As part of its contribution to the government's much-trumpeted public sector savings, the number of so-called arms-length health bodies will be nearly halved at the cost of 11,000 jobs. One body for the chop is the Health Development Agency. But what are arm's length bodies anyway and how will health care be affected? To answer that question, you'll want to read the MHF's guide to the ALBs.
The Health Development Agency is to be abolished in a streamlining of the number of NHS bodies that work at 'arm's length' from the Department of Health. Health Secretary John Reid believes £500 million can be saved in this way and channelled into patient care.
He told the House of Commons in a written statement that 'reducing the cost of arm's length bodies will generate resources that are the equivalent of four new hospitals or 20,000 more nurses by 2008. The arm's length body sector has done a lot of good work, but it has grown over several decades and no longer meets current health and social care needs or those of future generations.
'Arm's length bodies need to be streamlined in number and functions. They must adopt a different approach so that their functions are delivered effectively and the time spent by frontline staff responding to central needs is minimised.'
ALBs are stand-alone national organisations sponsored by and accountable to the Department of Health. Legally, there are three main types of ALB:
Confusingly, the Health Development Agency is actually a special health authority so just becuase you're called an agency doesn't mean you are an agency. The first ALB was the Dental Practice Board established in 1948. In 2003/4, there were 38 ALBs.
Since May 1997, the Department has already abolished more than 15 bodies. The new shake-up will see the number of Department of Health arm's length bodies reduced by almost half from 38 to 20 and see a 25 per cent reduction in the 22,000 staff working in the sector by 2008.
The TUPE (Transfer of Undertaking, Protection of Employment) Regulations which act to preserve employee terms and conditions where work is transferred to other organisations do not apply to transfer of administrative functions within the public sector but the Cabinet Office
says it has a statement of practice to ensure that staff are treated no less favourably than had TUPE applied.
The government says: 'All employers have a duty to try to avoid redundancies and this key principle will underpin the processes that are developed to manage the change. There are a number of ways of
ensuring this happens and we will expect organisations to work together to ensure that redeployment processes are in place to match displaced people to available posts wherever possible. Where redundancies do take place staff will be entitled to the packages and notice periods that
pertain to their contracts of employment.'
The changes include:
The chief executives of both NICE and the HDA have welcomed their particular merger. Andrew Dillon, chief executive of NICE said: 'Bringing NICE and the HDA programmes together offers the chance to make more than just the sum of parts. We will work closely with our colleagues in public health to ensure that this is the case.
Paul Streets, chief executive of the HDA said: 'We welcome this announcement as it brings to an end speculation about the future of the work we have been doing. It is gratifying to know that our work will continue and we look forward to working with NICE to create what will be one of the most influential health and health care guidance organisations in the world.'
Over the summer, the government will be looking at how the changes will be implemented and over what timescales. The Department plans to develop a memorandum of understanding on human resources processes with those organisations affected by the review. This will be developed in partnership with the relevant arms length bodies.
Page created on August 1st, 2004
Page updated on December 1st, 2009