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MILLIONS of pounds of NHS cash is being poured into the pockets of a small private consultancy firm hired to find savings through cuts in Kent — and the practice could be widespread, campaigners warned today.
Investigations by health service activists Diane Langford and Julie Wassmer suggest that more than £6 million was handed by Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS (MTW) to private consultancy firm Carnall Farrar to find “efficiency savings.”
They also point out that the “independent” chair of the Kent NHS body set up by the government to impose the cuts, Dame Ruth Carnell, is also a partner in Carnell Farrer.
The campaigners said they had become concerned when they saw the appointment of Ms Carnall to chair the local sustainability and transformation programme (STP) board, one of 44 set up by the government to find more “efficiency savings” in local NHS services.
The campaigners said they had faced 12 months of “obfuscation” during their investigations in Kent, despite requests made under freedom of information legislation.
Eventually, the campaigners found that £6,051,199 had been paid to Carnall Farrar by Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust up to September last year.
Author Ms Wassmer said: “This is public money — NHS funds being diverted away from services and into the pockets of private consultancies. We know that over £6 million, and possibly more, has been paid from the local NHS budget to this one consultancy for barely 18 months’ work on the local STP.”
She said there were implications for all 44 of the STPs set up by the government to find more “efficiency savings.”
“How much more is going to management consultants across the whole of the UK?” she asked.
“Paying millions to private companies like Carnall Farrar to find damaging cuts within an underfunded service is not only senseless, it’s immoral.”
Glenn Douglas, chief executive and chair of the Kent and Medway STP, said: “All spend has been declared on the MTW website, but it should be noted that Carnall Farrar were a subcontractor of another company initially, so not all spend was directly received by or attributed to them.
“This was explained to Julie and Diane following the meeting with them. In the interests of transparency, all spend with Carnall Farrar has now been clearly published.”
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