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Report cover showing a prisoner carrying a plate of food

Serving Time: Prisoner Diet and Exercise

“Prison catering has improved since we last examined it in 1997 and the Prison Service is more responsive to prisoner needs. The challenge now is for the Service to provide prisoners with food and opportunities to exercise which meet the government’s recommendations on healthy eating and exercise, whilst keeping costs firmly under control.”

9 Mar 2006
Report cover showing medication and a glass of water

The Management of Staff Sickness Absence in the National Probation Service

“Managing sickness absence more effectively will lead to better value for money in the Probation Service. Reducing current sickness absence rates of 12.3 days per person to the Service’s target of 9 days would save £11 million, equivalent to 66,420 working days or some 300 full time employees. Tackling the problem will require investment in better information, robust and proactive management, and consistent application locally of policies that have been agreed nationally, particularly to tackle stress and improve work/life balance. “

26 Apr 2006
Report cover showing a doctor checking a childs heartbeat with a Stethoscope

The Provision of Out-of-Hours Care in England

“The Department of Health is now on track towards providing high-quality out-of-hours services. I am glad to see signs that Primary Care Trusts are getting better at managing their providers.

“However, it is disappointing that there were so many problems in starting the new arrangements and I am concerned that so few providers are meeting their targets for the time it takes respond to patients. And the continuing confusion over whether out-of-hours is supposed to be an urgent or unscheduled care service should be dispelled without delay.”

5 May 2006
Report cover showing a model of The Paddington Health Campus scheme

Department of Health – The Paddington Health Campus scheme

“A hospital development of this scale and ambition was always going to be a challenge but the original business case was inadequate, the lack of a single sponsor was a fatal flaw and the final scheme was not deliverable. The cancellation of the Paddington scheme at a cost of £15 million has left patients, staff and visitors to the hospitals with outdated facilities.

“The Department of Health should draw on my report’s conclusions and recommendations when deciding how best to initiate and manage its £7 billion to 9 billion capital investment programme in order to provide value for money to taxpayers, patients and staff.”

19 May 2006
Report cover showing hospital with ambulances

Financial management in the NHS – NHS Summarised Accounts 2004-2005

‘There is no single cause of the deficits at NHS bodies and no single answer either. There are some systemic issues that have contributed to the deterioration in financial performance, but there are also local failings. The Commission is exploring this in more depth in two forthcoming reports – the review of the NHS financial management and accounting regime requested by the Secretary of State and Learning the Lessons from Financial Failure. Both of these reports will make recommendations to help put the NHS back onto a firmer financial footing.

‘One thing is clearer than ever: financial balance can only be achieved with commitment from finance staff, managers, clinicians and Board members. However the requirement for high quality, timely accounts must not be overlooked. There have been acknowledged weaknesses in the accounts of the NHS bodies and in 2004-05 there was evidence of inappropriate adjustments or omissions in more than a fifth of the accounts submitted for audit by NHS bodies. We have worked with NHS bodies, the Department of Health and NAO to address the weaknesses and hope to see an improvement in the quality of the 2005-06 accounts.’

Sir John Bourn, head of the NAO, said:

‘Many NHS bodies are managing their finances well, but it is worrying that a significant number are in deficit. All parts of the NHS and staff throughout the organisation must act together and take responsibility for improving financial management.

‘It is especially vital that financial control is not weakened as NHS bodies prepare for the impact of mergers and restructuring, as well as implementing Payment by Results and other national initiatives. It is also imperative that NHS bodies improve the quality of information underpinning both management and annual accounts. As well as supporting NHS Boards in informed decision-making, this will also allow local and national NHS accounts to be prepared, audited and published sooner.’

7 Jun 2006
Report cover showing a nurse at work

Improving the use of temporary nursing staff in NHS acute and foundation trusts

“Trusts have been successful at reducing expenditure on agency nursing staff but there is scope to obtain greater value for money by improving the procurement and management of all temporary nursing staff. It is very important that trusts further develop their understanding of their demand for all nursing staff as the ability to be able to manage the workforce effectively will play a major part in determining whether trusts remain in financial balance under Payment by Results.”

12 Jul 2006
Report cover

Public Health Laboratory Service Board Accounts 2004-2005

Sir John Bourn, head of the National Audit Office, reported to Parliament today that payments, amounting to £233,000, which the Public Health Laboratory Service Board made to certain members of staff in 2004-05 did not comply with Treasury guidelines. In the course of closing PHLS Media Services, the Board retained a small number of individuals … Read more

21 Jul 2006