Suffolk: NHS Suffolk spent £1.6m on external advisors over three years
10:30 10 December 2012
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THE amount NHS Suffolk spends annually on external consultants and advisors has nearly doubled to more than £1.6million in the space of three years, new figures have revealed.
Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley discovered the figures in a House of Commons question to Dr Dan Poulter, junior health minister and also MP for North Ipswich and Central Suffolk.
NHS Suffolk spent £878,000 on consultants in 2009/10 but in 2011/12 that figure had increased to £1,665,000.
Mr Ruffley claims the figures were evidence that too much NHS money is going into bureaucracy and he said he is hopeful that the new health commissioning groups will cut back on consultancy fees.
He said: “I was quite surprised by the figures and it shows that the commissioning groups have got their work cut out. Every pound spent on a consultant is a pound not spent on frontline patient care and we should remember that.
“I don’t know what technical advice they needed, but if it’s general policy advice I would have thought that’s what PCT managers are there for.”
He said it was important to ensure that NHS spending on management does not “get out of whack” and ask tough questions.
A spokesman for NHS Suffolk said much of the spending had been on legal and professional fees related to major projects.
He said: “These figures include the amount NHS Suffolk has spent on legal and property advice, as well as the spend on management consultants. We spent less on management consultants in 2011/12 – a total of £117,000 – the remainder was legal and professional fees.
“We needed sound legal and professional advice to carry out major projects, such as planning for the new Sudbury health facility.
“It is important to note that NHS Suffolk has some of the lowest running costs of any primary care trust in the country and is recognised as having a prudent system of financial management.”