McKinsey foots the Bill

McKinsey and Company help write DoH Bill that could earn them millions of pounds

The prognosis of NHS reforms took a turn for the worse over the weekend when a Mail on Sunday report revealed an extensive involvement of management consultants McKinsey in Andrew Lansley’s NHS reforms.

Documents obtained by the newspaper chart the relationship between McKinsey and the Department of Health and show just how intertwined the consultancy company is in government policy. Indeed the evidence suggests that many of the proposals included Lansley’s controversial Health and Social Care Bill were drawn up by McKinsey.

These claims become all the more serious when one considers that McKinsey’s clients include some of the world’s biggest private hospital firms who may directly benefit from changes proposed to the NHS.

One document seen by the MoS suggested that the consultancy group  had used its privileged access to ‘share information’ with its corporate clients.

According to the Mail on Sunday, McKinsey has already earned at least £13.8m from Government health policy since the Coalition took office.

McKinsey has certainly been generous to those in power. Last year the company paid for a lavish trip to New York for civil servant David Bennett. The business class flights, five star hotel and sumptuous meals might all have been above board, but the Mail on Sunday questions the judgement displayed by Bennett in accepting this hospitality. Bennett works for NHS regulator Monitor, and as such will be in a position to regulate contracts potentially worth billions to McKinsey’s clients.

The newspaper lists other government officials who have been wined and dined by the management consultants, as well as noting the many former McKinsey clients now employed in government.

This thorough investigation is packed with examples of potential conflicts of interest, clearly illustrating the endemic nature of the problem.

The extent of the consultancy’s influence on the DoH only came to light after a series of Freedom of Information requests, submitted by Spinwatch’s Tamsin Cave, a fact only mentioned by the MoS halfway through the article.

One must appreciate the extent of the work done by Cave in obtaining the documents that revealed this story. The Bureau’s own work looking at government contracts has often run up against brick walls, showing just how hard it can be to obtain simple information through Freedom of Information requests, with government departments using client confidentiality as a means to with-hold information.

The work from Spinwatch and the Mail on Sunday shows just how important this kind of information can be in monitoring the many conflicts of interest in the formulation of government policy.

UPDATE: It appears the MoS’s story is causing uproar in parliament. Baroness Royall has set down an urgent question for the House of Lords asking, ‘what the role of management consultants is in developing health reforms, including the Health and Social Care Bill, and whether their involvement in the design and implementation of reforms raises any conflicts of interest.’

Read the Mail on Sunday’s article here.