The NHS Information Centre has come out of the Department of Health’s arms length body review with a promise that it will be put on a firmer statutory footing and given new responsibilities.

The Information Centre is one of the winners from the review, which proposes to abolish a number of quangos and put the work of many of those that remain on a more commercial footing.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley said the changes announced this morning will cut the number of health ALBs from 18 to between eight and ten and deliver savings of more than £180m by 2014-15.

Lansley said: “Over the years, the sector has grown to the point where overlap between organisations and duplication of effort has produced a needless[ly] bureaucratic web.

“By making sure that the right functions are being carried out at the appropriate level, we will free up significant savings to support front-line NHS services.”

The DH says the Information Centre will be retained and “put on a firmer statutory footing by establishing it in primary legislation.”

In line with the white paper ‘Liberating the NHS’, it will become a “national repository for data collection across healthcare, public health and adult social care.”

It will also have a “clearer focus on data collection” and a close working relationship with the new NHS Commissioning Board, which the white paper proposes to make responsible for information governance, data quality and systems interoperability.

Another winner from the review is the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, which will also be put on a statutory footing and given responsibility for setting social care standards.

The other big ALBs, Monitor and the Care Quality Commission, will become a market regulator and a quality inspectorate respectively, with the CQC losing its responsibility for commissioning support to the Commissioning Board but potentially picking up work from other ALBs.

The ALBs to be abolished include the Food Standards Authority, the Alcohol Education and Research Council and the Health Protection Agency, with the latter’s functions transferred to the new Public Health Service.

The National Patient Safety Agency will also go, with its safety functions transferred to the Commissioning Board and its research and ethics service to a new, single research regulator that the government is considering.

The NHS Business Services Authority and the NHS Litigation Authority are among a number of ALBs that will be retained but expected to explore opportunities for commercial involvement.

The NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement will be abolished altogether and its functions “delivered through alternative commercial delivery models.”

NHS Connecting for Health was not included in the review, because it is officially the delivery arm of the DH Informatics Directorate.

A letter issued to the health service by NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson said the directorates would not be affected by NHS restructuring in the short term.

Link: Department of Health:Review of arms length bodies to cut bureaucracy.