Credit: Evan-Amos / CC BY-SA 3.0
More than one in eight people working for the UK Health Agency are management consultants, and some are earning more than £ 3,000 a day, its executive director has revealed.
UKHSA and one of the predecessor organizations of NHS Test and Trace have previously been criticized for their reliance on consulting firms and external contractors. Former head of contact tracking program Dida Harding told the Parliamentary Committee on Public Accounts in July that a lack of digital and data skills in the civil service is a major reason the scheme depends on contractors.
In October, Test and Trace – along with the Public Health of England and the Joint Center for Biosafety – was replaced and subordinated to the UKHSA.
As of Jan. 31, management consultants accounted for 13% of the new health agency’s workforce, Dam CEO Jenny Harris said in a written update to MPs. Slightly more than half of the workforce – 58% – were civil servants, and the remaining 29% were full-time.
The contingent work segment includes health consultants, whom Harris called “a major part of the UKHSA workforce”. Her letter highlighted the distinction between management consultants who provide counseling services and professionals “with clinical or interdisciplinary experience in health care”.
UKHSA pays management consultants between £ 706 and £ 3,100 a day – excluding VAT, Harris said. As of November – when the last analysis was conducted – the average daily rate was £ 1,244 excluding VAT.
“This reflects an approach focused on minimizing the cost of management consultants for those deemed necessary for prompt delivery,” Harris said.
In January, it was found that 27% of the Test and Trace workforce were management consultants, almost a year after a plan to reduce their participation in the program. By that time, just over half had left as part of a “consultation reduction program” that began in February 2020.
Harris and Permanent Secretary of the Department of Health and Welfare Sir Chris Warmold told the PAC at the time that UKHSA – which took over responsibility for the NHS Test and Trace in the spring of 2021 – was trying to recruit officials to replace the remaining management consultants “as far as possible” .
But they said the nature of the vacancies offered is holding back applications, explaining: “Covid-19 response roles are usually offered on the basis of short-term loans, secondments and urgent meetings to avoid a constant increase in the size of the organization; however, they are often less attractive, which reduces the supply of candidates. “
Harris added that UKHSA is conducting a “quick review of the functions and forms of organization needed to perform [its] future role, ”following the government’s announcement in February of the“ Live with Covid ”plan and its settlement of the cost revision.
Since then, it has been reported that the health agency plans to cut 40% of its jobs – about 800 full-time equivalent jobs – in a move that health experts have called “irresponsible”. UKHSA has not confirmed these plans.
“This review will determine the appropriate composition of the workforce for the future and is likely to see a further significant reduction in the number of management consultants working at UKHSA. A revised mechanism is in place to track and report on these reductions, ”Harris said.