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HSE defends Shannondoc despite audit criticism

DESPITE an independent auditor’s report claiming Shannondoc had not operated “a robust enough system of internal controls”, the HSE has defended the service and said it is in compliance with the terms under which it receives millions of euro each year.

Shannondoc is the out-of hours medical service to residents of the Mid-West. It significantly reduced services in Kilrush, Ennistymon and Killaloe in 2016. On Sunday, a protest march in Ennis at 3pm will highlight cuts to Shannondoc in Clare, along with seeking the restoration of a 24-hour Emergency Department in Ennis.

Shannondoc recently filed its accounts for 2017 and, in these, Neil W Mulcahy of Limerick- based MGM Accountants
wrote, “In our opinion, the company did not operate a robust enough system of internal controls during the period, leading to inadequate control over the purchasing and outsourcing functions”.

He added, “This lack of control meant that we were unable to conduct a proper audit of regularity within the purchasing function and the completeness of the disclosures of related party transactions. The directors did not have sufficiently close administrative oversight of transactions and, in particular, the regularity of purchasing and we were therefore obliged to rely on representations by senior executives.

This evidence is insufficiently independent for the purposes of our audit and there were no alternative procedures we could adopt to satisfy ourselves as to the regularity of the purchasing and outsourcing and the completeness of the disclosure on related party transactions.”

The accounts also show that Shannondoc was loss-making during the year in question, while it received more than €5 million in funding from the HSE.

Despite the concerns raised in the auditor’s report and the fact that the 2017 accounts were only filed in recent weeks, the HSE has said it is satisfied. “The HSE was aware of the delay in the closing of the 2017 Shannondoc audited accounts and were regularly appraised of all issues regarding same by the chair of the board and the Chief Executive Officer. The HSE is satisfied that the 2017 accounts have been closed in line with the requirements of the service arrangement [under which the HSE provides funding to Shannondoc].

“During 2018, Shannondoc implemented a new robust system of internal controls, in conjunction with HSE Internal Audit. Shannondoc are compliant with the controls and monitoring requirements of the service arrangement. The HSE have completed the service arrangement for 2019 for the continued provision of the out-of-hours service provided by Shannondoc.

“The HSE at all times remains responsive to any issue or information of concern regarding any agency to which we provide funding. We use both audited accounts, the service arrangements and detailed engagements to explore these concerns.”

Shannondoc also issued a statement to The Clare Champion defending its controls and governance. “Shannondoc has delivered a top-quality out-of hours GP medical service to patients in the Mid-West for the past number of years in keeping with all statutory requirements, including its service agreement with the HSE.

“We have a robust system of controls and governance in place and are operating fully in accordance with these. Our financial accounts are also entirely up to date.

“Shannondoc has, again for 2019, a service agreement in place with the HSE and looks forward to honouring that in full and delivering a premium service to patients across the Mid-West long into the future,” it stated.

 

Owen Ryan

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan
Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.