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Management Consultants and the NHS

Are they part of the solution or part of the problem?

by Amy Ripley (Senior Communications Officer)

An expert panel gathered at Cass Business School on Wednesday 9th May to discuss if, and how, the NHS should continue to use management consultants.  The panel, which was chaired by Dr Amanda Goodall, Co-Director of the Executive Masters in Medical Leadership at Cass, featured a range of speakers representing different perspectives on management consulting in the NHS including from management consultancy, the media, academia and the NHS.

In the NHS today, external management consultants provide advice on strategy, organisation and financial planning and help implement various changes around IT infrastructure and systems.IT.  Annual spending on consultants reached £640 million in 2014 and, although it has subsequently fallen, it remains highly controversial.

Speaking at the event, Dr Goodall, whose research focuses on expert leadership, said the event came at a particularly pertinent time for both the NHS and the management consultancy industry.

“The industry and users claim to provide valuable expertise and efficiencies for an organisation in need of change, while critics accuse the government and NHS of waste – with money better spent on other sources of management expertise or directly on patient care,” she said.

“Recent academic research at the Universities of Bristol, Warwick and Seville has fuelled the debate, showing that the use of external management consultancy in the English NHS typically leads to inefficiency and calling for evidence-based solutions.  I hope our discussion tonight will be constructive and will continue the conversation about the value of management consultants and how they can best work with the NHS.”

The event was organised by Ruth Velenski, Head of Corporate Development at Cass in partnership with the Warwick Business School and the Bristol School of Economics, Finance and Management.  The panel members were:

  • Kate Abendstern, Managing Director, Hesperus Consulting
  • Tara Donnelly, CEO, Health Innovation Network
  • Dr Amanda Goodall, Co-Director Executive Masters in Medical Leadership, Cass Business School (Chair)
  • Lisa Goldstone, Senior Managing Director, FTi Consulting
  • Professor Ian Kirkpatrick, Warwick Business School
  • Alan Leaman, CEO,  Management Consultancies Association
  • Chris Smythe, Health Editor, The Times
  • Peter Spilsbury: Director, The Strategy Unit
  • Dr Chris Streather, CEO, Royal Free Hospital

You can find out more about Dr Amanda Goodall here.  Find out more about the Executive Masters in Medical Leadership at Cass Business School here.

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