The Department of Health has a long way to go to meet its commitment to cut the administrative burden on regulation of NHS services by 2010, the NHS Confederation has warned.
Last week, the department published its Simplification Plan Year Two, which reveals a 2 per cent saving in the administrative burden affecting the private sector was made in 2006.
This compares with an 11 per cent saving the previous year. The target is to save 25 per cent of the£1.2bn spent in private sector administration by 2010.
The government also wants to reduce the administrative burden on the public sector by over£800m by 2010, including a 30 per cent reduction in central data collections to cut unnecessary bureaucracy for frontline staff. The plan does not make clear how much progress has been made.
NHS Confederation policy director Nigel Edwards said: 'Is it a cheap shot to say the simplification plan, which is over 80 pages long, doesn't immediately signal that a drop in bureaucracy is happening?'
The plan recognises that the bureaucratic burden on frontline staff comes not just from the DoH but also from the Healthcare Commission, the Clinical Negligence Scheme and trusts themselves.
Mr Edwards said: 'The Healthcare Commission has done quite a bit of weeding out of information that they need but there is still a bit of a tendency to say we must have everything, just in case, even if we don't really look at it, type information collecting going on. I give them credit for what they have done but I still think they have got a long way to go.'
He added that the administrative savings which were being sought were not cash savings - 'the scale of them would not be terribly noticeable in even a large trust'.
A spokesman for the DoH said: 'Effective regulation that delivers patient confidence and protection whilst minimising unnecessary bureaucracy and cost to the NHS and adult social care frontline and business is essential if we are to allow them to get on with what they do best, delivering better services and developing world-class products. Our latest plan shows we are achieving that balance.'