Last update 21st. May 2004



John Reid the English Minister for Health announced steps to reduce NHS bureaucracy by halving the number of quango's currently in operation. The quangos, which are nominally independent but rely on government funding, have a combined staff of 22,000 people with budgets totalling £2.5 billion. They include watchdogs, like the Healthcare Commission and the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, and regulators, like the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority and the General Social Care Council. The list includes the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health, controversially set up in January last year after a two-year battle by the government to abolish the community health council watchdogs. More information on which bodies are to be axed should be announced by the end of June

More at BBC News

And the DoH Press release

Arms Length Bodies To Be Reduced By 50% And Saving £0.5 billion by 2007/08 Health Secretary John Reid today outlined parameters for further reductions in Whitehall bureaucracy so that increased resources can be channelled directly to frontline NHS patient care. In a written Commons statement John Reid set out the findings of the first stage of the Department of Health's review of its 'Arms Length Bodies'. In line with Sir Peter Gershon's review of public sector efficiency and the Department's own principle of devolving responsibility to frontline NHS and social care, the review has concluded that:

As a result, John Reid has decided that by 2007/08 there will be a:

The review covers 42 separate arms length bodies, employing more than 22,000 staff. The combined annual budget is currently more than £2.5 billion. John Reid said:

"I want to see more staff and resources at the frontline delivering better patient care across the country. I want to see improved efficiency, reduced bureaucracy and better value for money. The Department of Health is leading the way and we have already announced that we are cutting the number of civil servants by 38%. But it's important that this shift in the balance of power away from Whitehall to patients and frontline staff in the regions is carried out across the NHS. "Now the first stage of the review has made clear that there is considerable scope for further savings among the national functions sponsored by the Department of Health. "The arms length body sector does much good work. However it has grown over several decades and does not meet current health and social care needs or those of future generations. If left unchanged the arms length bodies would employ about 10 times the number of staff of the Department of Health at the end of its' restructuring programme. "Changes on this scale would mean that considerable extra resources could be re-deployed on the ground. "The next stage of the review will involve consulting with individual bodies on proposals for merger, rationalisation or abolition. This should be completed by the end of June, so that the final outcome can be announced before the summer recess."

Mike Reddin

ph: 020 8544 0324 or mob: 0771 314 7351

20 May 2004