MENTAL health chiefs have spent nearly £1.5 million on external consultants after concerns over the monitoring of services, despite already employing an ‘in-house’ team.

Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust confirmed it has paid £1.46 million to Ernst and Young (EY) for the extra work since October, which has contributed to a forecast deficit of £1.3 million for 2014/15.


It already spends £1.3 million per year on its internal performance management and information team, but said this has provided a ‘poor return on investment’, in part due to sickness issues and high-cost interim staff.

Bosses said accurate and timely performance management was critical, as it enables bosses to monitor indicators of patient safety, such as numbers of patients who received a quick follow-up after being deemed at risk of self-harm.

A report to board members said there have been attempts to address the issue for years, including investments of about £500,000, but this led to ‘false assurances’.

The report added: “It is essential that as we move towards the implementation of a new clinical system, we have a clear information strategy as well as a clear strategy for information technology. We currently have a plethora of fragmented and stand alone data management systems which are disjointed, fragile and unreliable.”

Sue Moore, chief operating officer, said: “This has been a really important piece of work improving the accuracy of data and streamlining reporting processes as much as possible, to enable clinical staff to dedicate their time to patient care.

“Ernst and Young have worked alongside substantive trust employees as part of a blended team to support and develop existing staff members. The investment to date will realise efficiencies in the long term with the move to more automated systems and will also ensure the trust’s board can be more assured about the quality of performance data.”

Lancashire Care’s total ‘consultancy’ bill for 2013/14 was £2.6 million.