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Report cover showing social security worker

Getting it right, putting it right – Improving decision-making and appeals in social security benefits

“While more than 90 per cent of payments are accurate, more than a fifth of the Department of Work and Pensions thousands of decisions each day on benefits contain errors. Although the number represents less than one per cent of decisions, a quarter of a million people a year go to an appeal tribunal and 40 per cent of these cases are changed in favour of the customer. Customers are also having to wait too long for the outcome. The Department could not only reduce the number of cases where customers have to go through stressful appeals but also save money for the taxpayer, if they got more decisions right first time and put right errors effectively.

“The Department should make improving decision-making a priority in their ongoing programme of organisational change. By focusing more on good quality evidence and effective communication, and setting minimum service standards, they can help to ensure that customers across the country know what to expect from the system and have increased confidence in it.”

7 Nov 2003
Report cover showing medical team

The Management of Suspensions of Clinical Staff in NHS Hospital and Ambulance Trusts in England

“Where patient safety is considered to be at risk or there are allegations of misconduct, it is vitally important for NHS trusts to be able to exclude clinical staff from work or restrict their activities so that the situation can be thoroughly and promptly investigated. At present, however, there is evidence of many cases of exclusion being allowed to drift on without resolution or proper management. This represents a serious waste of resources for the NHS and can harm the career and even personal well-being of the accused clinicians themselves.

“The Department of Health should now take further steps to achieve a system for managing the exclusion of clinical staff in which both staff and patients can have confidence.”

6 Nov 2003
Report cover showing flood

The Department for International Development: Responding to Humanitarian Emergencies

“Disasters, both natural and man-made, are occurring much more frequently around the world. The Department for International Development is a leading player in the response to such emergencies and its provision of help in the aftermath of suddenly occurring disasters is widely recognised by other donors and organisations. The Department should, however, take steps to improve the targeting, monitoring and evaluation of the assistance it provides.”

5 Nov 2003
Report cover showing form filling

Difficult Forms: How government agencies interact with citizens

“Many citizens deal solely or chiefly with government by filling in paper forms. Departments need to think more about the design and use of the form from the point of view of the user with the aim of making it easier for all citizens to deal with Government. They should review their practices in the light of our recommendations and the practical guide on designing and reviewing forms to be separately published before the year end. This will not only make it easier to deal with Government but will also save a considerable amount of taxpayers money.”

31 Oct 2003
Cover of report

Ministry of Defence: Departmental Resource Accounts 2002-2003

“Although I have qualified my opinion on the Ministry of Defence’s 2002-03 Resource Accounts, this represents another significant improvement on the previous year. The MOD has successfully cleared one of the two substantive issues which were the basis for the qualification of my opinion on the 2001-02 Accounts and is progressing the remaining issue as fast as it can.”

30 Oct 2003
Report cover showing Colorado Beetle larvae eating potato leaves

Protecting England and Wales from plant pests and diseases

“The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has a key role to play in maintaining the high international reputation for plant health possessed by England and Wales. But increasing trade and travel, new farming practices and climate change increase the risk of new plant pests and diseases being introduced and spreading here. The Department should now take steps to improve its plant health inspection regime and research and how it works with others, to keep new and emerging threats at bay.”

23 Oct 2003
Report cover showing a doctor at work

Progress in improving the medical assessment of incapacity and disability benefits

“I am pleased that the measures taken since my last report have resulted in significant improvements, especially as this means a better service for customers, who include some of the most vulnerable members of society. It is crucial that assessments are undertaken fairly and efficiently, while ensuring that benefits are paid only to those genuinely entitled to them. I look to the Department to do more to improve the quality of evidence on which decisions are based and to tackle the problem of people failing to attend examinations.”

17 Oct 2003
Report cover showing patient care

Achieving Improvements through Clinical Governance: A Progress Report on Implementation by NHS Trusts

“Trusts have made good progress in the early stages of implementing the clinical governance programme. It is important, however, that they maintain the momentum that has been built up and overcome barriers in order to ensure that the National Health Service derives the intended benefits and, crucially, that patients see a clear improvement in their treatment and the quality of their healthcare.”

17 Sep 2003