The NHS's accounts have received a clean bill of health for an unprecedented fifth year running, NHS finance director Colin Reeves was due to announce yesterday.

In a speech to the Healthcare Financial Management Association's annual conference, Mr Reeves was expected to say the NHS Executive had received the accounts of every health authority and trust and none had been qualified by auditors.

According to Mr Reeves, this shows corporate governance is 'working in the NHS' and provides a solid base for the launch of a new controls assurance package with 18 standards covering the financial, organisational and clinical aspects of health bodies' work.