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NHS account audit indicates significant financial stress

28 July 2014

NHS accounts audit for the year 2013/14 conducted by the Audit Commission indicates significant financial stress.

According to the Audit Commission, this year saw a three-fold increase in the number of NHS trusts being referred to the Secretary of State for Health when compared with the previous year. A total of 20 NHS trusts (20%) were referred to the Secretary of State for Health, due to financial issues compared with only five NHS trusts for 2012/13. In addition, 24 Clinical Commissioning Groups (11%) were also referred.

Marcine Waterman, Controller of Audit concludes: ‘This year auditors are reporting concerns about the financial resilience of a third of NHS trusts compared with a quarter last year.

‘This level of reporting is worrying and reflects the increasing risks to the financial sustainability of individual NHS trusts, as they continue to face sizeable financial pressures due to a rising demand for services and the necessary focus on quality of care, whilst balancing the need for continued cost savings.’

However, on the whole, according to a report by the Audit Commission - Auditing the Accounts 2013/14: NHS Bodies – the timeliness and quality of NHS trusts’ financial reporting improved for 2013/14. The report covers: the timeliness and quality of accounts; arrangements to secure value for money; and auditors’ use of their statutory reporting powers.

Waterman said: ‘NHS bodies closed their accounts and reported their final position to a tight deadline with no qualified true and fair opinions issued. Despite auditors reporting some issues with the quality of financial reporting at Clinical Commissioning Groups, these new bodies generally performed well for their first year.’

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