Letter: Counting on better standards of health

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The Independent Online
Sir: Tim Kelsey says ('Grocers are bad for health', 8 February) that the reputation of the NHS for sound ethical management has been hurt by the Wessex and West Midlands investigations.

I agree, and for that reason we worked hard with senior colleagues to develop the Code of Conduct and Code of Accountability to be introduced by the Secretary of State for Health from April.

These documents were welcomed both by the Audit Commission and by other major commentators in the health service, including the National Association for Health Authorities and Trusts, the Institute of Health Services Management and the NHS Trusts Federation.

From April, every NHS authority and Trust Board must appoint an audit committee run by the non-executive directors who will have a direct link to the external auditors appointed by the Audit Commission and will directly control the actions of the internal audit. Audit reports will not be brushed aside in future.

All NHS boards must appoint a remuneration and terms of service committee, run by the chairman and non-executive directors who will determine the total package of remuneration for senior managers and executive directors.

Recently, Virginia Bottomley announced that all NHS Trusts and health authorities will be required to publish an annual report including the directorships and their remuneration.

As head of an organisation spending pounds 100m every single day of the year, I am determined that the NHS will adopt the highest standards of probity, accountability and good management.

Nothing less than that is required.

Yours faithfully,

DUNCAN NICHOL

Chief Executive

NHS Management Executive

Leeds

8 February

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