Magazine article Public Finance

Watchdog Watch

Magazine article Public Finance

Watchdog Watch

Article excerpt

WHAT'S GOING ON IN THE WORLD OF REGULATION AND INSPECTION

Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission has criticised an Essex NHS trust for the continuing 'unacceptably high' risk of poor care at its two hospitals.

The health care regulator urged the Barking, Havering & Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trustto 'stop relying on others' to improve standards. The CQC found failings in maternity provision, accident and emergency care and radiology treatment at the two hospitals.

Its report made 73 recommendations for improvement, including two for the trust and 15 specifically on the maternity services.

The CQC will continue to monitor progress through unannounced inspections. A review next March will determine whether the response from the trust, NHS London and health care commissioners is leading to improvements.

Responding to the report, trust chief executive Averil Dongworth said that the findings were being taken 'extremely seriously'.

The CQC has also announced that it is to extend the work of its dignity and nutrition programme, which looks at how well older patients are being cared for. Inspections are set to take place at a further 50 hospitals and in 500 adult social care settings. The 50 hospitals will include those that raised concerns during the first round of inspections.

National Audit Office

The BBC is on track to meet its £487m efficiency savings target, the National Audit Office has concluded. It found that the broadcaster's efficiency programme was providing value for money and was in line to save 3% each year between 2008 and 2013, the goal set by its governing body, the BBC Trust. At the same time, it was 'broadly maintaining' overall performance levels.

But the auditors said the BBC was unable to demonstrate with certainty that all the savings made represented true efficiencies.

BBC trustee Anthony Fry said: 'The lessons learned to date, along with the NAO's suggestions for further improvement, will be invaluable as we implement the challenging programme of efficiencies.'

Young adults with special educational needs face a 'postcode Iottery when it comes to their education and training needs, the NAO has found. It also warned that parents, students and councils did not always have the information they needed to choose the most suitable school or college for each young person's needs. It added that local authorities did not always consider value for money when examining placement options.

Commenting on the findings, Public Accounts Committee chair Margaret Hodge said the number of 16-25 year olds with special needs who were out of work was 'extremely worrying5.

She called on the Department for Education to set out what it planned to do to improve participation rates.

The Legal Services Commission has had Its accounts qualified after legal aid overpayments of more than £50m were identified. Auditors found that the LSC spent £29.5m on cases where legal aid providers over-claimed for the work done and £21.2m on cases where claimants' eligibility for aid could not be demonstrated.

LSC chair Bill Callaghan said the commission would continue to 'concentrate on strengthening its financial management'.

Audit Scotland and Accounts Commission

Scottish auditors have declared themselves satisfied that the Strathclyde Partnership for Transport has tightened its internal financial controls following a major expenses scandal.

The SPT was hit by a string of resignations last year after it emerged that senior councillors and officials had claimed more than £100,000 in expenses between 2006 and 2009. Most notorious were claims for costs arising from a meeting in Manchesterthat coincided with the Rangers football team playing there in the 2008 UEFA Cup Final. …

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