• NHS England spent £26.6m on consultancy services last year, an increase of almost 50 per cent
  • Consultancy spending across the health service has been dropping, following a clampdown on spending
  • Deloitte was the national body’s main supplier in 2017

NHS England reported a steep increase in management consultancy spending in 2017-18, despite a clampdown in the use of external support across the health service.

According to its annual report, NHS England spent £26.6m on consultancy services last year, which was an increase of almost 50 per cent on the previous 12 months.

Consultancy spending across the health service, the bulk of which is made by local clinical commissioning groups and NHS trusts, was £3.4bn last year, which was down from £3.7bn the previous year.

It follows a stricter approvals process for local consultancy spending being introduced in 2015.

NHS England’s increase last year also bucked its own trend, in which its spending had dropped from £56m in 2013-14; to £44m in 2014-15; to £25m in 2015-16; to £18.3m in 2016-17.

The national commissioning body did not respond when asked to explain what had driven the increase.

According to separate spending data, which is broken down per calendar year, NHS England’s main suppliers in 2017 were Deloitte (£4m); Benchmark Management Consulting (£2.2m); Moorhouse Consulting (£1.4m); Ernst & Young (£1m); and KPMG (£800k).

The largest spending departments of NHS England were the commissioning support units for north east London and the south, central and west region.

NHS Improvement’s spending on consultancy work also increased dramatically. The regulator spent £396,000 in 2017-18, compared to £6k the year before.

It said the bulk of this spending related to the first part of organisational development work being undertaken by McKinsey, which has previously been reported by HSJ.

Earlier this month, HSJ reported that consultancy spending by the Department of Health and Social Care had nearly tripled last year.