Audit and Risk Committee Meeting Summary Note – 28 February 2012

The Audit and Risk Committee Meeting took place on 28 February 2012 in Meeting Room 1 in Richmond House and via video conferencing to Quarry House Leeds. Members discussed the visit to the Emergency Preparedness office, including their Crisis & Consequence Management Centre, the ALB performance and accountability work that had begun, Prescription Charges Fraud, Internal Audit work, and an update on Resource Account 2011/12.


Mike Wheeler, Chair, Non-Executive
Jane Ramsey, Non-Executive
Michael Hearty, Non-Executive

In attendance

Una O’Brien, Permanent Secretary
Richard Douglas, Director General, Policy, Strategy and Finance
Bronwyn Baker, Head of Internal Audit
Stephen Mitchell, Deputy Director, Head of Governance
Colin Wilcox, National Audit Office
Alastair MacLellan, Director of Group Finance
Cameron Robson*, Deputy Director of Group Finance
Alignment & Accounts Project Manager*
Paul Whitbourn, Head of ALB Transition Programme
Giles Denham, Director of Medicines, Pharmacy & Industry
Katy Peters, Head of Pricing, Prescriptions & Supply Team
Steve Phillips, Deputy Director, NHS Security Management


David Nicholson NHS Chief Executive
David Flory, Director General, NHS Finance, Performance & Operations


Stephen Waring, Deputy Director, DH Secretariat
Secretariat Team Member

* joined the meeting by VC


1 Introductions 

1.1 Mike Wheeler welcomed everyone to the meeting. 

2 Agenda

The meeting covered the following issues:

2.1 Visit:  The Audit Committee members had been on an interesting tour of the refurbished Emergency Preparedness Resilience and Response office, including their Crisis & Consequence Management Centre, which they had found impressive.

2.2 Minutes:  The minutes of 22 November were agreed, and no issues were raised for discussion.  Actions from 22 November meeting were confirmed as completed or in hand. 

2.3 ALB Performance & Accountability:  Paul Whitbourn said that this was a developing area of work, and welcomed the Committee’s views on the information they would find most useful in a regular report to the Committee; and whether the current statements of risks, and the assessment of the risks, were sufficiently robust. 

2.4 A new ALB Performance and Capability Unit was being established to provide support for ALBs and sponsors, and ensure a more consistent approach in its relationship with ALBs.  It would also enable effective working relationships between the Department and its ALBs, and between ALBs.   Following appointment to the remaining Director General posts, each ALB sponsor arrangement would be reviewed and assigned a sponsor at Director General level. 

2.5 Prescriptions Charges Fraud:  Giles Denham provided the Committee with an overview of the current state of affairs on patient prescription fraud in Primary Care.  Prescription charges fraud was low value, but high volume, and therefore any programme of action to reduce losses to patient prescription fraud needed to be able to demonstrate cost effectiveness. 

2.6 Katy Peters outlined to the Committee the actions being taken to reduce prescription charges fraud.  This included a change to the prescription form, using tools drawn from behavioural economics to discourage fraud; simplifying the language used in the form; being clearer on what the exemptions were, and about the penalties to be incurred should someone be caught claiming fraudulently.  Giles Denham would update the Committee in due course once the programme of actions had been rolled out.

2.7 Internal Audit:  Bronwyn Baker updated the Committee on the latest position on the Directorate Governance Reviews, the detail of which was included in the Internal Audit Report to the Committee.  The review had revealed some consistent themes, and on completion of the review process, Internal Audit would pull together an overarching report for Una O’Brien.

2.8 The Code of Business Conduct was in the process of being updated, and would include a new requirement for all staff to complete a return on the Declarations of Interest Database, including a nil return.

2.9 Risk Management:  The DH Strategic Risk Register was considered by the Committee.

2.10 Resource Account 2011/12:  Alastair MacLellan and Cameron Robson updated the Committee on progress of the Resource Account for 2011/12. 

2.11 Value for Money Study Programme 2012/13:  The Committee noted the seven items put forward for 2012-13.  Colin Wilcox said that this was an agreed programme of work but was happy to take back any questions or queries on the study programme.

2.12 DH Follow up of External Report Recommendations:  Stephen Mitchell confirmed that there were no issues about failure to address or implement external recommendations in the paper provided to the Committee

In Audit & Risk Committee Summary minutes, Boards and committees, Minutes

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