NHS Tayside will repay £2.7m of charity funds spent on IT systems

The new chairman, John Brown, says giving the money back to Tayside Health Fund is the right thing to do

Ninewells Hospital: part of NHS Tayside
Ninewells Hospital: part of NHS Tayside

The new chairman of NHS Tayside has said £2.7m of charity funds spent on new IT systems will be repaid.

The chair and chief executive of the Scottish health board resigned last week after it was revealed the organisation used money from the charity Tayside Health Fund to pay for an electronic referral system for GPs.

This use of charitable funds intended for non-essential services such as children's toys prompted an outcry, with the Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson saying the fund had been raided and Anas Sarwar, the Labour MSP for Glasgow, saying "heads should roll".

Professor John Connell, chair of NHS Tayside, stepped down after being urged to do so by Shona Robison, the Scottish health secretary. Shortly afterwards chief executive Lesley McLay also departed.

Paul Gray, chief executive of NHS Scotland, said "a change of leadership was needed within NHS Tayside to maintain public confidence".

At an extraordinary meeting yesterday, NHS Tayside's board agreed to repay the money.

John Brown, the new chairman, said: "For our staff and our patients, we believe this is the right thing to do.

"It does mean that we can move forward, start to rebuild confidence and ensure there are no distractions to continuing to do what we do best, which is making sure everyone in Tayside receives high-quality and effective care and treatment."

Brown said the decision "doesn’t pre-empt the findings of the formal inquiry" into Tayside Health Fund, opened last week by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator.

An OSCR spokesman said: "This relates to the decision by the fund's charity trustees in 2014 to fund projects commenced by Tayside NHS board and the circumstances of that decision. This inquiry is ongoing.

"OSCR has a regulatory role where charity trustees appear not to have complied with their duties. We are working with the Scottish government to collect evidence on the use of NHS endowment funds.

"Once we have considered this evidence, we will provide an update to the public on whether we will be undertaking inquiries into other NHS endowment fund charities."

The Herald newspaper revealed last week that in 2014, when NHS Tayside faced a funding deficit, trustees of the endowment fund were asked to retrospectively fund projects worth £2.71m already approved by NHS Tayside.

The same members of NHS Tayside's board also serve as trustees of Tayside Health Fund.

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