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Headhunting fee ‘a waste of NHS cash’

(iStock)
(iStock)

A cash-strapped health board has come under fire after spending up to £50,000 on recruitment consultants in a failed bid to find a new chief executive.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is facing up to £300m in cuts which could see hospitals close and bed numbers slashed.

But last November health chiefs authorised the hiring of a top firm to try to find a replacement for current boss Robert Calderwood.

He was scheduled to leave last month but has been asked to stay on until the end of March after Gatenby Sanderson failed to find anyone suitable for the £171,000-a-year role.

The Sunday Post asked the health board three times how much money was spent on the failed consultancy, but a spokeswoman for the trust would only confirm the fee was “up to £50,000”.

A second round of recruitment has now been launched – using the NHS’s own human resources department.

Critics last night slammed the spending at a time when frontline services at Scotland’s biggest health board were under severe strain.

Labour health spokesman Anas Sarwar said: “Just last week a memo from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde revealed that the health board could be forced to make more than £300 million worth of cuts because of SNP mismanagement.

“Now it turns out the same health board has wasted up to £50,000 on a failed search for a new boss.

“With services facing closure or downgrading, people will rightly think this is money that could be better spent on patient care.”

The health board is consulting on plans to cut community maternity units at Vale of Leven and Inverclyde, the children’s ward at Royal Alexandra, and Lightburn Hospital in the east end of Glasgow.

A document leaked earlier this month revealed the need for £333m in savings over the next five years. A draft acute service report warned bed numbers would need to be cut and units closed.

However, the health board said the financial forecast in the paper referred to a potential shortfall only if the board “stood still” and made no changes.

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “Spending £50,000 on recruitment consultants who have clearly failed at their job is £50,000 that is not being spent on patient care.

“With Audit Scotland showing that the number of NHS vacancies has increased and spending on agency staff doubling since 2011, NHS Greater Glasgow need to be far more careful about making sure their use of recruitment consultants represents value for money.”

A health board spokeswoman said: “The board sought an executive search company to support its recruitment of a new chief executive. Gatenby Sanderson was the successful company both on quality and value for money.

“Following an unsuccessful recruitment process we have begun a second recruitment process and are confident that an appointment will be made shortly.

“The recruitment process is being led internally within NHS Scotland.”