In a response to a tip off from a TPA activist, I issued a Freedom of Information request to the 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Trust in the North West. The issue was over their annual report, not so much the content of the report itself, but the brochure produced at the taxpayers’ expense.
At a cost of £4 per copy, 1500 copies were produced, resulting in a bill to the taxpayer of £6000. As you can see above, it's clearly an expensive, hefty report. My source was sent 3 of these by post, at a cost of roughly £8 postage – odd seeing as the Trust could easily have emailed the report to our activist.
Seeing as the Trust didn’t send any by email, this resulted in a total postage bill for all posted reports of £21.20. That doesn’t sound that bad, but factor in that the Trust only posted 40 sets of accounts, it raises an interesting question:
1. If the Trust was only planning to send out 40 annual reports, why did they order 1500 copies?
Part of the answer lies in the Trust’s response. To distribute the remaining 1460 annual reports, they were “taken to events and distributed in the organisation”. So, we have to ask,
2. Why did the Trust order 1500 copies of the annual report seeing as only 40 were sent them and/or actively asked for them?
3. Couldn’t the report have been internally emailed within the organisation?
4. How many people work for the Five Boroughs Partnership NHS Trust?
You can ask these questions by contacting the freedom of information officer at the Trust and asking these much needed questions.
£6021.20 may not seem like a lot of money in the total budget of an NHS Trust. It seems even less compared to the budgets of whole government departments. But when we compare it to the £4,539.60p maximum basic state pension for a single person this year and suddenly we see the money spent on these annual reports could have made a big difference elsewhere. This report should have been internally emailed and sent electronically where possible to save money – ordering 1500 hardcopies therefore amounts to a gross waste of taxpayers’ money.
It is precisely this culture of waste we need to root out and expose. If politicians and public servants think that wasting one penny of taxpayers’ money is a bad idea, then they’ll be less inclined to waste thousands and millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money. Think of it as Broken Windows Policing on the state sector’s spending, if we stop the low level waste, there’ll be no wasters around to squander huge sums of taxpayers’ money.