Norfolk and Norwich hospital trust to spend nearly £4m on private accountants for help saving £60m over two years

I wonder how many people who are unhappy with N&N parking actually voted for the Tories. Picture: Ja

I wonder how many people who are unhappy with N&N parking actually voted for the Tories. Picture: James Bass. - Credit: Evening News � 2009

Campaigners today criticised the region's biggest hospital trust after it emerged private consultants costing millions of pounds have been hired to help find savings.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (NNUH) is paying accountants at PricewaterhouseCoopers nearly £4m as it seeks to make £60m savings in the current - and next - financial year.

The trust is in 'financial special measures' - meaning regulator NHS Improvement is also working with the trust on its finances.

The £3.85m figure is the highest amount spent on private consultants by the 20 worst financially-performing trusts across the NHS, according to figures obtained by the British Medical Association (BMA).

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Sue Vaughan, of Keep Our NHS Public's Norfolk branch, said she was 'appalled' by the amount spent on PwC.

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'The people who are really paying for this are the staff at the hospital who have had their wages freezed and are overworked,' she said.

'We have been calling for a change to the NHS' excessive reliance on these private companies. It is a big problem.'

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A spokesman for the NNUH said: 'In common with many hospital trusts across the country we need to make significant savings and efficiencies to achieve financial balance.

'Using external experts for specific projects has helped us to achieve the necessary changes and put us in a stronger position for the future.'

David Hill, financial improvement programme director at NHS Improvement, told the BMA: 'NHS Improvement is responsible for work on sustainability and transformation plans, the financial special measures regime, and ensuring the provider sector is on course to achieve financial and service performance targets.

'To exercise these functions, we have 179 staff members whose role relates to monitoring or improving financial performance of NHS providers.

'As part of its approval of the trusts' consultancy spend NHS Improvement considered the return on investment expected.'

The NNUH was put in financial special measures in July last year.

It put a halt to the expansion plans which NNUH chief executive Mark Davies labelled as 'crucial' to the trust's future.

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