Monday, November 13, 2006

Debt hit-squads in 25% of trusts
By Nick Triggle
Health reporter, BBC News

Campaigners have accused the government of wasting money after it
emerged one in four NHS trusts has had financial hit-squads sent in to
rectify debts.

Ministers first announced consultants would be going into 18 of the worst-hit NHS trusts in

England in January.

But that figure has risen to 143 as the NHS struggles with deficits - trusts predict debts of o

ver £1bn this year.

The government said the "turnaround" teams were offering varying levels of support and

oing an important job.

External consultants

It is not known how much the teams are costing, because most of the funding is

coming from individual trusts or strategic health authorities - regional bodies

which oversee NHS trusts.

However, the NHS in England is set to spend £172m this year on external management

consultants - a rise of 83% in two years, according to figures obtained by the


Not all the teams involve external consultants as some trusts are using in-house NHS teams

and the help on offer varies from consultants having positions on the board to financial

experts acting in an advisory role.

Shadow health minister Stephen O'Brien said: "The impact of Labour's financial mismanagement

of our NHS is exposed through the vast increase in the number of turnaround teams.

"As they are Labour's solution to Labour's problem it is no surprise that the

cost they incur is vast.

"Labour can no longer be trusted to run our NHS. By sending in these hit-squads

it is clear that they no longer even trust themselves."