A recent report in the HSJ on the move by Hamza Yusuf, a senior civil servant who oversaw the £37bn Test and Trace budget, to the consultancy firm Deloitte, has highlighted once again the involvement of such firms in the NHS.
As a finance director at the Department of Health and Social Care from November 2020 to October 2021, Mr Yusuf had overall responsibility for the £37bn Test & Trace programme budget. More recently he was a strategic finance director at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), which has taken over the test and trace programme.
Mr Yusuf’s new employer, Deloitte, has been a major recipient of contracts within the test and trace system. At one point Sky News reported that more than 1,000 consultants from the company were being employed, which in pure headcount terms, was “about the size of a small UK government department.”
In May 2021, the FT reported that Deloitte had been awarded 26 contracts as part of the pandemic response worth up to £278.7m, most of which were to support the rollout of the UK’s test-and-trace programme.
Despite a damning Public Accounts Committee report in October 2021, which noted that despite having a budget of £37 bn over two years, and a huge spend on management consultants, the test and trace system had failed to achieve its main objective of reducing transmission and aiding a return to normal life, the employment of management consultants continues.
In December 2021, the FT reported that the UKHSA had signed at least four contracts with consultancies Deloitte and Accenture relating to the delivery of the programme, with the potential to extend until April 2025. Deloitte was awarded a contract worth £900,000 that included the preparation of “evidence” for the Covid public inquiry.
At the time Labour protested that it is “completely wrong for the company to be awarded a contract to mark their own homework.”
By June 2022 according to a letter sent to the PAC, by Dame Jenny Harries, head of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), NHS England’s Test and Trace system had reduced management consultant numbers, but it was still continuing to employ hundreds.
The UKHSA may be reducing its management consultant headcount, but elsewhere in the NHS and related government departments there are still contracts for them. According to ContractFinder, the government’s database of public contract activity, Deloitte was awarded 31 contracts from 1 January 2022 to 1 October 2022 within the area of the NHS or UKHSA.
In February 2022, The Lowdown reported that seven companies – Bramble Hub, Deloitte, EY, KPMG, McKinsey & Co, Newton Europe and PwC – are being paid up to £42m for an initial two-month data contract.
The contracts form part of the then health secretary Sajid Javid’s ‘delivery plan’ to clear the surgery waiting list backlog. The contract is designed to provide “system planning” to support the elective recovery programme.
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