Management consulting giant McKinsey was paid more £500,000 by the government to advise on the formation of a new public health authority in England.
Health secretary Matt Hancock announced in a speech on Tuesday that Public Health England was to be replaced with a new body called the National Institute for Health Protection.
The new institute will be formed through a merger of NHS Test and Trace, the Joint Biosecurity Centre and parts of PHE, and will have a mission of “protecting people form external threats to this country’s health”.
Hancock said external threats amounted to biological weapons, pandemics and infectious diseases.
A newly released contract shows that McKinsey was paid £563,400 in May to formulate the “vision, purpose and narrative” of the new body and to draw up a document outlining these points, according to the Financial Times.
The contract was published just days before Hancock’s speech, which also included the announcement that NHS Test and Trace chief Baroness Dido Harding would lead the new institute.
Harding is also a former consultant at McKinsey.
The management consulting firm worked with Harding on the project, along with other members of the government’s Covid response team.
A McKinsey spokesperson said: “Our UK public sector work is contracted by government officials under existing public procurement rules.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “All contracts have been awarded in line with procurement regulations, which allows for contracts to be awarded directly in exceptional circumstances such as a global pandemic.”