Around 0.3% of the NHS's £96bn budget in 2007/8 was spent on external consultancy — a total of £300m, according to the Management Consultants' Association (MCA).
But many consultancy projects have led to savings far in excess of their cost, said the MCA.
‘The scale and the complexity of the NHS makes it impossible to run without management intervention,' said the MCA report Improving Care, Reducing Cost.
The management consultants also call for greater use of performance-related contracts and a reduction in the use of interim managers in the NHS.
But the BMA and the RCN have recently condemned the increasing use of management consultants as a waste of money and evidence of the creeping privatisation of the NHS.
An investigation by the RCN in May estimated the NHS spent £350m on management consultants in 2007/8.