§ Mr. Blunkett
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she is taking to reorganise regional health authorities; what is the timetable for reorganisation; and if she will make a statement.
§ Dr. Mawhinney
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced in a speech to the National Association of Health Authorities and Trusts on 23 February, a copy of which is available in the Library, that regional health authorities would continue to form part of the National Health Service's organisational arrangements until all providers are trusts and the NHS reforms have been fully implemented. RHAs will continue to be responsible for delivering NHS objectives in their region. They will manage purchasers and concentrate on the development of effective purchasing. They will maintain strategic oversight in their region to ensure that a comprehensive range of NHS services remains available.
RHAs must embrace change so that they can work more easily with the grain of the NHS reforms. We have advised RHAs that typically they should employ a maximum of 200 people.
There will be a review of the functions and manpower of the present intermediate tier of NHS management and its interrelationships with the NHS management executive. Substantial progress will be made by the review by the summer.
The timetable for change will depend on RHAs own plans for slimming down, some of which are well developed, and on the conclusions reached by the review.