‘Secret’ spending by health leaders in Milton Keynes slammed as ‘toxic’

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Labour council leaders have called for the city’s multi million pound NHS transformation project to be scrapped following claims that huge sums have been spent on “secretly” recruiting a consultancy firm from America.

Bosses of the Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) splashed £300,000 on US-based Optum to help analyse local data.

Labour’s Cabinet member for public health, Hannah O’Neill, fears the contract, which came to light in a Freedom of Information request, may be the tip of a “toxic” iceberg of spending.

“Our hospital is facing the worst winter crisis ever and now we find that money is being spent secretly on contracts with private American healthcare companies,” she said.

“I think this stinks and I think the local STP is a toxic waste of NHS cash and should be scrapped and replaced with local democratically accountable decision making.”

STP leaders, whose task is to look at integrating health services in Milton Keynes, Bedford and Luton, admit they recruited Optum – but strongly deny it was secretive.

They say the contract was openly tendered and full details were released “when requested” in the FOI release.

“The STP has been transparent throughout this process and is happy to share documents which detail the tender,” said a spokesman.

But Ms O’Neill is still far from happy about how the STP is spending its funding, which is estimated to be around £5m.

“It is simply wrong that millions is being wasted by a ‘Shadow STP board’ that meets in private, publishes no records and is accountable to nobody,” she said.

The £5m cost of the STP is an estimate. The true figures are “nearly impossible” to obtain as the whole process is so secretive, claims Ms O’Neill

BLMK Sustainability and Transformation Partnership has a leadership team made up of 16 partner organisations. All are accountable via their institutions as leaders of public bodies, said the spokesman.