Headlines: February 8th, 2000

The Cabinet Office has announced two new measures to drive up standards in the public sector.The first is an attempt by the Cabinet Office to encourage the take-up of the EFQM Excellence Model across the public sector.

The drive will be handled in partnership with the British Quality Foundation (BQF) and will attempt to spread more widely the improvements that have already been seen through its introduction in parts of the NHS. South Tees Acute Hospitals NHS Trust set up such a scheme to improve the numbers of emergency admissions assessed, treated and discharged within 24 hours. As a result, figures rose from 6.5 per cent of patients, to 30 per cent in the same period a year later.

The EFQM Excellence Model is the product of the European Foundation for Quality Management, founded in 1989 by the presidents of leading European industries. It was revised last year and is now more public sector-friendly.

The second initiative is the creation of a new UK Public Sector Benchmarking Office to encourage organisations to share knowledge and learn from the best. This will be a partnership between Cabinet Office and HM Customs and Excise, building on the latter’s experience of using benchmarking to improve quality and achieve savings. The VAT Central Unit at Customs and Excise saved 12m pounds in interest alone by improving the percentage of cheques it banks the same day from 31 per cent to 97 per cent.

The Cabinet Office has also re-named its Public Sector Benchmarking Project (whose team is responsible for policy on and promotion of the Excellence Model) to the Public Sector Excellence Programme.

A range of relevant publications on quality schemes are available from the newly-titled team on 0171 270 6311.