The Department of Health has confirmed that BT’s new local service provider deal for London is one of the contracts that will be reviewed by the new government to ensure value for money.

A joint Treasury and Cabinet Office Efficiency and Reform Group, led by Paymaster General Francis Maude, is examining all new contracts worth more than £1m as part of a number of measures to make savings “quickly.”

The group is also looking to review major government projects – including ICT projects – to see which can be scaled back or halted, has frozen advertising and consultancy spending and is looking to cut civil service recruitment and expenses.

In relation to the BT deal, a DH spokesperson said: “In common with what is happening across government, every new contract over a £1m is being reviewed.”

The new coalition government is also taking steps to cut back on Quangos. The DH has confirmed that it is to review all its arms length bodies, executive agencies, special health authorities and advisory groups.

These include the Information Centre, the National Patient Safety Agency, the Care Quality Commission and Monitor, and the Patient Information Advisory Group.

The DH spokesperson said this review did not affect NHS Connecting for Health, which is officially the delivery arm of its informatics directorate.

However, the NHS IT agency is likely to be caught up in the general search for ‘efficiency savings’ that will be set out in the emergency Budget on 22 June.

As well as reviewing government spending, the Efficiency and Reform Group is leading the coalition’s drive to open up more data to the public.

On Monday, it published the salaries of 172 civil servants earning more than the Prime Minister, including those of a number of directors of the NHS.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister David Cameron followed this with a letter to government departments setting out more data publishing requirements. These included the immediate publication of hospital infection data on the website.

From today, hospitals will be required to publish information about MRSA and C.difficile infections weekly. Previously, MRSA and C.difficile infection rates for trusts were published annually. The government plans to publish information about other infections, such as E.coli, later.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: "This is an important step towards our broader plans to provide more relevant information to patients.

"We want to make the large amounts of data that are already collected and used internally in the NHS work for patients, not just managers.”

Cameron’s letter also says that new central government ICT contracts will be published online from July.

It further requires that government departments and agencies ensure that any information published includes the underlying data in an open, standardised format.

Link: Letter from David Cameron