Tayside and Central Scotland

Advisers appointed to tackle NHS Tayside financial 'challenges'

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Independent advisers have been appointed to help NHS Tayside meet "prolonged and considerable" financial challenges.

A report from Audit Scotland last year found the health board needs to make savings of around £175m over the next five years.

The Scottish government said the move to appoint advisers was part of its approach to helping NHS boards.

It has has provided loans of £24.3m to the board over the last four years.

It has now appointed an Assurance Advisory Group to provide expertise on financial planning and "transformational change" to the board's management team.

Ministers said the measure was part of its approach to helping NHS boards.

The group will be chaired by Prof Sir Lewis Ritchie and will report back to Paul Gray, chief executive of NHS Scotland, within three months.

Audit Scotland said NHS Tayside's potential budget deficit for 2016-17 stood at £11.65m.

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Image caption NHS Tayside chief executive Lesley McLay has previously said there was "no intention whatsoever" of cutting jobs

It said managers were faced with making "unprecedented" savings of £58.4m during that period.

Over the next five years, savings of £175m will need to be made, while NHS Tayside will also have to repay £20m of loan cash to the government.

Mr Gray said: "NHS Tayside has put in place a transformation programme to deliver improved services to patients and better cost effectiveness.

"This plan sets out how the board will achieve financial balance.

"The advisory group I have appointed, chaired by Professor Sir Lewis Ritchie, will work with NHS Tayside to help them deliver this programme.

"I have asked them to report back to me within three months on the robustness of the plan and the progress made to date.

"I am confident it will help NHS Tayside to put in place the steps required to achieve a sustainable financial balance."

'Transform services'

Prof John Connell, chairman of NHS Tayside, welcomed the appointment.

He said: "The wealth of experience of the members will bring further external perspective to the planning and delivery of our transformational programme.

"Against the background of the scale of challenge we face, the additional capacity the group will provide is also welcomed as we acknowledge our staff are working hard to deliver the day-to-day care and treatment for patients, their families and communities, at the same time as planning to transform services."

Holyrood's Public Audit Committee had expressed concerns over NHS Tayside's plan ahead of a meeting with the board on Thursday.

Convener Jenny Marra pointed to additional government loan requests and proposals for "high or medium risk" savings.

"The financial recovery plan that NHS Tayside has submitted is still deeply worrying," she said.

"At tomorrow's meeting, we expect to get detailed answers on how they'll make these savings without impacting NHS Tayside jobs and vital patient services."

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