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NHS bureaucracy ‘will not be coming back’, pledges health secretary


By Emma Wilkinson
4 August 2020

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Bureaucracy that was removed from the NHS due to Covid-19 will not return, health secretary Matt Hancock has promised.

In a speech on the future of healthcare at the Royal College of Physicians last Thursday (30 July), Mr Hancock said while the NHS spent less on administration than other healthcare systems internationally, the pandemic showed it was possible to do more.

‘Rest assured, this bureaucracy will not be coming back. In fact, in the future, I want us to go even further.’

He said the pandemic had forced the NHS to decide which rules and processes were essential and which were getting in the way.

‘Sometimes it’s just an encrustation of decisions made over time, like the regulations which required thousands of pages of information from doctors who want to move here from Australia, which have been removed,’ he said.

He also gave the examples of advice on information governance on using secure messaging services like WhatsApp to share information with colleagues or patients where the benefits outweigh the risks.

‘And we made it easier to link the primary care records of millions to the latest data on coronavirus. Helping us to do the world’s largest analysis of coronavirus risk factors’, he added.

Consultation on workplace bureaucracy

His comments come as NHS and social care staff are being asked for their personal experience on dealing with overly burdensome or dysfunctional bureaucracy in their work.

A consultation launched by the Department of Health and Social Care has called for responses on how to embed some of the streamlined systems put in place as a response to Covid-19.

It follows a Government working group with the BMA and RCGP on ‘renewal and recovery’ in general practice set up to look at regulation and bureaucracy and feed into the bureaucracy review promised in the 2020/21 GP contract.

The consultation which is open until 13 September aims to build an up-to-date picture of the most common bureaucratic burdens experienced by those providing care as well as managerial and administrative staff, the DHSC said.

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