Headlines: August 7th, 2003

The Department of Health has set up a team to reduce bureaucracy and to co-ordinate all bureaucracy reducing work that is going on within the Department. The move has been prompted by a further joint review report by the Regulatory Impact Unit in the Cabinet Office and the DoH which uncovered a heavy burden of unnecessary work.This latest review, which is the fourth in a series, found that bodies responsible for inspection, accreditation and audit of NHS Trusts are working independently and making unco-ordinated demands which the Trusts are struggling to meet. The review recommends 55 ways to cut red tape. The prime task of the team is to get the recommendations implemented

Inspections are carried out by a range of statutory and professional bodies and they place a significant burden on Trust managers and their staff. Much time and effort is spent in preparing for an inspection as well as meeting the needs of the inspectors during the process. In a move to bring a more joined up approach to inspection the DoH is developing a Healthcare Inspection Concordat to improve co-operation between reviewing bodies. The Concordat will aim not only to reduce burdens, but also share good practice.

The review also found that heavy demands for information are made on Trusts and as with inspections there is no co-ordination. In particular the review highlights inconsistencies and duplication. The scrutiny of health issues by local councils has added to the need for information. It is planned to get a grip on information demands through local bureaucracy Gateways where all requests will be filtered. Trusts are being urged to identify local champions to promote the Gateways.

Ray Powles CBE, Professor of Haematological Oncology, The Royal Marsden NHS Trust said: “As a shop floor doctor and manager I welcome with open arms the implementation of the bold and imaginative steps proposed in this report. It will significantly reduce the red tape and unnecessary duplication for ensuring hospitals are safe and good.”