Audit watchdog raises concerns about NHS financial resilience

30 Jul 15

The number of NHS trusts being reported to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt by auditors due to financial stress increased by more than 50% based on 2014/15 accounts, it has been revealed.

In its first report on the work of auditors in the NHS, Public Sector Audit Appointments (PSAA) said today just over half of the 99 NHS trusts in England received a qualified conclusion on their value for money arrangements in 2014/15. These include hospital trusts, as well as those covering ambulance services, community health and 15 mental health provision. This was up from a third for 2013/14, with the increase being due to increased concerns over financial resilience.

In addition, auditors referred 29 trusts to the Department of Health following concerns over financial issues, up from 19 in 2013/14, the Report on the results of auditors’ work 2014/15: NHS bodies stated.

This is the second consecutive year that the number of trusts being reported to Hunt has increased, and financial resilience of trusts remains a significant concern, PSAA stated. The report does not cover the results of auditors’ work at foundation trusts, as they appoint their own auditors overseen by health service regulator Monitor.

For the 211 clinical commissioning groups in England, the number of reports related to financial issues remained similar to the previous year. Auditors qualified the regularity opinion at 10% of CCGs, issued a qualified conclusion on value for money arrangements to 15%, and referred 11% to the DoH.

Following the closure of the Audit Commission on 31 March, the PSAA –established by the Local Government Association – became responsible for appointing auditors to local NHS bodies and for overseeing the delivery of consistent, high-quality and effective external audit services.

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