The Labour First Minister Mark Drakeford has said he “makes no apology” for his Labour Welsh Government paying private consultants £335,000 for a ‘few weeks’ to deal with the Welsh NHS’ winter pressures.
A Freedom of Information request by Plaid Cymru has revealed the Big Four consultancy PriceWaterhouseCooper were paid £335,000 by the Labour Welsh Government.
The FOI also revealed that in the last year alone, 37 have been employed at an average cost of £714 per day – more than the average weekly pay for nurses.
20 of the 37 were paid a total of £2,077,023.
During FMQs today, Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price challenged Labour First Minister Mark Drakeford on how much money his Labour government had given to private sector management consultants to “try and fix the Welsh NHS”.
Mr Price said that “creeping privatisation” was a threat to the NHS but that the imminent threat of privatisation was in fact coming from the Labour Welsh Government who were “funding a management consultancy gravy train at a time when front-line staff and services like A&E are stretched to breaking point”.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said he “made no apology” for paying the private consultants.
Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price said,
“We both agree that creeping privatisation is a threat to the NHS. The surprising thing perhaps is that threat comes from you. You’re funding a management consultancy gravy train at a time when front-line staff and services like A&E are stretched to breaking point.
“A&E waiting times the worst on record, but more money on private firms whose main medicine is more cuts for the frontline. Don’t you think that money would have been better spent on more doctors, nurses and social carers to manage the winter crisis, rather than pen-pushers with Powerpoint presentations?
“First Minister, your own Freedom of Information disclosure has revealed that in north Wales you were paying these consultants an average of £714 a day – that’s more than many nurses earn in a week.
“That same private firm PriceWaterhouseCooper are engaged to cut costs – or as it’s euphemistically known ‘find efficiency savings’. You have put them on a pay-as-you-cut contract that will see 11% of any so-called saving they find go straight into the pockets of private sector.
“First Minister, why are you paying the private sector to cut our NHS and giving them the chance to line their pockets as we do so. Don’t you agree with Unison, which said about the self-same approach in England, that “Instead of filling the pockets of management consultants, this money could have been better spent improving services for patients”?
“When are you going to stop doing in Wales where you are in Government what your party is promising to stop in this election in the country next door?