Public Accounts Committee Press Notice



National Audit Office report: Dr Foster Intelligence: A joint venture between the Information Centre and Dr Foster LLP

Taxpayers should be very grateful to the anonymous whistleblower who first alerted the National Audit Office to the Department of Health’s hole-and-corner deal with Dr Foster LLP.

There is every reason to support joint ventures between the public and private sectors where there is a fair and competitive tendering process. But that was what was so glaringly missing in this case. The Department simply paid no heed whatsoever to the rules that are set to protect taxpayers’ money and demonstrate value for money.

Not only that: there was an unseemly urgency to complete the deal. And the Department’s blurring the lines between adviser and joint venture partner, by paying Dr Foster itself for advice on a possible joint venture with the private sector, was quite wrong.

To cap it all, the Department in its haste to conclude the deal, possibly paid some £4 million more than its share was worth. In the absence of the competitive pressure inherent in a tender process, it is quite impossible to say how much it is really worth.

The truth is that the Department and its Information Centre cannot demonstrate how investment in this one company, Dr Foster, rather than any other providing similar services, is to the benefit of the NHS.

The Department of Health has failed in its duty to be open to Parliament and the taxpayer.

Notes for Editors

Requests for further comment from Edward Leigh should be made via Luke Robinson, Select Committee Media Officer, on 020 7219 5693 or 07917 488549.