Trusts should be able to show regulators a “yellow card” if they duplicate information requests, the NHS Confederation has claimed.

Its report What’s It All For? Removing unnecessary bureaucracy in regulation calls for regulators and auditors to be given targets and slashed budgets.

It says inspectorates’ duties overlap to an “alarming” extent. The most extreme example it cites are the 47 core standards for recruitment, training and skill mix, monitored by 25 bodies.

It states: “The Department of Health board could do more for both the NHS and independent healthcare sectors to protect them from these pressures, which waste resources and often do little to improve patient care, safety and experience.”

Plans to reduce data burdens may be offset by initiatives associated with the next stage review, such as quality accounts, it warns. It recommends providers have a veto, or “yellow card”, which would provide a formal right to challenge the need to answer similar questions.

Author Peter Mount, chair of Central Manchester University Hospitals foundation trust and former NHS Confederation chair, said levels of duplication were “barking mad”.

He told HSJ: “The DH has a responsibility to protect money being wasted when we’re all meant to be cutting spending.”

Mr Mount said scaling back regulation would not risk scandals like that at Mid Staffordshire foundation trust, where it is feared “appalling” standards of care led to hundreds of deaths: “With all these regulators, how could Mid Staffs happen? The fact they exist gives the comfort that all is well if you’re ticking all the boxes.”

Process driven regulation did not engage clinicians, he said.

“If these processes don’t capture the imagination of doctors and nurses what are they really there for?”

But he said providers also needed to stand up for themselves if faced with unreasonable demands.

See leader.