HFMA response / Response to the National Audit Office's Code of audit practice consultation

08 March 2024 Lisa Robertson
1 CPD hour

The HFMA has responded to the National Audit Office consultation on proposed changes to the Code of audit practice, as part of a package of cross-system measures to clear the audit backlog and put the system on a sustainable footing.  

The consultation sets out a number of proposed changes. The key changes affecting NHS bodies are those made to chapter four, reporting the results of the auditor’s work as follows:

  • ‘For local NHS bodies, proposals are that auditors should aim to issue their auditor’s annual report no later than one month after the date on which they have issued their audit report. Where the auditor is unable to issue their audit report in accordance with the requirements set out in the NHS timetable, the auditor should consider whether it is in the public interest to issue their auditor's annual report to reflect the work completed to date.’ (paragraph 19)
  • ‘In order to encourage more timely reporting, the comptroller and auditor general proposes to remove the ‘special reporting provisions’ relating to value for money (VFM) arrangements work and again require auditors to report on significant weaknesses in arrangements by exception in the opinion on the financial statements. This means that where auditors have not been able to complete their work to satisfy themselves as to whether there are significant weaknesses in VFM arrangements, they will not be able to issue their opinion on the financial statements until they have completed their work.’ (Paragraph 21 and 22)

We welcome the joint approach to introduce a package of measures that reset, recover and reform local audit. Although most of the proposed changes in the consultation do not change the requirements for NHS bodies, changes included in chapter four do have implications for the NHS. The HFMA has responded to this consultation with a specific focus on areas of the consultation that will impact on NHS bodies.  

The HFMA has also responded separately to the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities consultation being run in parallel to this consultation, relating to changes to the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015.

In summary, the HFMA supports the proposed changes as part of the package of measures to address the local audit backlog in England.  

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