Releasing Resources to the Frontline - The Department of Health's Review of Its Arm's Length Bodies: Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General - HC Session 2007-08, 237 (Paperback)

by Great Britain: National Audit Office

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Arm's Length Bodies (ALBs) are stand-alone, national organisations that are sponsored by the Department of Health to deliver specialised services and functions. ALBs range in size but normally have boards, employ staff, publish accounts, and receive substantial funding from the Department.In 2003-04, there were 38 ALBs, employing some 25,000 staff and receiving GBP 1.2 billion grant-in-aid funding. "Releasing Resources to the Frontline: the Department of Health's Review of its Arm's Length Bodies (HC 237)" examines the allocation of resources and potential efficiencies that such bodies require.There are four categories of ALB: Regulation of the healthcare system (e.g. Healthcare Commission); Establishing of national standards for healthcare (e.g. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)); Safety and public welfare (e.g. Health Protection Agency); and, Provision of central services to the NHS (e.g. NHS Litigation Authority).The National Audit Office has set out a number of recommendations, including: To deliver efficiencies in ALBs, targets should focus on value for money defined in terms of total resources; Departments must be clear about what targets mean in practice and any decisions to merge or reconfigure such bodies should be based on an Impact Assessment, identifying the costs and benefits of the change; Departments intending to deliver efficiencies through their ALBs should map out their ALB sector and understand the individual circumstances of the particular ALB; Departments should establish baseline performance and financial metrics; Sponsors or other parts of the Department should not commission new work from ALBs without prior discussion with the central ALB finance team; and, After the conclusion of the ALB Review in 2008-09, good practice governance arrangements should be maintained with appropriate assessment of the purpose and value for money of any new ALBs established.

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