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Editor’s blog Tuesday 7 September 2010: Consulting the wrong subject, sweet con-fection and dear, dear NHS IT

Sort of back to school now, so here are some thoughts about recent news bits.

Who spent what on management consultants – the gory detail
The Guardian’s Datablog carries this detailed breakdown of the Lansley-staggering £314 million NHS management consultancy spend in 2009-10 - and specifically of which NHS organisation spent what.

These data are useful and good to have, as far as they go.

Unfortunately, it isn’t far enough.

If Lansley The Liberator is serious about replacing process measures with outcomes (as he claims repeatedly to be), then this use of the process measure of total cost verges on the hypocritical. As I wrote previously, the key question is ‘where can the added value from management consultancy be proven?’

It can’t – for two reasons. The first is that much of this kind of spending (FT applications, World-Class Commissioning assurance et al) was actually mandated by the DH.

MARS – the pay-off you can eat between jobs without losing your appetite
I am slightly surprised to find myself the first to spot that the funky new DH wheeze to get NHS managers to accept a worse deal than their contractual entitlement for redundancy – the Mutually Agreed Redundancy Scheme – has an acronym to die for (good enough even to forgive its not being a TLA - three-letter acronym).

MARS – the pay-off you can eat between jobs without ruining your appetite.

A MARS a day helps you work, rest and play.

MARS – pleasure you can’t measure.

Bacon smells pork barrel: a small, £446 million bonus for BT Health?
The excellent E-Health Insider reports that Conservative MP Richard Bacon, who sits on the Commons Public Accounts Committee, has written to the National Audit Office comptroller general requesting a value-for-money investigation into the £546 million contract awarded to BT last year by the national IT programme.

Bacon suggests that the true value of the contract may be worth as little as £100 million, leaving £446 million inadequately accounted for, in his view.

Just think how staggered Andrew Lansley would be by that. He won’t walk straight for a week.

E-Health Insider also report that iSOFT’s CE Gary Cohen resigned as the company posted a statutory loss of £221 million for the financial year 2009-10. iSOFT’s pre-tax earnings fell 77% in the financial year, to £17 million, according the the report, which adds that 49% of iSoft’s revenue comes from Great Britain.

iSOFT’s history with money is not great: its directors, in the company’s former (pre-NED Sir Digby Jones-backed Torex takeover) incarnation as iSOFT Group PLC, are being charged with fraud by the Financial Services Authority.