Bureaucracy will be cut and the functions of several organisations will be streamlined, following a review of arm’s length bodies (ALBs), published by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley yesterday. In total, the changes outlined in yesterday’s report will reduce the number of health ALBs from eighteen to between eight and ten; they are expected to deliver savings of over £180m by 2014/15.
In line with the wider reforms set out in the White Paper, Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS, the Department of Health’s ALB sector will be transformed to cut cost and remove duplication and burdens on the NHS.
The review has assessed whether the work of each of the Department of Health’s 18 Arm’s Length Bodies’ remains essential nationally. It also looked at whether work is being duplicated or could be better carried out by a different body.
Subject to Parliamentary approval, organisations which are no longer needed will be removed from the sector, with essential work moved to other bodies. This process will increase the ability of the organisations to do their important work in the most efficient way. It is also part of the cross-Government strategy to increase accountability and transparency, and to reduce the number and cost of quangos.
Of particular note to those interested in ‘healthcare governance’ is the abolishing of the NHS Appointments Commission and the National Patient Safety Agency.
The NHS Appointments Commission is responsible for handling the appointment of chairs and non-executive directors (NEDs) to the boards of Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs), Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) and NHS trusts. Given that SHAs and PCTs are going, and all NHS trusts will become NHS foundation trusts, and therefore able to appoint their own chairs and NEDs, there will be little role for the NHS Appointments Commission. Hence its demise, with any outstanding work being transferred to the Department of Health.
The National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) has, sadly, never met expectations originally set out for it in the Department of Health document Building a Safer NHS for Patients. From it’s establishment in 2001 it has suffered from poor CEO and board/chair leadership together with ineffective oversight from the Department of Health. The NPSA was castigated by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in 2006 for providing poor value for money.
For further information on which ALBs are being kept and which are being abolished, click here.