Book News: July 11th, 2001

The Report highlights the progress of the Commission in the many sectors in which it operates, from local government to health, housing, education, police and fire authorities.The Commision, through its Best Value Inspection Service, examines services to see how they measure up to requirements. It dealt with more than 500 plans, 74 per cent of which received an unqualified audit opinion. In the other cases auditors were concerned about the weaknesses in councils’ performance information systems and their arrangements for managing performance. The Commission recommends that authorities should integrate best value into their core systems and look again at their review programmes, which were not always imaginative enough to address the big issues or deliver significant improvements.

The Commission has published 160 Best Value reports, covering a range of individual services and cross-cutting service areas and found an enormous capacity for improvement. Many authorities are thought to be unlikely to improve unless more radical action is taken.

The NHS Plan has given the Commision new responsibilities in partnership with the Commission for Health Improvement and the Social Services Inspectorate, to inspect health authorities and trusts to assess their progress in implementing National Service Frameworks. It will produce a commentary on the performance of the NHS, at both the national and local levels. Inspections will start in 2003

The Commission is introducing independent external scrutiny of the completeness and accuracy of data collected in the NHS. Starting in 2001, auditors will review data collection systems and this will become a risk-based part of auditors’ work thereafter. Learning from this work, the Commission is planning to publish a management paper on data collection systems towards the end of 2001.

The report includes a table of performance indicators against which the Commission measures its own performance. It shows that 80 per cent of audited bodies in the NHS were satisfied with the auditing process, but only 75 per cent of local authorities.

Published by the Audit Commission:   <