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Call for closer scrutiny of NHS management consultants


Government-commissioned reports from management consultants should be peer reviewed to ensure they deliver value for money, according to King’s Fund chief economist Professor John Appleby.

Professor Appleby was speaking during a panel discussion on whether “management consultants were worth it” during a Labour conference fringe event called A Vote for Health?

He said: “One of things I certainly would suggest we need to do more of is to peer review the work that management consultants do.

“If I do work for the Department of Health under a research contract, for example, my work is peer reviewed – not just internally within the King’s Fund but by independent academics as well. And I think that is when you get the balance of what are the costs versus the benefits,” he said.

However RCN chief executive Peter Carter said: “Over the last few years there has been an explosion in the use of management consultants and we do not believe that they demonstrate good value for money.” 

But he added: “We do think it’s sensible that when a healthcare organisation has a bespoke task that it might be appropriate to buy that in.”


Readers' comments (2)

  • Jon Harvey

    I speak as a organisation development consultant.

    In my view many public services have become increasingly dependent on services provided by the consultancies - both large and small. It is very easy to blame the consultants for their shoddy work and 'snake oil salespeople' powers for selling what is not required. However, I would also say this is a two way street. I think the wrong type of consultancy is often procured.

    Instead of paying consultants to find out about the organisation and the issues in question and then deliver some whizzy externally imposed solution - it is far better and cheaper to find the solutions internally from the existing system. The job of consultants should be to help the client find their own solutions not deliver 'fixes' to them. Our job is help create the right milieu - in which you can do this.

    Good consultants do the least for their clients - not the most. Our job is to do as little as possible to assist you ask and answer the right questions - not give you our answers...

    There is more on my blog post:

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  • some policies that come to the front line care services are clearly put together by someone alien to the work itself.
    let the staff that work it do the "peer review".

    even further out there... let the work force have part in the policy making.

    (mind you, they might ask for overtime pay)

    and think of all the money that can be saved if the front line nurses do not have to be fired during recession to have enough for the next generation of "management consultant consultants (dream up and insert own fancy new job title)"...

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