Government officials don’t know how they came to employ the Health consultant behind one of their most expensive supplier contracts, who was once criticised in national papers for taking a fee three times as high as the Prime Minister, it has emerged.
Former NHS boss Kim Hodgson has earned more than £300,000 for carrying out a number of human resources-related tasks for Jersey’s Health and Community Services Department since 2018, with her company – Improving Performance Consultancy – currently holding a contract worth between £150,000 and £174,999.
But, despite her contract being among the government’s top five most costly, there appears to be no record of how Ms Hodgson first became involved with Jersey’s health service and was eventually selected to undertake the highly-paid jobs.
A response to a request made under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Law attempting to shed light on the Essex-based consultant – who describes herself on LinkedIn as having been a ‘Technical Assessor’ for Jersey’s Health Department in 2017 – explains that’s because she was engaged by staff, “who no longer work for the organisation”, meaning that “documentation in respect of the process for her engagement has not been able to be retrieved”.
Pictured: Extract from Ms Hodgson's LinkedIn profile.
There is no mention of how much Ms Hodgson was paid for her initial engagement with the Health Department in the FOI response, but it does note that she was originally sourced via an agency to “undertake interviews for senior roles within the States of Jersey”.
From there, she went on to be contracted for more complex tasks in 2018, such as “job planning for medical staff, coaching and mentoring for senior clinical staff, technical assessments, and [acting as an] independent panel member on senior appointments” – items for which she was paid £315,049.
The FOI response, which was compiled in November last year, also notes that her consultancy work was “currently being reviewed”, with an expectation that “many of the previous areas of assistance will no longer be required going forward”.
But a government report published one month later appears to conflict with the claim.
It showed that Ms Hodgson’s contract was due to be extended into 2020 – or had already been – despite no ‘structured needs assessment’ (a review aiming to establish the necessity and cost-effectiveness of an appointment) having taken place.
Pictured: The government said no details about Ms Hodgson's initial appointment could be found because those who recruited her no longer work there.
Express asked the government for a comment on this, but has not received a response.
Ms Hodgson’s rate made national news headlines in 2014 when it was revealed she had been paid £95,000 for just two-and-a-half months’ work at the Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust.
One Daily Mail headline drew comparison with the amount paid to the political head of the country: “Temporary boss parachuted in to help failing NHS trust was paid THREE times as much as the Prime Minister.”
Then when she took up a new role in Southport in 2016, local Liberal Democrats described her as the “NHS Payout Queen”, with one counsellor commenting: “No hospital chief executive should be paid more than the Prime Minister. We need to be assured that Southport hospital's massive debt is not being racked skyward by similar payments.
"What message would that send out to the hard-working medical and support staff being asked forever to make do on limited resources under massive pressures?"
Pictured: A report from the Daily Mail regarding Ms Hodgson's consultancy rates.
Ms Hodgson’s daily rate in Jersey was withheld in the FOI response and the government’s recent report on the use of consultants for commercial sensitivity reasons.
The news comes at a time when government consultancy contracts are facing enhanced scrutiny.
The government has said it will be taking a closer look at procurement as part of efforts to achieve savings of £100m by 2023.
Meanwhile, States Members last year unanimously approved a new law to ensure reports are published twice a year on consultants' pay in a bid to remove "suspicion, rumour and concern" at a time when there had been much criticism of the rates paid out to those assisting with implementing the Chief Executive's 'OneGov' programme.
While the resulting report published in December does not comment on individual contracts, the Chief Minister’s foreword justified the use of contractors largely on the basis of being necessary in instances where the relevant skills were not already present within the current staff body.
Overall, it showed that the government racked up a bill of £11m in just six months in the first half of 2019, with £4.1m spent on consultancy services provided by specific individuals.
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