NHS trust paid £75,000 fee to 'phantom' firm - Health News - Health & Families - The Independent

NHS trust paid £75,000 fee to 'phantom' firm

Consultancy company mysteriously disappears after inquiry is launched

In the annals of the NHS and its growing privatisation, the strange tale of the NHS trust and the phantom managment consultancy may rank among the oddest.

NHS Lothian in the Scottish Borders paid £75,000 to a consultancy firm for it to find private hospitals that would help cut the trust's long NHS waiting lists.

But, after the Scottish Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon ordered an inquiry following allegations that the contract had been awarded improperly, the consultancy firm, HD Partners, apparently disappeared.

On its website, HD Partners lists offices in London, Frankfurt, Madrid and other European cities.

But when The Independent called the telephone numbers given it got a BT recorded message at the London headquarters saying that there was no subscriber.

In Frankfurt, the number given was a translation company and in Madrid an IT company. Neither had heard of HD Partners.

The firm was awarded the contract last October following the discovery that the NHS Lothian trust had been massaging its waiting lists to make them look better than they were.

An independent report in February found that patients were being referred for treatment in England but given unrealistic appointments that they could not keep.

When they declined, they were wiped from the waiting list so the trust did not breach its 18-week target. Two members of staff were suspended.

In March, Professor James Barbour, the chief executive of NHS Lothian, retired after a decade in the job. The trust had been criticised by the Health Secretary over the waiting-list debacle.

Ms Sturgeon has since demanded that the trust explain how the contract came to be awarded to HD Partners and is seeking assurances it was placed in an "open and transparent" manner.

Last week Professor Barbour denied claims that the deal with HD Partners had wasted money when the job of negotiating with private hospitals to take NHS patients could have been done by the trust itself.

He has told a Scottish newspaper that the deal saved the trust £500,000 because the firm had been able to negotiate better deals than would have been available to the trust directly.

"I understand the work they did saved half a million pounds," he said.

And he denied reports that he had gone to work for HD Partners.

"I have no contractual arrangement with HD Partners; I do not work for them and have received no payment from them," he said.

A spokesperson for NHS Lothian said: "NHS Lothian employed HD Partners for two pieces of work related to waiting-times management. This amounted to around £75,000. NHS Lothian has no further contracts with HD Partners."

"Details regarding the company concerned are subject to the review requested by the Cabinet Secretary and it is not appropriate for us to speculate until this has been carried out."

Following The Independent's inquiries, the company has updated its website to remove the contact numbers for its London and European offices and replace them with an email address.

Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
Life and Style
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
tech(but you can't escape: Bono is always on your iPhone)
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Programme Test Manager

    £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently seekin...

    IT Network Manager - Shepherd's Bush, London

    £28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Network Manager - Shepherd's Bush...

    Secondary supply teachers needed in Peterborough

    £21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Secondary supply teac...

    Modern Foreign Languages Teacher

    £100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Full time German Supply Teacher...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week