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Private firms handed millions from NHS budget as part of Government reorganisation plans

A new investigation¹ carried out by the BMA has discovered that private consultancy firms have been paid at least £26m by the NHS as part of plans to reorganise the health service. At the same time, more than 550 new non-clinical jobs have been created, across the country to drive through the reforms.

This is despite warnings from health leaders like the BMA who have been calling for greater investment to address the current medical workforce crisis² with not enough staff to deliver front-line care.

The report is based on a series of Freedom of Information (FOIs) requests sent to Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) and Integrated Care Systems (ICS). They have been created as a means of delivering more localised integrated care across the entire health system. The plans have already drawn criticism from leading healthcare bodies³ given their role in the reorganisation of the NHS.

Thirty of the 44 geographical areas covered by these bodies responded with new data, while information from a further nine was already available.

The FOIs requested information on the spending of STPs and ICS's on private consultancy firms and whether new jobs had been created as part of that.

Based on this information, the analysis discovered:

·         Overall £26m had been spent on consultancy firms and projects by the STPs and ICS's that responded.

·         11 of the 44 original STP areas admitted to spending more than £500,000 on private firms.

·         Some of the world’s biggest consultancy companies have been tasked with projects looking at ‘reviewing demand and capacity’ and ‘supporting sustainability’ – with several of their   bills running into seven figures.

·         More than 550 jobs have been created across the country, with either new staff brought in or existing non-clinical NHS employees seconded, with an annual salary bill of around £32m.

·         The figures reveal an expensive new cadre of senior staff being formed with 316 of the jobs attracting annual salaries of up to £142,500.

·         The true costs may be even bigger, owing to some STP or ICS footprints either failing to update previously supplied figures, or not providing any information at all.

The STP footprints spending some of the largest amounts include:

·         Kent and Medway spent almost £8.2m on consultancy costs and created 36 job roles at a cost of £2.4m.

·         South East London spent almost £4.2m on consultancy costs and created 26 job roles at a cost of almost £1.7m.

·         Greater Manchester – which is a unique devolved area - has 104 staff delivering transformation programmes at a cost of more than £6.4m of NHS funding.

·         South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw spent over £1.8m on consultancy costs and created 13 job roles at the cost of over £1.2m.

·         Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have created 32 job roles at a cost of over £1.8m


Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said:

“Given the perilous state of NHS finances and patients suffering delays for essential services it is utterly unacceptable to see so much money flowing away from patient care to private consultancy firms.

“For many frontline staff, so used to seeing a lack of investment in workforce, equipment and buildings in their workplaces, this level of spending on private consultancy firms will be extremely difficult to comprehend.”  

Dr Louise Irvine, a Lewisham GP, said:

“I’m shocked to hear they are spending so much money. Here in Lewisham, like many other parts of the country, we are seeing major cuts to mental health services, school nursing and district nursing.

“We’ve had public health cuts like weight management, breastfeeding support and smoking-cessation services totalling millions of pounds. This affects my daily work – we have no one to signpost people to any more.

“To hear this money is available to spend on this kind of thing and taken away from vital frontline care seems profoundly immoral.”


Notes to Editors

The BMA is a trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a ealthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.

The investigation has been conducted by The Doctor, the BMA’s award-winning magazine for members.

1.       Full investigation by The Doctor here.

2.       BMA briefing on state of medical recruitment can be found here.

3.       BMA analysis of STP delivery costs can be found here.

For further information please contact:

British Medical Association, BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JP
Telephone: 020 7383 6448 
Email: [email protected]
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