NHS Tayside’s beleaguered chief executive must not be given a golden goodbye if she departs the health board, the chair of Holyrood’s Public Audit Committee has said.
Lesley McLay has been replaced by NHS Grampian chief Malcolm Wright on an interim basis following revelations that charity cash was used to plug financial gaps.
She is still an employee of the health board but sources say she is unlikely to return to her role after Health Secretary Shona Robison said her position was “untenable”.
Other NHS chief executives have been given six-figure payouts when they have left under controversial circumstances in recent years.
Richard Carey pocketed a £255,789 “compensation payment” when he retired from NHS Grampian in 2014 after being embroiled in a staffing controversy, while James Barbour received £100,000 after leaving NHS Lothian in 2012 just a month after the board was criticised by then-Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon for manipulating waiting times.
Committee chair Jenny Marra said: “However management leaves the employment of NHS Tayside over this issue, there should be no golden handshakes under any circumstances.”
It emerged that 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.
The health board, which was bailed out with a loan of £33.2m in 2016-17, was reported to have used the endowment fund when “faced with a funding deficit” in 2013/14.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde chairman John Brown has been appointed as interim chairman of the Tayside health board after John Connell quit the role under pressure from Ms Robison.
Ms Robison said: “All organisations reach a point where a change of management is needed, and this is the case in NHS Tayside.” Meanwhile, Labour’s health spokesman Anas Sarwar has warned Ms Robison she “cannot wash her hands” of the NHS Tayside scandal.
He said she should apologise and “consider her own position”.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Details of NHS Tayside’s retrospective use of endowment funding will form part of the externally-led review of the governance of NHS Tayside finances and we expect the board to comply fully with any recommendations.
“Endowment funds operate within legal frameworks and the Scottish Government expects trustees to comply fully with the requirements of the legislation.
“The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator has also begun an investigation into the matter and we will take any necessary actions required as a result of their findings.”
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