The NHS could make huge savings on doctors and midwives wages’ by enlisting patients to input their own health records and conduct their own antenatal care, a McKinsey partner suggested last week.

The influential consultancy firm has kept a low public profile for much of this year, following Mail on Sunday in report February linking it to the government’s NHS reforms.

But speaking at a conference organised by think tank Reform last Wednesday, McKinsey partner Penny Dash called for the health service to “loosen the stranglehold of some of the professional bodies on the way we deliver care”.

People, she said, had begun to look at examples overseas that were “really challenging the notion” that “we need a nurse who’s been trained for three years to do tasks which require training of two weeks”.

“The most visible example of that is that you need to have one midwife for 28 births,” she added. “Why? There is no data whatsoever to substantiate that other than current working practice.”

In New Zealand, Dr Dash said, midwives delivered “more like 60 babies a year”.

The majority of antenatal care, she added, could be delivered by women themselves. “Most women are perfectly capable of measuring their own blood pressure and dipsticking their own urine,” she said. “If we can [introduce] this for a chunk of people then that frees up significant amounts of time, which essentially means less staff, which essentially means less money.”

She also pointed to a Cardiff project which allows patients to input their own health details into an electronic record before visiting their doctor. “At least 50 per cent of every doctor’s time, not to mention every nurse’s time… is spent collecting [their] patients’ medical history, that the patient could have put themselves into their own health record”.

She added that the NHS needed to introduce large-scale “efficient delivery models” in community as well as hospital care. “You can’t just set up an urgent care centre and say, ‘tick, we’ve done it’. They’ve got to be done in a way which ensures high volumes of patients so you utilise your staff and your assets efficiently, and that does mean taking out capacity of both staff and of buildings.”