NSW Auditor-General's Report on Health 2017


The NSW Audit Office has released its annual report on the results of the financial audits of entities in the NSW health cluster for the year ended 30 June 2017

The Audit Office conducts financial audits of State public sector agencies’ financial statements to ensure there is sound financial management. The reports may comment on financial prudence, probity and waste, and recommend operational improvements. They also examine whether an agency is carrying out its activities effectively and doing so economically and efficiently and in compliance with relevant laws.

The report is structured into two chapters focusing on financial reporting and controls and service delivery.

The Executive summary is reproduced below

1.         Financial reporting and controls

Financial reporting - all health cluster entities received unqualified audit opinions and the quality of financial reporting remains high across the cluster. Early close procedures were largely completed and all financial statements were submitted by the deadlines.

Financial performance - overall, NSW Health recorded an operating surplus of $407 million in 2016–17. Eleven local health districts/specialty networks recorded operating deficits in 2016–17, four more than 2015–16. Expenses across NSW Health increased by 4.4 per cent in 2016–17 (6.0 per cent in 2015–16), lower than the expected long term annual expense growth rate.

Excessive annual leave - managing excess annual leave is a continual challenge for NSW Health, with thirty–five per cent of the workforce having excessive balances.

Overtime payments - NSW Health entities are generally managing overtime well; however, NSW Ambulance’s overtime payments, $74.6 million in 2016–17, remain significantly higher than other health entities.

Time and leave recording practices - unapproved employee timesheets continue to be a problem for health entities. Weak timesheet approval controls increase the risk of staff claiming and being paid for hours they have not worked. There is also an increased risk of high volumes of roster adjustments, manual pays, salary overpayments and leave not being recorded accurately.

2.         Service delivery

Service agreements - most of the service agreements between the Secretary of NSW Health and health entities were signed earlier than prior years.

Performance monitoring - five NSW Health entities are not meeting the Ministry of Health’s performance expectations at 30 June 2017.

Emergency department performance - data provided by the Ministry indicates NSW Health again, on average, met emergency department triage response time targets across all triage categories for the fourth consecutive year.

Ambulance response times - data provided by the Ministry shows NSW Ambulance response times for imminently life-threatening incidents of 7.5 minutes in 2016–17 was within the Ministry’s target of 10 minutes. Data provided by the Ministry indicates NSW Ambulance response times for potentially life-threatening incidents did not improve in 2016–17. The median response time of 11.1 minutes in 2016–17 was similar to 2015–16 (11 minutes). This is despite the number of Priority 1 responses reducing by 4.3 per cent.

Unplanned hospital re admissions - data provided by the Ministry shows eight local health districts achieved the Ministry of Health’s unplanned hospital re admissions target in 2016–17. The target is for local health districts to reduce re admission rates from the previous financial year.
Please click here to access a PDF copy of the full Report. 

The NSW Audit Office’s Media Release can be downloaded by clicking here.