A cash-strapped hospital trust spent over £2m on consultancy firms to help it cut its debts, the Examiner can reveal.

Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation Trust paid £2,246,366 to consultancy firms in 2015, some of whom advised the trust on how to slash its debts.

The trust, which runs Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, is expected to end the financial year £25m in the red.

But according to the trust’s own figures, it spent the £2.2m on consultancy firms including City accountants KPMG and Price Waterhouse Coopers.

The amount Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation Trust (CHFT) spent has drawn criticism from local NHS campaign groups.

Terry Hallworth, of It’s Our NHS, said the trust should ‘stop throwing good money after bad’.

Terry Hallworth
Terry Hallworth

Mr Hallworth added: “Monitor are already at the trust trying to sort out the finances.

“Consultancy firms have no idea about clinical needs and are only interested in cutting costs.

“The question is why can’t the trust’s own accountants and management sort it – or do they think it is more convenient for somebody else to deliver the bad news?”

Paul Cooney, of Huddersfield Keep Our NHS Public, added: “Any expenditure on private management consultancies and which does not directly contribute to the delivery of such care is a waste of its resources.

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“The trust board of directors should already be able to efficiently manage the trust by the use of their own professional skills and if they are not able to do so, then perhaps they should explain why they cannot.”

CHFT said consultancy firms had helped the trust save cash and invest more money in patient services.

Director of Nursing, Julie Dawes, said: “Like the majority of NHS Trusts across the country we have faced significant challenges this year and we have been looking at every way we can to eliminate the overspend while at the same time continue to provide our patients with safe, quality, compassionate care. External consultants support us to do this and we make every effort to make sure we provide best value for money.

Julie Dawes, Director of Nursing at Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation Trust
Julie Dawes, Director of Nursing at Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation Trust

“As a direct result of this work we have been able to invest in frontline nursing and additional beds.”

Neighbouring Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust (MYHT) is believed to have forked out £15m in the last four years on money-saving advice from fellow City company Ernst and Young.

But MYHT, which runs Dewsbury District Hospital, was rated ‘requires improvement’ overall by government watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in its latest report, published in December.

It was also rated ‘inadequate’ – the lowest rating – for its safety.