§ The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos)
My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under—Secretary of State has made the following Ministerial Statement.
Stage two of the Quinquennial Review for the Northern Ireland Health and Social Services Estates Agency has been completed. The report has been made available in the House of Commons, the House of Lords and the Northern Ireland Assembly's Libraries and on the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety's website.
The conclusion of the stage one report, published on 4 June 2003, was that the Northern Ireland Health and Social Services Estates Agency should remain in being as an agency.
Stage two examined how the agency operated and looked at the potential for improving the agency's future performance. The consultants invited views from a range of respondents, including the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (NIPSA), HPSS boards trusts and agencies and departmental staff. Their report makes recommendations to improve the agency's effectiveness and efficiency.
The report's overall conclusion is that much has already been done to address areas for improvement identified in the stage one report. The report recommends, however, more: monitoring of compliance with policy standards; consultation engagement in formulating and monitoring standards; practically oriented advice to the department which can influence capital plans; early engagement with the department on estate—related policy issues with wider implications for capital planning; early involvement of the agency in the development and approval of capital plans and business cases; involvement in the development of policy which may have capital implications; communication and integration across all parts of the agency.
Implementation of the report recommendations will improve the effectiveness of the agency and will enhance the agency's ability to contribute to improvements in the quality of care to patients.