The network of public bodies across Scotland’s financially beleaguered NHS is spending nearly £14 million a year on external consultants, sparking criticism at a time when many organisations are seeking to make cost savings in order to deal with spiralling deficits.

The Scotsman’s ongoing investigative series into the financial stewardship of the nation’s quangos can reveal that the annual external consultancy bill for Scotland’s 14 regional health boards alone stands at more than £7.6m, drawing criticism from unions at a time when grave concerns remain around NHS budgets.

The spending records, disclosed under the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act, show that across Scotland’s 24 public health bodies, more than £13.8m was spent on external consultants in 2022/23. However, the overall spend is likely to be even higher, given several bodies could not provide any figures, despite being legally bound to do so, or submitted incomplete information.

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