Report to blame health bosses

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The Independent Online
NICHOLAS TIMMINS

Public Policy Editor

A report dealing with "serious allegations against named individuals" in the former Yorkshire region of the National Health Service is to be published in full this week by the National Audit Office, it emerged yesterday.

The move follows an inquiry ordered by Alan Langlands, the NHS chief executive, after Sir John Bourn, the head of the NAO, qualified the region's accounts last year. He declared that relocation packages totalling pounds 450,000, provided to four senior managers - including the then regional general manager and his assistant - and to 13 consultants were irregular and outside the authority's powers. The deals involved helping to buy out the negative equity on individuals' homes.

The inquiry is, however, understood to have raised fresh issues in the region, unconnected to the relocation deals, including doubts about the way a land deal involving a former psychiatric hospital was handled, queries about excessive hospitality, and questions about a severance package for one manager. Inadequate records were available for some decisions.

When Sir John qualified the region's 1992-93 accounts in August last year, Mr Langlands made it clear that he wanted the issues fully explored, declaring that "health authorities must not exceed their powers" and that the "public rightly expects the highest standards of public accountability and probity in the NHS. Nothing less will do."

He has now passed the report he ordered - which the Department of Health said yesterday contains "serious allegations against named individuals" - to the NAO for publication with its own commentary next week. Mr Langlands is to be quizzed on it by the Commons Public Accounts Committee later this month.

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