NHS boss defends £3m spent on outside advice

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health bosses who have spent almost £3m on management consultants, despite facing cuts of £50m and threatening more than 500 staff with redundancy, yesterday claimed they needed help from outside experts.

The Rotherham Hospital NHS Foundation Trust was forced to release figures showing that it splashed out on advice after a Freedom of Information request.

Rotherham MP and former shadow health secretary John Healey said the spending was “indefensible” at a time when staff faced losing their jobs and called on the trust to explain its actions and cut spending.

In a letter to the trust, Mr Healey said: “I believe this will be of concern to many in Rotherham, both those who work for the trust and those who are patients.

“I would be grateful to know how the trust justifies the high cost of consultants, especially this year and last.”

Yesterday’s figures show in 2009-2010 the trust spent £296,777 on the external positions.

In 2010-2011 that figure was £504,606 and rose to £1,249,669 in 2011-2012.

So far since April, the spending is £941,666.

Further concerns have been raised after it emerged that the trust had also engaged the services of consultant Tim Bolot, at a cost of £1,500 a day plus “reasonable expenses” to help with “forward planning”.

Mr Bolot’s appointments at other trusts have proved controversial with health organisations and unions criticising the fees paid at a time when frontline staff face pay cuts, freezes or redundancy.

Matthew Lowry, who is acting chief executive at the Rotherham trust said the fees were “commensurate”.

He added: “Employing external consultants can, on occasions, be necessary to enable the trust to buy in expertise or experience we simply don’t have.

“In this case, Mr Bolot has a wealth of experience in assisting large private sector and NHS organisations to overcome their financial challenges and will play an important role in the development of our plans.”