Only three NHS finance staff have been referred to their professional body over breaches of its code in the past six years, HSJ can reveal.
The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy has 14,000 members working across the public sector.
In the past six financial years 17 people have been taken through the disciplinary committee process and one asked for an appeal. Only three were working in the NHS. Eight were from local government and another six worked for government agencies, housing associations of were self-employed.
The process can lead to “no further action”, through to suspension and expulsion from the organisation. Seven members were expelled since the beginning of 2011-12, four reprimands were issued and three suspensions.
CIPFA declined to release details of any of the NHS cases. However, it publishes summaries since the beginning of 2016 on its website.
It said that of the total 17 referrals, five were made by employers, three by another part of CIPFA, two were self-reports, two came from members of the public, one came from another regulator and four “were matters that came to CIPFA’s attention through public interest reports”.
The news comes in the wake of the report into financial mismanagement at Gloucestershire Hospitals Foundation Trust. The trust has refused to release Deloitte’s full report into how the trust came to report surpluses for two financial years, when it was in fact running deficits.
A two-page extract of the consultancy’s report into what went wrong put the blame on the former chief executive, finance director, chair and head of the finance and performance committee.
HSJ asked the trust whether anyone had been referred to CIPFA over the matter and it said in a statement: “As with any clinical member of staff, the board was obligated to consider whether there was any evidence in the Deloitte report that indicated there maybe Fitness To Practice concerns for any individual cited in the report. Where a referral was warranted, it has been made.” The trust said it would give no further detail “for reasons of confidentiality”.
Gloucestershire Hospitals Foundation Trust, which has a new chief executive and chair in Deborah Lee and Peter Lachecki, said releasing the whole report would have a “potential impact on individuals”.
“The board has also had regards for the requirements on the Data Protection Act and the rights of data subjects under this act and the risks of legal challenge associated with the different approaches to publication. The full report has been provided to our regulator who is assured that the abridged report does not omit any matters that are relevant to the interests of third parties.”
A spokesman for Grant Thornton, which audited the trust in 2014-15 and 2015-16, defended the firm.
In a statement he said: “Grant Thornton’s audit work for the trust was both rigorous and undertaken in accordance with all statutory requirements and regulatory guidance. Our annual audit letter includes details of a number of issues and risk areas raised with the trust as part of the audit of the 2015-16 accounts, along with suggested recommendations for improvement.”
St George’s University Hospital Foundation Trust refused to release a report from auditors into its sudden financial collapse in 2015.