North Essex: Anger at health spending

A UNION chief has hit out at an Essex health trust after an East Anglian Daily Times investigation found it has spent �861,000 on consultants in five years.

North East Essex PCT spent �131,000 on external help in the 2011/12 financial year, despite having two dozen employees earning �50,000 or more.

Johanna Weiss, regional officer for Unison, criticised the expenditure – claiming consultants were telling the trust “what it already knows”.

But the trust defended its record, saying the �131,000 spent last year was a “very small amount” in the context of its �530million annual budget. Ms Weiss said: “I think it’s absolutely disgusting. I’m actually quite flabbergasted.

“In my view it’s disgusting and an unnecessary amount of money to spend on consultants when there is highly-skilled and highly-paid staff there already. I’ve had enquiries where members have said ‘they’re checking the boot of my car to make sure I’m not taking out too many supplies to my patients’ then on the flip side you have got these consultants coming in to tell the organisation what they already know.”

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The spending on consultants, uncovered by a Freedom of Information request by the EADT, peaked in 2008/09 with an outlay of �434,000.

A spokesperson for NHS North Essex said: “We employ management consultants only when we require a service which cannot be supplied in-house, normally legal or specialist estates issues.

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“In line with Department of Health guidance, we are limiting our spend on management consultancy to the absolute minimum and this past year have spent just �131,000 in north-east Essex, a very small amount in the context of its annual �530m budget.

“We have a very experienced and talented management team in place for handling the day-to-day management of the organisation but it would not make financial sense to employ somebody with highly-priced specialist skills which might only be needed on a couple of occasions a year. That is when we turn to management consultants who possess those specialist skills.”

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