Retired US army general Stanley McChrystal has been drafted in to help with changes to health services in Wakefield.
McChrystal Group, set up by the military commander best known for operations in the controversial Iraq and Afghanistan wars, has been hired for £420,000 to provide consultancy services, it has emerged.
The firm has been working with GPs, commissioners and other bodies in the Wakefield district on a project to help health organisations work together and cut costs.
Funding for the contract came from the national NHS, said a report to the board of Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which controls the local health budget.
The report said: “Wakefield is the only place where this piece of work is happening, hence the significant national investment.”
It added: “£419k is the total cost.”
The CCG confirmed that McChrystal Group had a contract with West Wakefield Health and Wellbeing, a federation of GP practices.
As part of the project Gen McChrystal took part in a “covert mission” with NHS bodies at five-star Oulton Hall.
West Wakefield said on its website: “The famous man himself even joined the seminar live by Skype from his office in Yale University so the participants could debrief to him directly.”
On day two of the event “the Weetabix were left to one side and participants were challenged with a series of physical and team challenges.”
A presentation to NHS bosses in London compared the challenge of getting NHS organisations to work together to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It said: “We recognise that those difficulties that are endemic and have been blocking proper integration of services for decades were what the US Army met when they were trying to defeat Al Qaeda in Iraq.”
The document, which quotes West Wakefield’s Dr Chris Jones, suggested the project could be expanded to the whole health service.
It said: “It’s exactly the same model that we’ve got here. So what we´re trying to do is transplant the learning from that battlefield into Wakefield to start with and if it works roll it out across the country.”
The project had helped free-up time for busy GPs, said the presentation. It added: “We’ve saved 9,000 hours of GP time with pharmacists over the time it’s been going.”
Gen McChrystal commanded the US Joint Special Operations Command in the mid-2000s.
His Wikipedia page said: “In Iraq, he personally directed special operations, where his work there is viewed as ‘pivotal’.
“Early successes included the capture by JSOC forces of Saddam Hussein in December 2003.”
On its website the McChrystal Group, based six miles away from the Pentagon in Alexandria, Virginia, said it was made up of “a diverse mix of professionals from the military, intelligence community, academia, and private sector.”
It said: “After retiring from the military in 2010, General McChrystal and like-minded colleagues explored how they could capture the lessons they learned in counterterrorism and translate them into the private sector, based on the premise that businesses today are experiencing parallels to what General McChrystal and his colleagues faced in the war theater.”
In a statement Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group said the funding to pay McChyrstal came from the NHS New Models of Care Programme.
The CCG said: “NHS Wakefield CCG is working with the Models of Care Programme to evaluate and review the working of The McChrystal Group with West Wakefield Health and Wellbeing Board Ltd to ensure value, but at this stage is unable to comment further on the progression of this.”