Headlines: April 1st, 1999

Following the launch of the Modernising government programme yesterday, today sees the pace of change accelerating. The following are some of the major changes taking place.

Criminal Justice
Local authorities and police have worked jointly on developing strategies for the reduction of crime and disorder. Implementation of the strategies starts today.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence begins work. It will develop clinical standards through a series of national frameworks.

The NHS Information Authority comes into being. It will improve the use of information and develop clinical information standards.

More than 400 Primary Care Groups, which include all general practices, come into operation. They provide primary care to their local population and will eventually commission hospital and community services. They provide for population sizes varying from 46,000 to over 250,000 people.

Local Government
The Improvement and Development Agency starts its task of helping local authorities to improve effectiveness. The Agency will develop self assessment through peer group reviews. It will also exchange good practice and stimulate learning and development opportunities.

Policy Development
The Centre for Policy and Management Studies provides joint training for Ministers and officials. It will also organise a programme of peer reviews.

Regional Governance
Regional Development Agencies for each region in England are launched today. They are business led bodies responsible for co-ordinating inward investment, raising people’s skills, improving the competitiveness of business and promoting social and physical regeneration.