Hospital trust spent £1.2m on consultants

MP Mike Wood next to his plaque outside his office on Cross Crown Street, Cleckheaton. (d15091101)
MP Mike Wood next to his plaque outside his office on Cross Crown Street, Cleckheaton. (d15091101)

A COMPANY brought in to help cut costs at the cash-strapped trust which runs Dewsbury and District Hospital was paid £1.2m in just four months.

The money went to Ernst and Young, a consultancy firm engaged to help reorganise services and find savings at the debt-ridden Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust.

The trust, which is planning job cuts to slash £24m from its 2012/13 budget, spent around £1.8m on private consultancy in the last financial year.

Public sector union Unison said the cash spent on Ernst and Young could have saved 40 jobs.

But the trust has defended its spending, saying expert help was needed to help boost efficiency.

Unison’s Adrian O’Malley said: “This is absolutely disgusting. Jobs will be lost at the trust and they can find money to give to this company to tell them how to do their own jobs.”

Trust interim chief executive Stephen Eames, who started in March, said: “All large organisations use consultants. £1.2m represents about 0.4 per cent of the overall budget, which is a relatively small amount. Some trusts are spending five or six per cent on consultancy.”

This month, it emerged that the trust plans to axe up to 180 positions.

In two departments – estates and facilities and administration and clerical – between £1m and £2m could be cut from the budget, leading to between 40 and 80 job losses. Mr O’Malley added: “The money spent on [Ernst and Young] is another 40 jobs.”

The trust has paid ‘external consultancy fees’ of £1.19m to Ernst and Young since December for advice on reorganising services, potential cost savings and financial management.

Financial records show another consultancy company, Finnamore, was paid £495,000 between March and November 2011.

Last month, PricewaterhouseCoopers was paid £58,000 for consultancy work.

Batley and Spen MP Mike Wood (Lab) said: “This is a scandalous amount of money to pay to outside consultants and it is exactly the kind of expenditure the new chief executive is committed to ending. Not before time!

“Obviously in these cash strapped times sums of money such as this in the NHS need to be spent on patients and frontline staffing and not on fat cat outside consultants.”

Dewsbury and Mirfield MP Simon Reevell (Con) said looking at how to run an organisation could be a wise investment in the long-term, but agreed the use of expensive consultants had to end.

He said: “Some management teams, rather than make decisions, paid consultants to tell them things. It’s a very expensive way to avoid responsibility.”

He said he understood concerns about the money spent, but most of it was under the trust’s old management.