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NHS Confederation to lead review of bureaucracy in the NHS, health secretary announces 

The NHS Confederation will lead a review of bureaucracy in the NHS to ensure that staff can focus on delivering safe, effective and compassionate care, the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, announced today (12 February).
form filling 

Patient care

The NHS Confederation last month warned that unless the bureaucratic burden on NHS organisations is reduced, there is a risk that frontline staff's time will be diverted from patient care to form filling and box ticking.

The organisation called on the Department of Health and arms length bodies to take "swift action" to tackle the issue.

Reducing burdens

Announcing the review this afternoon, Mr Hunt said: "I have asked Mike Farrar of the NHS work with all the national bodies to look at how joint inspections and shared information – focused on the things that matter most to clinical success and patient care – can improve clinical outcomes and free up more time to care.

"The objective of this work is to see if it’s possible to reduce bureaucratic burdens by one-third."

Commenting on the announcement, NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar said: "The NHS Confederation has been calling for action on this issue for some time, and it is very promising that the health secretary is listening to our concerns."

Tackling bureaucracy

The review will examine the bureaucratic burdens placed on NHS organisations from data collections and inspections. It will identify opportunities to reduce inefficiency and waste, in order to free frontline staff to deliver care that is consistently safe, effective and compassionate.

The Confederation is currently working with members to look at how they can reduce the administrative burden on their services and staff and analyse which longer term solutions could successfully tackle the issue.

Patients come first

Mike Farrar said: "Patients must always come first if the NHS is to deliver the best and safest care possible. That is the simple defining principle at the heart of the recent Francis report into events at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.

"We need to deliver this principle, and we need help to make sure the system is set up in the right way to allow us to do it.


"We need to make sure that the whole system – including hospitals, commissioners and regulators – revolves around the patient. We need the Government and policymakers to be alive to the dangers of burdening staff and organisations with overly-bureaucratic systems and processes.

Relevant, useful information

"NHS organisations have a responsibility to provide the right information so they are accountable to patients and taxpayers. We need Government, regulators, commissioners and providers working together to focus on what is really important and so we can strike the right balance of collecting relevant, useful information which informs and empowers patients and helps improve NHS services."

Get involved

How is bureaucracy affecting your organisation? To share your views and examples, please email

Find out more 

publication coverDownload Information overload:tackling bureaucracy in the NHS.

Read the NHS Confederation and Independent Healthcare Advisory Services's 2009 review What's it all for? Reducing unnecessary bureaucracy in regulation.

Find out more about the NHS Confederation's work to reduce bureaucracy in the NHS


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Francesca Reville

Georgie Agass

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