NAO qualifies NHS Direct audit

Payroll problems at NHS Direct have caused a qualification in its accounts by
the National Audit Office.

NAO comptroller and auditor general Sir John Bourn stated that up to £1.6m in
payments ‘may not be accurate’, as the NHS organisation had struggled to deal
with managing its own payroll.

‘I have qualified my opinion on the account for 2004/2005 because I have been
unable to confirm that NHS Direct has maintained proper accounting records for
certain payroll costs, and that I have received all the information and
explanations I require for my audit,’ said Sir John.

He said the body had suffered ‘an absence of central management control’ due
to the disparate nature of its payroll system.

NHS Direct’s payroll was initially centrally managed by 22 NHS trusts, but
after it was recognised as a separate body on 1 April 2004 it began implementing
its own Oracle-based ledger, taking responsibility for purchase ledger and
payroll arrangements by the end of the financial year.

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