Health boards owe NHS Tay­side £500k

Evening Telegraph (First Edition) - - Court Reports - BY STEVEN RAE

NHS Tay­side is owed more than £500,000 by health boards in Eng­land, North­ern Ire­land and Wales, the Tele can re­veal.

In­for­ma­tion ob­tained through a free­dom of in­for­ma­tion re­quest shows that the health board is due £520,011 from bod­ies lo­cated out­side NHS Scot­land — with the money be­ing “dis­puted”.

All of the costs re­late to hos­pi­tal ad­mis­sions for pa­tients treated i n Tay­side.

The vast ma­jor­ity of that sum — £468,315 — is due from NHS Eng­land boards.

Welsh boards owe the re­gion £28,162, while there is £23,534 out­stand­ing from North­ern Ire­land.

The fig­ures re­late to amounts owed as of Fe­bru­ary 21.

When pa­tients from out­side the re­gion are treated, a fi­nan­cial recovery is made re­gard­less of where they are from in the UK. NHS Tay­side has a ser­vice level agree­ment (SLA) in place with other Scot­tish health boards.

That means an an­nual charge is made for cross-bound­ary pa­tient flow — such as pa­tients trav­el­ling to Ninewells Hos­pi­tal for spe­cial­ist treat­ment or pa­tients from Tay­side go­ing to boards else­where in Scot­land.

Where ac­tiv­ity is not cov­ered by an SLA, it is in­voiced on a cost-per-case ba­sis and the money is col­lected ev­ery three months.

That in­cludes all ac­tiv­ity in Tay­side in­volv­ing pa­tients from Eng­land, Wales and North­ern Ire­land.

A spokes­woman for NHS Tay­side said: “In terms of dis­putes, this could be for any­thing and any num­ber of rea­sons why it is be­ing pur­sued. In some cases it is sim­ply a mi­nor de­tail such as the amount owed rather than a large ‘dis­pute’ where an­other board is re­fus­ing to pay. There are also in­voices in­cluded that are not yet due for pay­ment.”

The debt has come to light at a time when NHS Tay­side’s fi­nances have come un­der in­tense scru­tiny.

The board cur­rently owes £33 mil­lion in “bro­ker­age” l oans to the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment and is now ex­pected to ask for an­other £12m to fill a fund­ing black hole.

Last month, it emerged that £5.3m of “eHealth” money was in­ap­pro­pri­ately hid­den away over six years by the pre­vi­ous board man­age­ment to paint a bet­ter fi­nan­cial pic­ture.

The cash was meant for dig­i­tal health­care — but was in­stead used to bol­ster the be­lea­guered board’s trou­bled fi­nances, sit­ting in a £23m purse of “de­ferred ex­pen­di­ture”.

NHS Tay­side chief ex­ec­u­tive Les­ley McLay was forced out of her role at the start of the month, with Mal­colm Wright, the for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive of NHS Grampian, named as act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive in her place.

Pro­fes­sor John Con­nell, the for­mer chair­man, re­signed the same day and was re­placed by NHS Greater Glas­gow and Clyde chair­man John Brown.

Inset above: Mal­colm Wright, act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive of NHS Tay­side.

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