Nov 5 2012 by Hannah Bewley, Harrow Observer
TAXPAYERS in north-west London footed the bill for a £7million consultation into cost-cutting hospital closures.
There has been widespread opposition to the proposals to merge some hospital services and close the A&E department at Central Middlesex Hospital in Park Royal, which would force some people in Brent to travel further and campaigners claim would put extra pressure on Northwick Park Hospital.
NHS North West London was forced to reveal the cost of the Shaping a Healthier Future consultation, which has been called a ‘complete waste’ by campaigners, after receiving a request under the Freedom of Information Act.
The money included nearly £4m in fees to consultancy firm McKinsey and a communications and engagement budget of £1.3m.
In total, the expenditure for the consultation for the last financial year (2011/12) was just over £4 m and so far this year, from April to September, more than £3m has been spent.
Sarah Cox, campaigner for Brent Fightback, said: “It is absolutely mind boggling. Given how bad the consultation was it seems it was a complete waste of money. It was very expensive and very flawed.”
She added that roughly £250 had been spent in total organising their campaign and collecting thousands of signatures.
The organisation received 16,000 responses to the consultation, which works out at £437.50 per response.
A spokesperson for NHS North West London said: “The £7m total cost of this programme works out at less than £4 per person for the population of north-west London and represents just 0.2 per cent of the total £3.4billion spent on healthcare there every year.
“This programme will save hundreds of lives and the value of that is incalculable. We strongly defend this expenditure.”
In Brent, 2,000 signatures were collected against the closure and a petition with 60,000 signatures from other affected boroughs, including neighbouring Ealing, was handed in to the NHS.