BOSSES at a scandal-hit health board sought to use £6 million from its charity fund to cover general expenditure, it has emerged.
NHS Tayside chiefs are already under fire after the Herald revealed in April that they raided £2.7m from the endowment pot in 2014 to bankroll routine NHS projects, including new IT systems, after the health board ran out of money.
Read more: NHS Tayside axed own rules to use charity cash to pay for new IT
However, it has now emerged in evidence to MSPs that they initially requested a sum of £6m for the 2013/14 financial year and were granted £3.6m – although it remains unclear if or how the additional £900,000 was spent.
Christine McLaughlin, director of health finance for NHS Scotland, told the Scottish Parliament’s Public Audit Committee that it was possible the money had been used in the subsequent financial year, 2014/15, or could still be sitting in NHS Tayside exchequer – the funding pot for core NHS spending.
Ms McLaughlin said: “The total level of potential bids that year that went to the endowments committee at the beginning of this process was closer to £6m. The endowment committee made decisions on some things being appropriate and others not appropriate.
“What the accounts for the endowments show – there’s two figures – one is £3.6m of funds that were approved, and £2.7m that they believed was retrospective.”
Read more: NHS Tayside ‘misrepresented’ its accounts for six years
Ms McLaughlin said she expected a report, due to be submitted to Audit Scotland on Tuesday, to clarify the situation. She confirmed that the report would be made public later in May.
The Herald previously revealed that NHS Tayside had temporarily suspended its own constitution in 2014 in order to use charity cash to retrospectively cover the cost of various eHealth projects, including electronic booking systems, that the health board had previously agreed to fund from its core NHS budget.
It also emerged in evidence that NHS Tayside’s former chief executive, who oversaw the charity cash transfer in 2014, remains on her full CEO salary despite no longer having a job with the health board.
Read more: New NHS Tayside boss says £2.7m charity cash will be repaid after outcry
Paul Gray, chief executive of NHS Scotland, said that Ms McLay was signed off sick by her GP on the morning of Friday April 6 – less than 24 hours after she was told she was being stripped of her “accountable officer status” in the wake of the scandal – and that she could remain on paid sick leave for up to a year, prior to potentially receiving a severance package.
Mr Gray confirmed that losing this status meant she could no longer be chief executive, but stressed that she had not been dismissed and “remains an employee of NHS Tayside”.
However, asked by SNP MSP Alex Neil what her job is, Mr Gray said: “At the moment she doesn’t have a job, because she’s off sick.
“When she is able to return to work, then we will agree with her what her future employment status should be.”
Mr Gray confirmed that any disciplinary procedures could not commence until Ms McLay returned to work.
Health Secretary Shona Robison previously described Ms McLay’s position at the health board as “untenable” and she had been under pressure to resign prior to taking sick leave.
Mr Neil said: “Is it not one rule for chief executives and one rule for everybody else?”
Mr Gray said it was “the same employment contract” for everyone, adding: “It’s important that we go through a proper employment process with every employee.”
Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Miles Briggs said: “This a shocking waste of money for a health board which is utterly strapped for cash.
“It’s hard to see how anyone can justify this when money is so tight and the health board is performing so poorly.
“Patients and hardworking staff in Tayside will be absolutely furious at this situation.”
Source : HeraldScotland