Publication - FOI/EIR release

Scottish Government and NHS Boards - external consultancy support: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Published:
20 Dec 2019
Scottish Government and NHS Boards - external consultancy support: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/201900007376
Date received: 21 Nov 2019
Date responded: 19 Dec 2019
Information requested

You asked for the following information:

1. Which NHS territorial and special boards that the Scottish Government is aware of have accessed support from external consultants?

2. In regard to 1), please could you let me know the value, date and length of these contracts and the name of the company contracted to provide advice.

3. Which of these boards were supported to access external consultancy by the Scottish Government?

To clarify I am referring to consultancy or advice relating to boards’ finances or operations contracted from private companies. Examples would include NHS Highland’s use of PWC to find savings.

Response

The Scottish Government and NHS Boards make arrangements for external consultancy support where this provides value for money and where there is a requirement for specific skills or services that cannot be delivered within existing capacity. NHS Boards that have recently received expert external support include NHS Ayrshire and Arran, NHS Borders, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, and NHS Highland. All of these arrangements are supported by funding that the Scottish Government makes available to NHS Boards through the overall Health Portfolio budget.

The Scottish Government does not hold details of all such arrangements and therefore you may wish to contact individual Boards for further details. The reasons why we do not have the information are explained in the Annex 2 to this letter.

As outlined at Annex 1, an exemption under section 33(1)(b) of FOISA (commercial interests) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure of this particular information would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the commercial interests of some of the organisations providing these services.

Annex 1

NHSScotland Board External Contractor Information
NHS Ayrshire and Arran Exemption under section 33(1)(b).
NHS Borders Exemption under section 33(1)(b).
NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde Bold Revolutions Details not held by Scottish Government
NHS Highland PricewaterhouseCoopers £989,000. (March 2019 to August 2019).
NHS Highland Exemption under section 33(1)(b).
NHS Highland Exemption under section 33(1)(b).
NHS Highland External Contractor £105,000 (April 2019 to July 2019).

Annex 2 - Reasons for not providing information
The Scottish Government does not have the information

Section 17(1) of FOISA (information not held) requires the Scottish Government to notify you if it does not have the information you requested. The Scottish Government does not have all of the information you have asked for because Health Boards can make their own independent arrangements with external contractors.

This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

An exemption applies, subject to the public interest test

An exemption under section 33(1)(b) (commercial interests) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested. This exemption covers the confidential information from another organisation. This has been applied to current contracts, subject to the ‘public interest test’.

This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open and transparent government, and to help account for the expenditure of public money. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the commercial interests of companies which enter into, contracts with Scottish Government and Health Boards, to ensure that we are always able to obtain the best value for public money.

About FOI
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG