Sunday, September 17, 2006

Recent Bonfires- 32

Belts being tightened

In the cash-strapped NHS waste news this week:

NHS trusts blowing £172m pa on management consultants- "Spending is now almost twice the £93 million that hospitals and surgeries were paying out two years ago. Tens of millions of pounds are being handed over for advice on everything from corporate "branding" to how best to plan away-days. Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust in Kent, for example, is expected to spend about £3.5 million on external consultants this year — even though the trust has a £16 million deficit and has announced 300 job losses. Mansfield District Primary Care Trust spent £1,300 on the "design and facilitation of the prescribing team's away-day" and a total £175,612 on advisers. Ashfield PCT, which will spend about £150,000 this year, has paid for advice on "branding" as well as the "preparation and facilitation of governance time-out". Burton Hospitals NHS Trust said it had spent £58,000 for advice on "publicity". The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Trust in Shropshire paid £33,000 on public relations and a further £16,000 on board training." (Telegraph 12.9.06)

£20m for hospital art- "Nearly £20 million has been spent on art in hospitals over the last four years. At least £4.1 million was spent on hospital art last year, but the actual figure is likely to be higher as it only represents data supplied voluntarily by trusts. The statistics were revealed in response to Parliamentary Questions and come as the new NHS chief executive this week admitted in an interview that key hospital departments across England could be closed. Steve Webb MP said: "At a time when NHS budgets are stretched to breaking point, patients will find it hard to accept £20 million being spent on art projects. Whilst no-one objects to cheerful hospital environments, it is hard to believe that this is the top priority when doctors and nurses are losing their jobs. If millions are being spent unnecessarily on art projects, how many more millions are being wasted elsewhere in the NHS instead of being spent on frontline patient care?" (LibDem News 14.9.06: for full Written Answer see here)

Sham consultation exercise cost £1m- "A £1 million public consultation into the future of NHS services has been exposed as a "sham" by an official Government evaluation. A large proportion of the people who took part in Your Health, Your Care, Your Say, the consultation vaunted by ministers for allowing people to influence a White Paper on health published this year, felt they had little or no impact on the final policies. Participants were paid to take part in the form of "expenses", costing a total of £151,300. Travel and hotel accommodation for the consultation's "summit" in Birmingham were also paid by the taxpayer... Some of those who took part have admitted that they were "only there for the money". The evaluation report said there were concerns about "restricted polling questions" that were "slightly leading and framed to get specific answers". Almost half of those questioned felt that issues raised in discussion groups were not considered in the questions they were then asked to vote on during the consultation. One participant said: "We ended up voting for what they wanted us to vote for. Some things should not have been there on the list." (Sunday Telegraph 17.9.06)

£1.2m plus on toothbrush advice- "Ministers have announced the Government's latest attempt to interfere in family life, telling parents how to brush their children's teeth. A multi-million pound campaign will give advice such as "hold the brush at a 45 degree angle against the gumline" and "eating cheese after a meal can help reduce the risk of tooth decay". The Brushing for Life campaign was greeted with ridicule. A £1.2m trial scheme has already seen extra staff hired to give away toothpaste... Tory MP Sir Paul Beresford - who is also a dentist - said: "It is incredibly rich for this Government to be offering children advice when they won't give them dentists." (Daily Mail 14.9.06)

Total for week: £194,200,000

1 comment:

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