Northern Ireland

Northern Health Trust faces contract procurement probe

edwin poots
Image caption Mr Poots said anyone with information about the abuse of public money should come forward

Investigations are under way to examine if almost £1m of potentially irregular payments were made by the Northern Health Trust.

Health Minister Edwin Poots said it concerned procurement issues.

Following whistle-blowing allegations, a probe is examining how certain building contracts were obtained within the trust.

It is focusing specifically on the management of contracts within buildings and other managerial issues.

In a statement to the assembly, Mr Poots said while a report has yet to be finalised, an external audit has identified around £860,000 worth of payments which could be potentially irregular.

"It is apparent that there are a number of procurement control weaknesses in the trust's estates function and investigations are still ongoing," he said.

"In this respect, external audit, as part of their audit on the 2012/13 annual accounts, have identified £860,000 of payments in respect of measured day term contracts, which may be potentially irregular due to procurement issues."

As a result, compliance checks are to be carried out in the remaining health trusts.

To restore public confidence, the minister said anyone who has information about the abuse of public money should come forward.