As many as 38% of NHS bodies such as clinical commissioning groups (CGCs) and hospital trusts are failing to show that the money they spend is good value, according to a report by the Public Accounts Committee.
The public spending watchdog found that in 2017-2019 more than one in five local public bodies did not have proper arrangements in place to secure value for money for taxpayers.
Of these, NHS bodies such as clinical commissioning groups (CGCs) and hospital trusts had the worst numbers, with around 38% not having proper arrangements.
"Some local bodies are also not putting enough information in the public domain about their performance, including reports from their external auditors," the PAC said, adding: "As a committee committed to transparency we conclude that there is a need for a step change in transparency by local bodies. This is particularly the case for many NHS bodies".
Last year despite the NHS achieving an underspend of £1,183 million, CCGs together reported an overspend of £213 million, 0.3% of the £80,964 million available for locally commissioned services. The number of CCGs in deficit also grew from 57 in 2016/17 to 75 in 2017/18.
“Many CCGs are underperforming and this must improve as they take on responsibility for commissioning services across larger populations. It is vital that local bodies take auditors’ concerns seriously, address them swiftly and ensure meaningful information on performance is made accessible to the public," said PAC committee chair Meg Hillier.
“Our report sets out ways central government can help to drive improvements at local level and we urge it to respond positively to our recommendations.”
The watchdog has urged that departments should set out, by the end of September 2019, clear expectations of how CGCs should respond to weaknesses reported by local auditors in 2018-19, including the potential consequences for local bodies who fail to improve.