NHS Fife’s financial controls have been criticised by independent auditors and an alarmed former board member.
Officials from Audit Scotland found the health service could be leaving itself open to fraud because proper processes are not being followed.
They also pointed to the lack of a long-term financial plan and revealed concern that multi-million pound savings proposals were so vague they were not open to proper scrutiny.
Whistleblower Andrew Rodger, who stepped down from the board when he retired as a councillor in May, said he was appalled by the findings.
He claimed he is now being ostracised by the wider NHS for daring to stand up for the people of Fife on how public money was being spent.
And he has called for private finance committees to be opened up to the public so they can see how their money is being spent.
Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Alex Rowley said NHS Fife had given very little information on the impact budget cuts would have on services and people and stated: “Levels of scrutiny fall far short of that required.”
Trade unions have also expressed concern.
NHS Fife chief executive Paul Hawkins defended the organisation, saying its governance arrangements were in line with all other health boards.
He said the points raised in Audit Scotland’s interim report had been addressed in a final report to be discussed at a public board meeting on Tuesday.
The auditors concluded that while key controls in place within NHS Fife’s main financial systems operated satisfactorily, there were several weaknesses.
They said there was no long-term financial plan beyond year three and no formal reporting on specific savings or timescales.
They added there was a risk the health board would be unable to achieve sustainability without long-term financial plans and that a lack of clarity over its activity could result in the board failing to achieve financial balance.
The report also found the NHS Fife website had not been kept up to date in a number of areas and concluded: “There is a risk that users do not have access to understandable, relevant and timely information and information is not as transparent as it should be.”
The auditors noted that when Tricia Marwick took over as board chair in January, a number of actions for improvement were put in place with more emphasis on scrutiny and governance.
NHS Fife reaction
NHS Fife chief executive Paul Hawkins said governance, transparency and financial management are of the utmost importance to NHS Fife.
He said the Audit Scotland report followed an interim review which allowed auditors to define their scope of work for the audit of the annual accounts.
He said: “The draft of the final report, which is prepared by Audit Scotland for the NHS Board and Auditor General Scotland, was considered by the NHS Fife audit and risk committee on Friday and addresses the points raised in their earlier report.
“This will be discussed at the public meeting of the NHS Board on Tuesday.”
Mr Hawkins added: “Our governance arrangements are in line with all other health boards.
“Papers for our four governance committees are published on our website, as are papers for NHS Fife board meetings.
“The board of NHS Fife consider all matters of governance, transparency and financial management of utmost importance to ensure the delivery of sage, effective and person-centred care for the people of Fife.”