The Health Secretary has been urged to launch an urgent investigation into “truly shocking” reports that a cash-strapped health board used money from donations to fund general running costs.
NHS Tayside took more than £2 million from its endowment fund – which is made up of donations from the public or bequests in wills – to cover running costs, which would normally be funded from its core budget.
The health board – which was bailed out with a Scottish Government loan of £33.2 million in 2016-17 – was reported to have used the endowment fund when “faced with a funding deficit” in 2013-14.
It was further claimed that NHS Tayside had to temporarily suspend its constitution to allow this to happen, as the money was going to retrospectively fund projects which had already been approved by the board.
Professor John Connell, chairman of NHS Tayside, said the projects that were funded “were appropriate for endowment funding”. But he wanted “further assurance” about the retrospective element of the decision-making process, adding that this would be included in “the planned externally-led review of NHS Tayside’s financial governance announced last week”.
Opposition politicians called on Health Secretary Shona Robison, who represents the Dundee City East area at Holyrood, to get involved.
Labour health spokesman Anas Sarwar MSP said: “These are truly shocking claims that will stun the public in Tayside and beyond. That an NHS health board in the 21st century is having to effectively prop itself up with charitable donations given in good faith is simply outrageous.”