Plans to cut bureaucracy in the NHS by a third are “ambitious but realistic”, the man leading the government’s post-Francis paperwork review has told HSJ.
NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar was asked to lead the review by health secretary Jeremy Hunt earlier this month as part of the government’s response to the Report of the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust Public Inquiry.
Mr Hunt has previously pledged that any changes made in response to the report will not increase the bureaucratic burden on hospitals.
Mr Farrar told HSJ the review would start by looking at the reason for information collections, and would look at reducing duplication between organisations as well as whether technology could make collecting information more efficient.
He said: “Everything’s in play. It’s not just the what, it is the how as well. If we are going to get anywhere near the aspiration of the prime minister and secretary of state we have got to provide a much more radical view of what we are collecting information for.”
Mr Farrar said, in line with Mr Francis’ recommendations, he will also focus on increasing transparency.
Mr Farrar added: “If the justification for keeping information is for accountability, then is that transparent? Is it available in the way the public can understand and see it?”
A previous review of bureaucracy by the NHS Confederation in 2009 found NHS providers were asked to provide 305 data returns to the Department of Health and its arm’s length bodies. It called for providers to have the right to challenge organisations asking for data, when more than one asks for similar information.
Mr Farrar said the previous review provided the Confederation with a “good platform of understanding” which gave him a “running chance” of being able to provide useful insight to the government before it responds to the Francis report in March.
The former NHS North West chief executive plans to spend time on hospital wards as part of the review and is keen to hear suggestions from all parts of the NHS for how the paperwork burden could be reduced.
“[Getting back] a third of people’s time could have a real impact. The success of this work will be demonstrated by whether this has made a material impact on people at ward level,” he added.
Announcing the review earlier this month, Mr Hunt said: “Endless boxes to tick, cumbersome bureaucracy and burdensome regulations are the problem - they cannot be the solution [to improving care].”