General Report on the Health and Social Care Sector 2003-04 and 2004-05

06 July 2007

General Report on the Health and Social Care Sector 2003-04 and 2004-05

John Dowdall, the Comptroller and Auditor General for Northern Ireland and Head of the Northern Ireland Audit Office, today reported the results of financial audit work in the Health Sector covering the 2003-04 and 2004-05 years.

Combined General Report on the Health Sector 2003-04 and 2004-05

The Comptroller and Auditor General has published a General Report arising out of his audit of the accounts of 29 Health and Personal Social Services bodies for the first two years after taking over responsibility for the audit. This covers 2003-04 and 2004-05 and it will be followed up later in the year with a report arising out of subsequent audits. The report covers the performance of Health Boards, Trusts and Agencies, indicating which bodies have met the various financial targets set down by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety. It notes the encouraging developments in governance in health bodies, but sets out where good governance has been compromised, for example clinical governance in Sperrin Lakeland Trust and financial management in the Central Services Agency, of which the accounts were disclaimed in both 2003-04 and 2004-05.

The C&AG also reports on developments in the investigation of fraud within the health services. All Health Board accounts were qualified in each year because of the level of fraudulent and incorrect claims by patients of exemption from having to pay prescription charges. However, the Department’s action to counter fraud has resulted in a decreasing level of fraud from this source, with losses of between £8.2 million and £10.3 million in 2004-05.

This report is available on the NIAO website: www.niauditoffice.gov.uk.