A management consultant has been drafted in by East London’s NHS to cut back a multi-million-pound budget “overspend”.
NHS North East London is a health body, known as an integrated care board (ICB) that serves more than two million East Londoners. It was formed in July last year to oversee spending on hospitals, GP services and mental health trusts.
When setting its budget to spend £4.2 billion in government funding earlier this year, NHS North East London warned that it was likely to need more than £200 million more due to an “unprecedented level of financial risk”.
Inflation, staff costs, industrial action and a failure to cut costs through “efficiency schemes” mean that risk has become a reality and the health body is now forecasting a £74million budget “overspend”.
In a bid to cut spending, the health body brought in management consultant Phil Orwin earlier this year, although it is unclear what measures he has put in place.
Oxford-educated Orwin, who reportedly charges at least £1,920 per day for his health consultancy service, has been described as a “system financial improvement director” and “turnaround specialist” who has reportedly worked at a number of NHS bodies.
Other measures NHS North East London has brought in to control spending include “double lock” controls over spending of £50,000 or more and “enhanced governance reporting”.
Many of England’s 42 ICBs, overseeing health spending in every part of the country, are reportedly in similar “deficit” positions after failing to meet budget targets imposed by the government earlier this year.
NHS England has also ordered every ICB to cut spending on staff by 30% over the next two years.
Difficulties agreeing a budget with the government appear to be why NHS North East London’s budget was not approved until May this year, two months after the financial year started.
Despite its huge £4.2bn budget, NHS North East London has repeatedly refused to show the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) details of the spending or cost-cutting “efficiency schemes”.
Its original budget included £277m in “efficiencies” to hospital and GP services in East London, but was only published in bullet-point summary.
The included cuts summarised with one word or an acronym, such as £15m cuts to NHS-funded social care, £17m cuts to “prescribing” and £27m to “non-recurrent programmes”.
In response to a freedom of information request for details of the budget and cuts, submitted by the LDRS, NHS North East London instead provided another summary in a Powerpoint presentation.
When approached for comment about its repeated refusal to share further details of its spending plans, a spokesperson said that it provides “regular updates” at its public board meetings.
NHS North East London serves seven East London boroughs: Barking and Dagenham, Hackney, Havering, Newham, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest.
It is governed by a board, chaired by Marie Gabriel and chief executive officer Zina Etheridge.
Unlike most NHS bodies, its board also includes local politicians such as Barking and Dagenham councillor Maureen Worby, and former Hackney Mayor Phillip Glanville, who resigned in September.
NHS North East London’s next public board meeting will be at Tower Hamlets town hall on 27 November, to attend or watch online, visit this link: https://northeastlondon.icb.nhs.uk/events/board-meetings-and-papers-5/