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Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) at what point and by whom it is determined in relation to any NHS body that a public interest report needs to be (a) compiled, (b) issued and (c) published; 
(3) which NHS bodies have had relevant public interest reports issued in the current financial year 200506 and in relation to which NHS bodies consideration is being given to the issuance of a public interest report in 200607. 
[holding answer 18 April 2006]: Auditors appointed by the Audit Commission to audit the accounts of national health service bodies have the
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discretionary power under section 8 of the Audit Commission Act 1998 to issue a report in the public interest.
Section 8 of the Act requires auditors in auditing the accounts to consider whether, in the public interest, they should report on any matter coming to their notice in the course of the audit, in order for it to be considered by the body concerned or brought to the attention of the public. The auditor can issue an immediate report if the public interest requires it, or can issue a report at the conclusion of the audit.
The Audit Commission issued revised guidance in 2004 to auditors on the circumstances when a Public Interest Reports (PIR) might be issued. The guidance requires auditors to consult on the draft report with the body, other local stakeholders (including the strategic health authority (SHA)), and any other interested parties. The Department is also given the opportunity to comment on the draft report. However, the decisions as to whether a public interest report should be issued, what it should say and when it should be issued, are made by the auditor.
|SHA||Number of PIRs issued|
|Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire||1|
|Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire||1|
|Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire||1|
|North West London||1|
|Surrey and Sussex||1|
|Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire||4|
|Birmingham and the Black Country||1|
|Cheshire and Merseyside||1|
|County Durham and Tees Valley||2|
|Hampshire and the Isle of Wight||3|
|Kent and Medway||1|
|Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire||3|
|North and East Yorkshire and Northern|
|North West London||4|
|Shropshire and Staffordshire||1|
|South East London||1|
|Surrey and Sussex||2|
Caroline Flint: Strategic health authorities (SHAs) are responsible for managing the financial position for their local health communities, which includes assessing the reasons for organisations incurring deficits. SHAs are charged with ensuring that every organisation achieves financial balance.
The first stage of this is a baseline assessment, the aim of which is to ensure there is an agreed understanding of the local financial problem and that actions are in hand to address this. In this assessment, Royal West Sussex NHS trust was rated as needing urgent intervention to drive turnaround. In conjunction with the SHA, the team is agreeing a tailored package of turnaround support with the organisation.
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Paul Farrelly: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what the estimated cost is in the financial year ended 31 March (a) 2006 and (b) 2007 of the employment of turnaround teams and external accountancy and management advice for the 18 NHS trusts named in her announcement of 25 January 2006; 
(2) what proportion of the estimated costs of the turnaround teams in the NHS in North Staffordshire will be borne by (a) the Department, (b) the Shropshire and Staffordshire strategic health authority and (c) the relevant NHS trusts; 
The first stage of this is a baseline assessment, the aim of which is to ensure there is an agreed understanding of the local financial problem and that actions are in hand to address this. University Hospitals of North Staffordshire NHS Trust, North Stoke primary care trust and Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust were included in the assessment. This was funded by the Department.
Following the assessment, the local NHS will identify the actions needed to return the organisations to financial balance and what tailored support is needed to support local management. The strategic health authority (SHA) provides advice and support to the procurement of support for the most challenged organisations, including University Hospitals of North Staffordshire NHS Trust and Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust. The costs of these are met locally but for each organisation, the Department has provided funding equivalent to the first three months of a turnaround director.