A number of Department of Health policies may have been implemented without adequate assessment of their need or likely impact, the government’s spending watchdog has found.

A National Audit Office report looked at 50 randomly selected impact assessments from across government in 2008-09. It rated both DH assessments it examined as red, meaning there may not be sufficient evidence that the right conclusion was reached.

The assessments related to proposed changes to the governing structures of regulatory bodies for healthcare professionals and changes to the Nursing and Midwifery Council to make it more accountable.

The assessments were two of nine marked as red across government. More than half the total had weaknesses, with only 28 per cent fully meeting reasonable standards.

The NAO looked at the quality of impact assessments against factors including the number of policy options considered, how each option was appraised and whether the costs and benefits were quantified.

It found the proposed changes to healthcare regulatory bodies received limited analysis and there was no clear breakdown of costs for the favoured option. For the Nursing and Midwifery Council it found only one option had been presented.