Audit & Risk Committee Summary Note – 22 November 2011

The Audit and Risk Committee Meeting took place on 22 November 2011 in Richmond House Boardroom with a Video link to Quarry House in Leeds.  The meeting covered Transition into the new system, outlining key issues around accountability and risk management, the Internal Audit process, the Strategic Risk register discussion, completion of Resource accounts for 2011/12 including Audit planning for 2011/12. 


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

In attendance

Una O’Brien, Permanent Secretary
David Nicholson, NHS Chief Executive
Richard Douglas Director General, Policy, Strategy and Finance
Bronwyn Baker, Head of Internal Audit
Stephen Mitchell, Deputy Director, Head of Governance
Omer Tauqir, Internal Audit
Alastair MacLellan*, Director of Group Finance
Helen Shirley-Quirk, Director of Health Protection
Colin Wilcox, National Audit Office
Lynda McMullan, National Audit Office
Locum APS, DH Permanent Secretary
Audit Manager (attending as observer)


Siobhan Benita
Secretariat Member

* joined the meeting by VC


1 Introductions

1.1 Mike Wheeler welcomed members to the meeting.

2 Agenda

The meeting covered the following issues:

2.1 Minutes:  the minutes of 20 September were agreed, and no issues were raised for discussion.  Actions from 20 September meeting were confirmed as completed or in hand. 

2.2 Transition to New System:  David Nicholson outlined to the Committee the key issues around accountability and risk management in transition to the new system.  The process of people moving from PCTs into the new organisations was being managed, and letters would be sent to all staff affected by the changes.  A number of controls were in place to ensure that key workers were not lost through voluntary redundancy.  Running costs had been agreed which would allow the CCGs to start planning and staffing posts.    

2.3 Internal Audit:  Bronwyn Baker updated the Committee on internal audit matters included in the Report for the Committee.  The proposed ‘Health Family Group Assurance Model’ for DH would give ALBs more accessible escalation routes and the assurance model would benefit from better information flows, which ALBs welcomed.  Mike Wheeler would also have regular meetings with Audit Committee Chairs which would fit around the accounts timetable, and would be hugely beneficial. 

2.4 Risk:  Mike Wheeler had met with Bronwyn Baker and Siobhan Benita to discuss how to improve the way risks were challenged, reviewed and then escalated for inclusion on the high level risk register, and on the back of this, work was underway to continue to improve risk management across the Department.

2.5 Cabinet Office Review of DH Emergency Preparedness Arrangements:  The CO Review had 18 recommendations.  Helen Shirley-Quirk confirmed that there was good collaborative working across the Department, ALBs and the NHS.  There was a standing pool of 50 volunteer reserve staff whom would be trained and available for any incident.  An important part of the team’s role was to build and maintain the list of volunteers and ensure they were properly trained and participated in the exercises.  Una O’Brien invited Committee members to visit the Emergency Preparedness Team in their suite in Richmond House at the next meeting on 28 February 2012.

2.6 Whole Government Accounts (WGA):  Colin Wilcox confirmed that the NAO audit of the 2010-11 WGA returns was nearly complete, and would be ready for signing within the next week or so.  In being tasked to improve the WGA, the evidence was that the Department had improved, and were in a much better position this year than last, although due to the late laying of the Resource Account, a bit later.  The Committee agreed that they were content to approve the WGA by correspondence.

2.7 Resource Account 2010/11:  The Committee had agreed to a review of the resource account process to understand what had gone wrong, and learn from the mistakes for next year’s account.  Mike Wheeler conducted a review and this was almost complete, and had been approached in a helpful and constructive manner by DH finance and the NAO.  Omer Tauqir reported on the DH Internal Audit’s review which was now complete and would come to the next Committee meeting.

2.8 Resource Account 2011/12:  Alastair MacLellan spoke to his papers on the Resource Account Planning and Timetable for 2011/12, and the ISA260 and risk update.  Alastair flagged to the Committee the areas of particular risk to the resource account timetable for next year.

2.9 Audit Planning 2011/12:  Colin Wilcox provided the Audit and Risk Committee with the draft Audit Planning Report for 2011/12.  Key risks had been agreed with the Department, together with early milestones which should give better information on the feasibility of accounts preparation to the proposed timetable. 

2.10 Value for Money Study Programme 2012/13:  Mike Wheeler welcomed Lynda McMullan to her first DH Audit and Risk Committee, and noted the provisional items put forward for 2012-13.  Stephen Mitchell confirmed that the study on the management of adult diabetes services in the NHS was already underway.  Lynda welcomed any additional ideas for studies from ARC members.

2.11 DH Accountability Statement:  Mike Wheeler acknowledged the difficulty in writing this complex statement.  ARC members would send their comments to Stephen Mitchell.

2.12 DH Follow-up of External Report Recommendations:  Stephen Mitchell updated Committee members on the follow-up of external report recommendations, and reported on two recommendations from external reports which had not been done.

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

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