Herald Opinion: £4m advice bill... what would Bevan have said?

WHAT would you do with £4 million?

We all have our pipe dreams about how our lives would be changed with the onset of unimaginable riches, and a fair percentage of those would involve a place in the sun and saying goodbye to a life of 9-5 drudgery.

In relation to the monstrous sums needed to maintain two hospitals in 2012, these numbers aren’t quite as life-changing but would buy some new equipment and help to pay the salaries of the staff.

This week we were shocked to learn East Sussex Healtcare NHS Trust, which runs both the DGH and the Conquest, has shelled out more than £4.1 million to financial consultants in the past year.

The money has been paid to advisors from Ernst and Young, a top international firm and one of the Big Four auditors .

These experts don’t come cheap - a staggering £2,000 a day.

The Trust has argued that despite the huge bill the consultants are cost-effective and have led to six million pound “savings” in the past six months.

It is indisputable the DGH and the NHS as a whole is in dire financial straits and hospital managers are faced with dwindling resources and spiralling debts.

But it’s fair to assume nearly all of the so-called savings identified by Ernst and Young will result in a reduction in the services provided by the two hospitals.

Does the Trust, and ultimately the tax-payer, really need to spend quite such astronomical amounts for the privilege of being told how to best cut the care offered by our hospitals?

One thing is for sure, when Aneurin Bevan created system of univeral free health care, he wouldn’t have done so in the hope it would one day help to swell the coffers of a blue-chip financial company with revenues of nearly than $23 billion.

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ONCE again the prize for hardiest holiday souls goes to the slightly bonkers people who took part in fundraising festive dips (page 9).

Three separate events took place on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, generating much-needed funds for local good causes.

At the Herald we’ve been reliably informed the shock of the ferociously ice-cold waters recedes slightly after a few seconds.

The mind boggles.

The closest most of us come to ice-cold water over Christmas are the cubes in our medicinal drinks!

Plaudits should also go to the Rotarians and volunteers who worked to produce a smashing Christmas lunch for those people who would otherwise have been on their own on Christmas Day.