The government has denied that there is a conflict of interest between its health reforms and a management consultant advising on them.
Following weekend press reports about McKinsey & Company’s role in the Health and Social Care Bill, Labour’s leader of the Opposition in the Lords Baroness Royall raised questions about the firm ahead of debates on the reforms.
But health minister Lord Howe told peers procedures put in place to ensure transparency between civil servants, NHS regulator Monitor and private companies had been followed “to the letter”. Lord Howe also said the Department of Health’s spending on consultants had been slashed since the coalition came to office.
The exchanges came ahead of a day of debate in the Lords on further proposed amendments to the government’s controversial Health and Social Care Bill. Peers are expected to vote on several amendments later in the day.
Asking a private notice question, Baroness Royall said: “What is the role of management consultants in developing health reforms, including the Health and Social Care Bill, and does their involvement in the design and implementation of reforms raise any conflicts of interest?”
Lord Howe replied: “The Health and Social Care Bill, and all related programmes, require input from a wide range of civil servants, managers and experts.
“Management consultants have been assisting Monitor, the developing commissioning board and others on specific issues.
“Consultancy spend has reduced very substantially since before the election. We have been transparent around spends over £25,000 and on hospitality received by ministers and civil servants.
“We have also answered all Parliamentary Questions and FOI requests on these issues, showing our commitment to openness.