Shona Robison last night announced the Scottish Government is to lend more money to NHS Tayside to help it repay the endowment fund it plundered to finance a new IT system.
The Health Secretary said she had “authorised further brokerage” to NHS Tayside after new management at the health board decided to take the step.
Concern over how charitable donations, including bequests, are spent in the NHS arose when it emerged that NHS Tayside took £2.7 million from its charity pot to spend on routine costs.
The bulk of the cash – £2.3m – was spent on a IT system that should have been funded by the board’s core budget.
NHS Tayside has yet to quantify exactly how much will be repaid. New chairman John Brown and the new chief executive Malcolm Wright made the proposal. Mr Brown said the board believed it was “the right thing to do”.
Ms Robison said: “I have authorised further brokerage to NHS Tayside, subject to confirmation of the value, to allow this to happen.”
The move came as Ms Robison was facing calls for an independent national investigation into health boards’ use of endowment money as more questions were raised over NHS funding.
Pressure mounted on the Health Secretary as it emerged that £100,000 endowment cash was spent on plans for a “safe injection room” for drug addicts by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHS GGC), which was later blocked.
The project to give addicts a safe place to inject drugs saw £100,000 invested from its health board’s endowment fund, even though the initiative was later blocked. NHS GGC said it was an appropriate use of the fund.
In 2017, NHS Ayrshire and Arran moved £184,000 from its endowment fund into its core budget. But five years previously £800,000 had been moved in the opposite direction to fund research into hospital acquired infections.
NHS Highland said £1m was received by the fund-raising Archie Foundation to help redevelop the Raigmore Hospital children’s ward. The money was taken into the endowment fund then moved to the board’s budget to support the overall cost of the scheme which was considerably more than the Archie Foundation donation.
NHS Highland said the transfer of cash was in line with the endowment fund’s constitution.