Health board denies boss received £300k payoff

Lesley McLay and Sandy Watson.
Lesley McLay and Sandy Watson.
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A beleaguered health board has denied its former chief executive received a £300,000 “golden handshake”.

Lesley McLay left NHS Tayside last week after going on sick leave in April – the day after being told she could no longer continue in her role.

She was heavily criticised after it emerged the health board had used charity money to help fund routine services.

Dundee MSP Jenny Marra said she believed the former chief executive had received a pay-off of more than £300,000, but a spokeswoman for the health board said it was “categorically untrue” that Ms McLay had received any money other than that she was contractually entitled to.

Earlier this year it emerged NHS Tayside transferred £2.7 million from its endowment fund into core expenditure. More than £2m was spent on an IT system.

A new chairman and chief executive were appointed to run NHS Tayside after the health board was put in “special measures” by the Scottish Government.

Ms Marra said any severance deal for Ms McLay raised questions for the government, which she said would be required to sign off on the deal.

She said: “I think it’s a huge sum to be awarded to a chief executive who presided over financial chaos. The Scottish Parliament’s audit committee was very clear in its view that severance payments would be unacceptable in these circumstances.

“This is taxpayer’s money and it’s been awarded to someone whose performance was woefully lacking for a number of years. It’s a slap in the face for the public and for NHS Tayside staff.”

She added: “I want to know who signed this off at Scottish Government level and why they decided to do so. NHS Tayside has not been at all transparent about this. If this contract – for whatever sum – is not yet complete, then I would expect the Scottish Government to step in and make sure this award is not made.”

Lib Dem health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “Such a sum of money would be enough to pay 10 nurses for a year.

“Allegations of financial mismanagement were what triggered changes at the top of NHS Tayside. If a payout of this scale was given we need to know how this came about and who at the top of the NHS approved it.”

A spokeswoman for NHS Tayside denied Ms McLay had received severance pay totalling more than £300,000.

She said: “The claims made about any sum of money received by Ms McLay are categorically untrue. As with any NHS Tayside employee, Ms McLay received what she was contractually entitled to and nothing more upon leaving the organisation.”

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