PracticeConsultingDobson attacks NHS waiting list accountant

Dobson attacks NHS waiting list accountant

Health secretary Frank Dobson launched a bitter attack last week on Chantrey Vellacott over the way it monitors NHS waiting lists, branding the firm 'two-bit accountants'.

An economic model run by the firm, which was ranked 19th in Accountancy Age‘s Top 50, forecast that waiting lists would soar by 200,000 people by March next year, against a government target of zero.

Dobson, speaking on BBC Radio 4, rejected claims that the latest cut of more than 45,000 patients in the queue for hospital treatment involved ‘fiddling the figures’.

He said: ‘The rules governing the Office of National Statistics, which compiled the figures, were the same as before, free of ministerial interference.’

But Dobson vented his anger on Chantrey Vellacott when he was told that the firm was ‘extremely dubious’ about the government’s claims. He said: ‘I don’t give a stuff what the firm of accountants says. These are the figures produced in exactly the same way they have been produced in the past.’

Dobson explained medical staff were working longer, and 2,000 more beds were being brought into operation, with an extra 1,000 saved from closure. He added: ‘It is an immense credit to the people in the health service, and I won’t have some two-bit accountants taking that away from them.’

Maurice Fitzpatrick, Chantrey Vellacott’s head of economics and an adviser to the Liberal Democrats, stood by his queuing theory model. He said the firm’s managing partner John Roberts had written to Dobson advising he limited his remarks to ones that were ‘supportable’.

Fitzpatrick, who frequently challenges government figures, added: ‘I am disappointed that a Cabinet minister should resort to arbitrary comments. If his figures stand up, then there is no need to embellish them with disparaging remarks about others.’

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