Little’s big fees costing New Zealand vital ICU beds

The $1.4 million spent by Minister of Health Andrew Little on consultants working on his ill-conceived restructure of the health system over just two months could have paid for two new, fully-resourced ICU beds, says National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti.

“In July and August alone, Andrew Little paid Ernst & Young consultants enough money to add a new ICU bed for each month.

“The running tally of consultancy fees alone for the Minister’s vanity project so far now stands more than $7.2 million – a staggering figure when we consider the dire shortage of funding for ICU beds and other facilities vital to the Covid response.

“District health boards with low ICU capacity, such as Lakes, Tairāwhiti and Northland, would have a much greater safety net for the Covid response if they had just a few extra ICU beds.

“But, even now, it’s all a bit too late for a Minister who built no new ICU beds in Auckland in 15 months, failed to fast-track new nursing staff and brought in a pay freeze that actually drove ICU nurses to Australia.

“Andrew Little may argue the toss on the numbers but he can’t deny that he declined a request from Auckland DHB to use $6 million in leftover funding to build negative pressure rooms and then ended up building them in the middle of a pandemic.

“At the end of the day, Andrew Little’s consultants can’t put up a drip or run a ventilator, and that is what New Zealanders need right now.”

You can read a letter of correction from Minister of Health Andrew Little here.

Reply 39564 (2021) has been answered to Dr Shane Reti
Portfolio: Health (Hon Andrew Little)
Question: Has Ernst Young been paid as consultants to the health system restructuring Transition Unit and if so, how much have they been paid ?
Reply: I am advised that from August 2020 to June 2021, the total spend against the Ernst & Young contract with the Health and Disability Review Transition Unit is NZ$4,327,087.72