Use of charity cash by health boards to be reviewed in wake of scandal
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has announced a review into how health boards use cash donated to NHS endowment funds following a scandal at NHS Tayside.
The Scottish Government was forced to intervene in the running of the cash-strapped health board last year after it emerged millions in charity donations had been used to fund new technology.
NHS Tayside has had £37.5 million worth of bailouts in five years.
Following an investigation, the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) found the health board did not break the rules by spending £3.6 million of endowment fund cash on IT equipment and e-health schemes as such projects “were advancing the health of the people of Tayside”.
The watchdog found “the decision to authorise retrospective consideration of funding applications was rushed and reflected poor practice” and said the case exposed the risk of conflicts of interest when those overseeing the health board are also in charge of its charitable fund.
The regulator recommended Ms Freeman address the issue by reviewing legislation relating to NHS endowment fund charities.
She has now announced Julie Hutchison, charities specialist at fund management company Aberdeen Standard Capital, as the chairwoman of a project group to review NHS endowment fund governance.
Ms Freeman said: “I am pleased to announce that I have appointed Julie Hutchison to chair a review of the governance of NHS endowment funds in Scotland.
“Ms Hutchison is an independent specialist in charities governance and will lead an expert project group to provide me with a report and recommendations before the end of this year.
“The group will consider how to ensure that those responsible for the management and control of these charitable funds are able to demonstrate at all times that they are acting in the interests of the charity.
“This will involve reviewing current models of structure and operation, the strengths and weaknesses of potential alternative models of governance and the practicalities of how to deliver improvements.”