Scottish Conservative MSPs Liz Smith and Murdo Fraser have expressed concerns over an “alarming” report on NHS Tayside by Audit Scotland, which highlighted that the health body still faces substantial long-term financial and operational challenges.
The Scottish Conservative politicians, who both represent the Mid Scotland and Fife region, were reacting to the release of 2018/19 audit of NHS Tayside – a report that underlined the health board has still not got on top of its financial problems. Among the many findings of Audit Scotland are that NHS Tayside’s financial position has been ‘unsustainable’ since 2013/14. The report states: ‘Brokerage has been required in each of the last seven financial years from the Scottish Government to achieve in-year financial balance.’
Commenting on the report, Liz Smith said: “This report by Audit Scotland highlights some very alarming financial problems in NHS Tayside. Their problems are well documented but it seems NHS Tayside have not got to grips with dealing with them.
“Audit Scotland has said that while NHS Tayside has plans in place to break even by 2021/22, it still faces ‘significant’ financial challenges. The Auditor General for Scotland also noted in the report that the board of NHS Tayside failed to meet the majority of its national service targets in 2018/19.
“The Auditor pointed to effective leadership being critical to delivering the transformation required but reported concerns that several key vacancies are still to be filled. It is very concerning to hear the Auditor say that the last five reports on NHS Tayside highlighted a series of ‘significant’ concerns, covering financial performance and governance issues.
“It is all very well for NHS Tayside to claim this report has confirmed improvements in financial management, but the true picture tells a different story. It shows that NHS Tayside’s financial position has been unsustainable since 2013/14 and this is alarming.”
And Mr Fraser added: “This Audit Scotland just emphasises what a financial mess NHS Tayside are in. The report states that the health board has received brokerage from the Scottish Government in each of the last seven financial years.
“NHS Tayside received £17.6 million brokerage during 2018/18 and has received a total of £67.8 million of brokerage since 2012/13, of which £4.3 million has been repaid.
“I find the Audit Scotland report quite shocking as it also draws attention to the fact that NHS Tayside was moved to the Scottish Government’s Level 5 escalation in April 2018 – the highest level, and also underlines how NHS Tayside continues to have an ‘expensive’ operating model.
“I hope NHS Tayside take all these findings on board and act on them.”