Three new arm's-length bodies

December 2011–June 2012

Three new arm's-length bodies were established as special health authorities.

Health Research Authority

The Health Research Authority (HRA) was established in December 2011 to promote and protect the interests of patients and the public in health research, with responsibility for the UK-wide Research Governance Framework. The framework is a document outlining principles of good governance that apply to all research within the remit of the Secretary of State for Health.

The role of the HRA would be to ensure that patients and the public who participate in health research were protected, including ensuring research programmes were ethically reviewed and approved by the HRA. It also committed itself to increasing transparency of health research and public participation, as well as building an environment conducive to the development of good and effective research.

Health Education England

Health Education England was established in June 2012 with responsibility for taking a national lead in:

  • planning and developing the health care and public health workforce
  • establishing and supporting local education and training boards
  • promoting high standards of education and training.

NHS Trust Development Authority

A third new arm’s-length body, the NHS Trust Development Authority (NHS TDA) was established as a special health authority on 1 June 2012.

The NHS TDA was to be responsible for the oversight, development and support for the remaining NHS trusts in England from 1 April 2013. The NHS TDA was intended to be a time-limited body that would cease operating when the approximately 100 remaining NHS trusts had achieved foundation trust status.

However, the foundation trust pipeline had slowed to a trickle by this point, with many of the remaining NHS trusts unlikely ever to make foundation trust status in their existing configuration.

Later developments

The NHS TDA subsequently underwent an informal merger with Monitor, with the two organisations remaining legally separate but operating under shared leadership and the new name NHS Improvement.

Both the HRA and Health Education England were later established as permanent non-departmental public bodies via the Care Act 2014.


The National Health Service Trust Development Authority (establishment and constitution) Order 2012.

Department of Health.
The National Health Service Trust Development Authority directions 2013.
Department of Health; 2013.

NHS Health and Research Authority.
About us.
NHS Health Research Authority; 2019.

Department of Health.
The Health Education England directions 2012.
Department of Health; 2012.

NHS Health Education England.
NHS Health Education England; 2019.