Northwest Territories Health Programs and Services—Department of Health and Social Services

Department needs more information to assess the impact of its investment in the health care system

Yellowknife, 1 March 2011—The Department of Health and Social Services is adequately managing health programs and services to residents, but it needs more information to determine whether the health of the population is getting better as a result, says Sheila Fraser, the Auditor General of Canada, in her Report delivered today to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.

“The Department and the Health and Social Services Authorities that deliver health programs in communities need to improve their collaboration,” said Ms. Fraser. “This includes having better information on how the Authorities use the funds provided by the Department and what results are achieved.”

The audit found that the Department has identified health priorities and actions but it needs to improve its monitoring of programs delivered by the Authorities—for example, it lacks information to determine whether health outcomes of diabetes patients are improving, and current standards for home care and long-term care are too broad for monitoring. Without a common basis for monitoring program delivery, the Department cannot ensure that it provides integrated and effective health services. In addition, common performance standards would allow the Department to monitor and report on the performance of the health care system as a whole.

The audit also found that the Department has taken action to improve the Medical Travel Assistance program and is working on alternative ways to recruit doctors and nurses.

“The Department has set a clear direction to improve the system by identifying health priorities and actions in its strategic plan,” said Ms. Fraser. “But it needs to follow through with regional Authorities in order to achieve its priorities and sustain improvements in the long term.”

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The Report, “Northwest Territories Health Programs and Services” is available on the Office of the Auditor General of Canada website.

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