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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 November, 2004, 15:54 GMT
NHS university axed in quango cut
Image of NHS staff
The changes aim to free up staff time
A year-old NHS University will face the chop as part of the government's streamlining of quangos.

Health Secretary John Reid announced the move as he outlined a timetable to cut "Arm's Length Bodies" by half and save 500m by 2007/08.

The NHS Modernisation Agency also will be dissolved in July.

The work of both will be taken over by a new NHS Institute for Learning, Skills and Innovation, employing 300 rather than the current 1,500 staff.

This government is reducing the administrative burden on frontline NHS staff
Health Secretary John Reid

The university was set up last autumn to teach people entering healthcare employment for the first time and those returning to work in health after a break, as well as staff those already working in the service.

Back in May, Mr Reid estimated over 5,000 health service job cuts could be needed over the next four years as part of the shake-up.

He said the present set up no longer met the health and social care needs of today or the future, and that many of the existing bodies overlapped and had the same roles.

Announcing the details of the reform on Tuesday, he said: "This is a vital step in the NHS's long-term programme of reform to improve efficiency and reduce bureaucracy.

"The framework document I am publishing today sets out a clear structure for the remaining arms length bodies, along with specific timescales for change.

"By improving efficiency and cutting bureaucracy in arms length bodies, this government is reducing the administrative burden on frontline NHS staff while freeing up extra resources for services for NHS patients. "

Reform

The chief executive of the NHS University (NHSU) Bob Fryer will be moved to a new role as National Director for Widening Participation in Learning for the NHS.

Barbara Stephens, chairwoman of the university, said: "NHSU has been fully operational for only a year, and the reasons for setting it up, the objectives it set itself and the ways of working it espoused still hold and are still important.

"The board hopes that these will be carried forward into the new organisation, and looks forward to working with the advisory board on how best to make that happen."

Other bodies set to go in April next year include the Health Development Agency, NHS Estates and the National Clinical Assessment Authority.

In October, the National Blood Authority and UK Transplant will merge to become NHS Blood and Transplant.

A new Health and Social Care Information Centre will also be created to co-ordinate and streamline data collection from April next year.

Ministers said this should free up the time of about 400 people in the NHS for frontline operations.

Next April will see the creation of the Human Tissue Authority, only to be axed in 2008 when its role will merge with the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to become the new Regulatory Authority for Fertility and Tissue (RAFT).

Criticism

Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley accused the government of being "all talk" on cutting bureaucracy.

"Any alleged cut is a costly reversal of the government's own huge increase in bureaucracy.

"Five years ago Labour set up the Health Development Agency, today they propose to get rid of it along with the NHS University.

"But this month, the Public Health White Paper pledged to set up two more quangos. Labour are not getting value for the money they spend."

He said a Conservative government would spend more on doctors, nurses, operations and cleaning up hospitals, and less on bureaucracy.

Paul Burstow, Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary, said: "A bonfire of the health quangos is necessary but alone is not sufficient to tackle the culture of NHS targets and tickboxes.

"There also needs to be a bonfire of red tape."


SEE ALSO:
Health quango phased out
01 Apr 03 |  Scotland


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