The Government yesterday made clear its intention to retain the authorities in a slimmed- down form despite calls from Tory right-wingers for their abolition to increase competition in the new health care market.
The 14 RHAs employ about 8,000 staff between them, according to Department of Health figures, and help regulate the market. They distribute NHS funds from the centre to the district health authorities and are responsible for holding the DHAs and the family health service authorities to account.
Virginia Bottomley, Secretary of State for Health, envisages scaling down the workforce to about 2,800. The Department of Health hopes to minimise the need for large-scale redundancy by redeployment and transfers.
Mrs Bottomley is expected to spell out details of the changes, and a timetable for implementation at a conference of NHS managers in London tomorrow.
Interviewed on BBC TV's On the Record yesterday, Mrs Bottomley said: 'We do need to ensure that decisions made by one purchaser do not have unforeseen consequences for another purchaser. There must a strategic overview.'
GP fundholders received pounds 20,000 on average in grants for new computers last year - four times the sum allocated to other GPs, according to a Labour Party survey