Auditor points to flaws in Department financial controls

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) finally published their annual report and accounts for 2021-22 at the end of January – but were rapped over the knuckles for their content.

Gareth Davies, the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) and head of the National Audit Office (NAO), issued a “qualified audit opinion” on the accounts, not least because of the handling of the affairs of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) which was established as a DHSC agency in April 2021 and became fully operational from October 2021. 

The UKSHA was the body set up to replace Public Health England, and now responsible for England-wide public health protection and infectious disease capability. Its Chief Executive is Dame Jenny Harries. From the outset it was “heavily reliant on temporary staff, including in key senior roles, and experienced high levels of staff turnover.”

However there was also a lack of clear governance, oversight and control, with no Board or Audit and Risk Assurance Committee in place. Indeed the Advisory Board and Audit and Risk Committee did not meet formally until last summer, and in the view of the C&AG “This lack of formal governance arrangements exposed UKHSA to a high level of risk, with no clear oversight structure in place for its first six months of operation.”

Full story in The Lowdown, 6 February 2023

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