Trust pays £1.2m on ‘consultancy’ bill

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A COMPANY brought in to help cut costs at the cash-strapped trust which runs Pontefract Hospital was paid £1.2m in just four months.

The cash went to consultants firm Ernst and Young, which was brought in to help reorganise services and find savings at the debt-ridden Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust.

The trust – which is planning up to 180 job cuts to slash £24m from its budget this year – has spent a total of around £1.8m on private consultancy in the last year.

Mid Yorkshire defended the spending, saying expert help was needed to help boost efficiency.

Stephen Eames, the trust’s interim chief executive, said: “All large organisations use consultants. £1.2m represents about 0.4 per cent of the overall budget, which is a relatively small amount. Some trusts are spending five or six per cent on consultancy.”

But public sector union Unison said the cash spent on Ernst and Young could have saved 40 jobs.

Unison’s Adrian O’Malley said: “This is absolutely disgusting. Jobs will be lost at the trust and they can find money to give to this company to tell them how to do their own jobs.”

Mid Yorkshire has so far paid “external consultancy fees” of £1.19m to Ernst and Young since December, the trust’s financial records show.

Another consultancy company, Finnamore, was paid £495,000 between last March and November.

Last month, PricewaterhouseCoopers was paid £58,000 for consultancy work.

Jon Trickett, MP for Hemsworth, said: “This is absolutely astonishing. It’s a complete waste of money. Patient care is obviously suffering at the trust and they are getting rid of staff.

“How can it be right that they spend that much on consultants? I think the public will be as shocked as me when they hear about this.”