Medical Republic: Infestation of consultants is a threat to our health

In last month’s public inquiry by the NSW government into the Use and Management of Consulting Services, inquiry chair Abigail Boyd asked a very simple question of acting PwC CEO Kristin Stubbins.

The question neatly laid bare the size and nature of the problem we face in Australia’s healthcare consulting ecosystem.

Why are roughly 660 consultants with PwC – an “infestation”, Boyd said – sitting on up to 900 public boards across the country?

Boyd then pressed Stubbins into quite a tight corner.

“It seems like the perfect business model to me,” she said.  

“[It works by], first of all, redesigning a health structure – which I know PwC had had quite a hand in – to devolve it into this board structure, to then put consultants onto boards, who are then critical in terms of giving work to other consultants while on those boards, building that relationship and then having a steady flow of income once they go back to their practices.” 

It appears highly unusual, Boyd continued, that PwC would allow so many staff members to sit on public boards without an ulterior motive, especially given that board work tends to involve hours-long meetings during workdays.  

Stubbins’ reply was astounding (and revealing). She vehemently denied that there was an underlying business strategy at PwC that encouraged employees to seek out board work in order to generate new clients.  

“I am devoted to serving the community,” she said. “I’ve been recognised for that, and I do many things to contribute my time. I sought to take an unpaid position as a board member because I thought I could do some good with my financial expertise for the taxpayers of NSW.” 

The large number of PwC consultants on public boards were simply individuals who were passionate about delivering community service working for a company that had the same passion, she suggested.

“We believe that that’s aligned with the PwC purpose,” she said.

At this point of the proceedings it wasn’t at all clear if Stubbins actually believed the line she was pushing.

 

Read the full article.

 

Source: Knibbs, J., The Medical Republic, "Infestation of consultants is a threat to our health", published 28 July 2023, https://www.medicalrepublic.com.au/infestation-of-consultants-is-a-threat-to-our-health/96008

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