NHS Digital has denied a battle of curiosity with consultancy agency Accenture following studies it spent 15% of its price range in a single yr with the corporate the place two board members beforehand labored.
Noel Gordon and Daniel Benton, who each beforehand labored for Accenture, had been members of NHS Digital’s board when the organisation spent £33 million with the agency.
Gordon was chair of NHS Digital till August 2020 whereas Benton stays a non-executive director.
NHS Digital awarded contracts price £33m to Accenture in 2018/19, out of its whole working expenditure of £218m – totalling 15% of its price range.
Some £18m of this was spent on the NHSMail contract, based on the 2018/19 annual report and accounts.
Each Gordon and Benton held shares with Accenture on the time the contracts had been awarded, the report states.
An additional £50m was spent with the corporate in 2019/20, together with £2.6m of capital commitments, based on that yr’s annual report. The spending quantities to round 20% of NHS Digital’s whole working expenditure of practically £224m in the identical yr.
NHS Digital stated each Gordon and Benton declared their curiosity and had no direct function in awarding the contracts.
“All staff of NHS Digital no matter contract kind are required to adjust to the Register of Curiosity coverage. The place a battle exists, now we have processes in place to make sure staff aren’t concerned in choice making processes,” a spokesperson stated.
“Not one of the people talked about had any direct involvement within the procurement course of or in choices round awarding contracts to Accenture.
“Our board members come from a variety of backgrounds, together with each medical and inside the expertise and IT sector, and convey a wealth of related expertise and experience to the function.
“All people talked about had been clear in declaring their pursuits with Accenture and that is revealed in our annual report.”
Gordon was previously international managing director of banking trade apply at Accenture from 1996 till 2012. Benton was international head of expertise and digital technique practices on the agency.
In an announcement supplied by NHS Digital, Daniel Benton stated: “As a non-executive director I’ve performed no half in any stage of the choice course of and as such any allegations of a battle of curiosity are utterly unfounded.”
The potential conflicts, first reported by the Financial Times, raised alarm bells with the Centre for Well being and Public Curiosity. David Rowland from the think-tank informed the FT it was “regarding that there are a variety of shut hyperlinks between the 2 organisations which give rise to potential conflicts of curiosity and alternatives for undue affect”.
Accenture has gained a complete of 94 contracts price £480m from public authorities within the UK because the begin of 2016, based on contracts analysis agency Tussell. One in all their greatest contract awards, based on Tussell’s analysis, was a £48m contract with NHS Digital to ship a safety hub awarded in 2019.
NHS Digital stated contracts for the NHSMail programme and cyber safety service Safe Boundary, which Accenture gives, had been awarded in open competitors.
The NHSMail service was procured competitively by way of the Crown Business Service framework ‘Managed Electronic mail Providers’ and awarded to Accenture in June 2015.
Safe Boundary which gives specialist cyber providers to NHS organisations, was procured competitively by way of Crown Business Providers ‘Know-how Providers 2 Framework’ and awarded in July 2019, based on data supplied by NHS Digital.
“We’re required to adjust to public sector procurement guidelines and are dedicated to making sure honest and open competitors when awarding contracts.
NHS Digital works with an entire vary of companions and suppliers from small SMEs to giant multi-national organisations to design and ship a variety of methods which may present the very best service to the NHS and to ship for healthcare staff and sufferers.
“Accenture is a number one expertise provider and has been profitable in demonstrating worth for cash in NHS Digital tendering workout routines together with many others.”
A spokesperson for Accenture stated: “Our contracts with NHS Digital had been awarded following a aggressive public tender course of and we’re happy with our work supporting main NHS initiatives together with the supply of Microsoft Groups throughout Covid and vital enhancements to NHS Mail, Workplace 365 and cyber safety providers for all NHS customers.”