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The Health Service

Most people make use of the NHS. Contact tends to be with the frontline hospital or GP services rather than the Health Authorities behind them. The Health Authorities are the monitoring and advisory bodies between the NHS and Central Government.

Internal Audit in the NHS

Most hospitals are now part of an NHS Trust or larger Primary Care Group and prefer to employ the services of an audit consortium or private company as an external provider rather than retain an in-house internal audit function. The original consortia were formed when a number of hospitals or trusts amalgamated their own audit functions but now they tend to bid for internal audit work across the NHS.

Internal audit in the health sector follows broadly similar lines in terms of approach and methodology to the rest of the public sector, the major difference being in the operations audited. Nowhere else in the sector will an internal auditor have to review a pathology department one week and a paediatrics department the next.

Internal Audit Recruitment in the NHS

Opportunities for both temporary and permanent employment in the NHS remain good as the audit service providers expand their businesses and client bases. For a long time, there has been a drain of experienced and qualified staff which has created good opportunities for entry-level positions and promotion prospects at Senior and Principal Auditor level. The move to shared services is likely to lead to fewer but larger audit providers. At the same time, it is probable that these providers will develop more diverse services and, therefore, more staff with particular specialisations in, for example, IT and internet-based technologies.

Beyond modernisation and the introduction of Best Value, within the NHS there have been large-scale organisational changes with the introduction of Trust status and the amalgamation of care providers into Primary Care Groups. These larger units have advantages in terms of purchasing or commissioning power. They are creating new challenges and opportunities for those who provide their internal audit service.