How much NHS Scotland money is going to ‘Quality Improvement Partners’?

Unfortunately this question cannot be answered as the information is not publicly available, this despite the fact that public money has been going to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement since 2007 and has since  become an “expanded partnership.”

I was copied into a FOI request (dated 24 July 2018) to Audit Scotland that sought to clarify how much public money was going to “Quality Improvement Partners” such as the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Boston, USA.

The first FOI question asked for:
“All the information that Audit Scotland holds relating to financial dealings and the total amount of money paid to the organisation the Institute for Healthcare Improvement since the inception of the first engagement of their services by the Scottish Government and the Scottish NHS up until the present day.”

This was the response:
We have reviewed our audit records for both the Scottish Government and NHS audits where Audit Scotland is the appointed auditor. We found we hold a small amount of financial information in connection with our routine audit work which has a description for the ‘Institute for Healthcare Improvement’ as the supplier. The audit information is for the Scottish NHS audits; we do not hold any financial information about the Institute for Healthcare Improvement from the Scottish Government audit.

We are withholding this audit information under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) section 33 (1b), the commercial interest and the economy exemption. The reason for withholding the information is due to an ongoing tendering process for the provision of a national strategic Quality Improvement (QI) partner. Following discussions with the organisations we audit we concluded that the release of the financial audit information to you and therefore into the public domain could seriously harm the tendering process and the ability of the public sector to achieve best value.

We have considered the public interest and whether on balance that it is in the public interest to withhold or release the information being requested. FOISA does not define the public interest. It has been described elsewhere as “something which is of serious concern and benefit to the public”, not merely something of individual interest. It has also been described as something that is “in the interest of the public”, not merely “of interest to the public.” In other words, it serves the interests of the public.

While the financial information may be of interest to you, we believe on balance that the public is best served by withholding the requested information and allowing the tendering process to continue and complete unhindered in order that best value can be achieved for the public purse.

The second FOI questions asked:
“Has Audit Scotland undertaken audits with regard to the organisation the Institute for Healthcare Improvement?”

This was the response:
I can confirm that Audit Scotland has not carried out any investigations/audits/reports on the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. Therefore, under section 17 of FOISA we do not hold copies of investigations/audit/reports on this organisation.

A few personal thoughts:

My understanding of the role of Audit Scotland is to safeguard, and make available to the public, all information relating to the spending of  public money.

I believe that the knowledge of the use of public money – and the specific amounts of those monies –  to pay for ‘Quality Improvement Partners’ in NHS Scotland is knowledge and information that should be openly available and is greatly in the public interest of the people of Scotland.




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