HSE internal audits July-December 2015 - Abuse centres: Risk of non-compliance at facilities

Rathmines Women's Refuge Centre, Dublin.

Audits of Dublin-based centres for abused women, people affected by drug use, and young people have found “significant risks of non-compliance” with standard practice at three facilities.

The HSE Audits released to the Irish Examiner under the Freedom of Information Act, highlighted issues at Rathmines Women’s Refuge, Ballyfermot Star, and Ballyfermot Youth Services.

Some of the issues, not common to all centres, included the absence of proper receipting, data protection issues, problematic financial controls, and Garda vetting concerns.

Auditors found the balance on Ballyfermot Youth Service’s credit card, exclusively used by a manager, is cleared in full by automatic direct debit on a monthly basis, a transaction that is not authorised by a board member, and the credit card statement is not reviewed.

“There is a risk of unauthorised expenditure where there is no segregation between person making the expenditure and person authorising the transactions,” auditors warned, adding in three months of credit card bills selected for review, €6,386.67 was spent, but there were no receipts for €447.53.

“There is a risk that unvouched expenditure is taking place, leading to potential mis-appropriation of funds,” the report stated.

However, there was no suggestion in the report anything improper took place.

The report on Rathmines Women’s Refuge found staff were authorising and approving their own leave, and “unnecessary large quantities of provisions” were being ordered for the centre.

It also expressed concern the centre did not actively pursue unpaid rent from clients. It also found there was an “inability to confirm that all donations received by Rathmines Women’s Refuge are fully receipted controlled and expended in accordance with the wishes of the donors”.

Auditors also found clients’ data was stored on second-hand computers that were not encrypted, and an unencrypted USB key was used to transfer clients’ data between computers.

The audit revealed the HSE had been paying the bill for a phone it had provided for an assistant manager at the centre until 2014, despite the staff member not using the phone since 2012 as it was broken. The staff member used her own phone, while the HSE paid €637.80 for a phone not in use.

It also found there was a “lack of clarity in the terms and conditions of employment for staff”.

The report on Ballyfermot Star, which provides support to drug users, stated “while staff of the childcare facility are Garda vetted, no Garda vetting has been undertaken for the remaining staff of Ballyfermot Star or any contractors.”

Auditors warned of “an increased risk of misappropriation of assets” because there is no Fixed Asset Register maintained by the organisation, and that there is “a risk of financial statements being misleading to a reader of financial statements” because of an understatement of accruals balance and an unexplained restatement of some creditors’ balances.


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