News Article

A Question of Balance - Independent Assurance of Information Governance Returns  (11/08/2010)

Gateway Reference: 14988

The NHS Operating Framework 2010/2011, through the NHS Informatics Planning Guidance Annex 1 (National Expectations) stated that: "An IG audit utilising the centrally provided audit methodology should be included within the work plans of each organisations' auditors”.

To ensure a common approach to such an audit across the NHS, the Informatics Directorate of the Department of Health commissioned an internal audit assurance framework for IGT self-assessments. The Department asked the Audit Commission to lead on the development, supported by Mersey Internal Audit Agency and South Coast Audit & Consultancy Services. The framework applies to the following organisations:

  • Primary Care trusts
  • Acute trusts
  • Foundation trusts
  • Mental Health trusts
  • Ambulance trusts
  • Strategic Health Authorities.

It can however be adapted for audit of non-NHS organisations such as Commercial Third Parties and NHS Business Partners. In light of the recent White Paper, it is anticipated that discussions will be held as to the utilisation of the framework for and by GP commissioning bodies.

The internal audit framework comprises:

  • A series of audit requirements (PDF 414Kb): (matched to the Toolkit requirements), these note the assurance required and the potential sources of evidence across three levels of compliance. They also contain mapping to other parts of the audit framework.
  • Evidence review guides (PDF 93Kb): these are generic guides that cover common evidence items such as minutes, strategies, policies, intranet content and job descriptions and are there to support the auditor in reviewing these types of evidence.
  • The questions for a staff survey (PDF 54Kb):  designed to provide a perspective on the evidence from document review and interviews. The survey should take no longer than 15 minutes to complete.

The framework is supported by:

  • A summary of the guidance (PDF 495Kb):  with forewords by Giles Wilmore, Director of Policy & Planning, Informatics Directorate, Department of Health and Andy McKeon, Managing Director for Health, Audit Commission.
  • A guide for internal auditors (PDF 827Kb): a comprehensive guide that includes information on the internal audit framework, the purpose and scope of the audit and the IG Toolkit. The appendices include example terms of reference for the audit and a worked example of the audit process.

These documents have also been published on the Department of Health website.

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