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Minister calls for NHS trusts' transparency over management consultants

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NHS organisations will have to be more transparent about their use of management consultants in future, health minister Mike O’Brien has said.

Mr O’Brien was speaking ahead of the government’s official response to the Commons’ health committee’s inquiry on the use of management consultants in the NHS – due to be published tomorrow.

He told delegates at the NHS Alliance annual conference today that the NHS would face new rules on the use of management consultants as part of moves to ensure money was not being spent on unnecessary things.

He said: “I just want to be clear about this. Consultants do have a role. They can provide valuable skills and experience. But what I don’t to see is people employing consultants for the sake of employing consultants, to back cover for a difficult decision.

“People are paid to make difficult decisions and they should make them. And they should be sure that if they’re employing a consultant they haven’t got, somewhere in the NHS, the staff that are able to make that examination of that issue and provide recommendations themselves,” he said.

“We will be responding to the select committee tomorrow and we will be very clear that we need more openness and transparency about the way in which consultants are used in the NHS,” Mr O’Brien told delegates.

The health committee’s inquiry report, published in April, recommended that the government collect centrally lists of management consultants employed by the Department of Health, strategic health authorities, primary care trusts, acute and other trusts.

These lists should indicate the projects they are employed on, their duration, cost and purpose. Monitor should collect similar information for foundation trusts, the report said.

The health committee said it would then publish this information on an annual basis.

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