Hertfordshire NHS chiefs spend �42,000 on consultancy fees

TENS of thousands of pounds were paid to consultants by NHS chiefs in a bid to shore up their case to become a foundation trust, the Welwyn Hatfield Times can reveal.

The latest figures, released on the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust’s website, revealed �42,010 was paid to PricewaterHouseCoopers for undefined “professional fees”.

And the trust has come under fire for the limited details listed in the December 2010 report of transactions over �25,000.

After being challenged on the expense listing, the trust’s chief executive, Nick Carver, said the cash was handed over for advice on ensuring “a positive outcome” to its application to become a NHS foundation trust.

He said: “Part of the application process is a very rigorous assessment made by the national regulator monitor.

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“Only those NHS trusts which have been well prepared will get approved and as part of our own preparations we have sought external scrutiny and review of our clinical and non-clinical governance arrangements.”

He added: “While most of this work can be carried out internally, some aspects are outside of the trust’s immediate expertise.

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“It is for occasions such as this we have sought the input of specialist teams from PricewaterhouseCoopers, to which this invoice relates.

“The cost of this one-off piece of work was budgeted for 2010/11 and did not come from funds intended for patient care.”

He added if the trust had been currently a foundation trust its projected �3.3m surplus “would be retained locally”.

But a spokeswoman for The TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “The NHS must be open with taxpayers about how their money is being spent.

“Patients and locals will rightly be concerned to see such large sums being paid to consultants with little explanation of what this money was used for.”

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