Tayside and Central Scotland

NHS Tayside on road to recovery, report says

Ninewells Hospital
Image caption Ninewells Hospital is one of NHS Tayside's largest facilities

NHS Tayside is "on the road to recovery" but still needs to make major changes, a new report has said.

An advisory group set up to help the struggling health board said it had "made progress" towards meeting 10 recommendations for improvement that were set out in June 2017.

Its ranking on an NHS performance scale has been upgraded from five - the lowest level - to four.

The health board was previously put in "special measures' by the government.

Concerns were raised about the use of funds donated to the health service for IT improvements.

It was claimed the health board used cash from an endowment fund to cover planned expenses including new computer systems in 2014.

A new chairman and chief executive were appointed in April.

The board's new ranking on the NHS Board Performance Escalation Framework means it is still classed as having "significant risks to delivery, quality, financial performance or safety" with "senior level external support required".

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman confirmed the change in ranking after receiving the latest update from the NHS Tayside Assurance and Advisory Group, led by Sir Lewis Ritchie.

It stated: "While we are of the view that NHS Tayside is on the road to recovery, much more needs to be done: encouraging incremental change has happened but transformational change still beckons and is imperative."

'Start of the journey'

The health board has made "substantial improvements in controlling and reducing expenditure", the report said, with the monthly overspend down by more than 20% from £1.9m per month between April and June last year to an average of £1.5m from July 2018 to January 2019.

It is currently on track to make efficiency savings of £32.2m in 2018-19 - about £2.8m more than its target figure of £29.4m.

Ms Freeman said the report "demonstrates the progress that NHS Tayside continues to make in key areas".

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She added that the interim leadership team of chairman John Brown and chief executive Malcolm Wright had "stabilised finances, improved governance and changed the way services are planned and managed by putting clinicians at the heart of decision-making".

She said: "On the basis of these encouraging results, it is the right time to bring NHS Tayside into line with other boards in a similar position and re-designate it as Stage 4 in the Board Escalation Framework."

But she stressed: "This is just the start of the journey for the new chief executive Grant Archibald in making services the best they can be for patients of NHS Tayside.

"We will continue to work closely with the board in achieving its aims over the coming months and years."

Sir Lewis Ritchie, the chairman of the NHS Tayside Assurance and Advisory Group, said: "It has been a real privilege to support the recovery of NHS Tayside and I am confident, from their progress to date, that they have a sound foundation for the improvements that are now required."

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