Health regulatory bodies slashed
The Health Protection Agency, Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and National Patient Safety Agency are among 10 key health regulatory organisations to be abolished or merged with other bodies, the government has proposed.
The Department of Health (DoH) says the changes will reduce the number of so-called "arm's length bodies" from 18 to between eight and 10 and deliver savings of over £180 million by 2014-2015.
The Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley said: "Over the years the sector has grown to the point where overlap between organisations and duplication of effort have produced a needless bureaucratic web. By making sure that the right functions are being carried out at the appropriate level, we will free up significant savings to support front-line National Health Services [NHS]."
Organisations that will remain include NICE (the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence), the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency), and the NHS Information Centre.
And, as highlighted in a separate report, the DoH plans to raise the profile of Monitor as a an economic regulator working alongside the Care Quality Commission.
The NHS Confederation broadly welcomed the proposals, but acting chief executive Nigel Edwards said: "It is important to ensure that this process does not mean important functions carried out by the bodies being abolished are lost to the NHS."
He added: "While this process may help to save money, the sums involved are likely to only make a very small contribution to the £15-20 billion the NHS needs to find over the next 4 years."
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By Caroline Price