NHS Tayside bosses are spending too much while failing to meet key service targets, according to an Audit Scotland report.
Auditor general of Scotland Stephen Boyle has published his annual report on NHS Tayside, raising concerns over “high running costs” while performance on service delivery remains “mixed”.
Managers have failed to meet 10 of 20 “non-financial” standards. They met only seven, with three currently under review.
Targets missed in which performance is running below the Scottish average in Tayside include:
- The percentage of patients who were able to book a consultation with a GP more than two working days in advance.
- Patients waiting no more than 12 weeks from referral to first outpatient appointment.
- The percentage of patients to commence psychological therapy within 18 weeks of referral.
Mr Boyle noted improvements in patient care and in the board’s finances, compared to the previous year.
The auditor general said: “NHS Tayside has made some clear progress under its new leadership team after a number of very challenging years, but it still faces a number of risks.
“The board knows that achieving financial stability lies in changing the way its services are designed and delivered.
“We’ve already seen how Covid-19 has accelerated innovation in some areas. It’s now essential that NHS Tayside builds on that good work and increases the pace of change in priority services.”
The board has received Scottish Government financial assistance for the eighth year in a row – getting £7 million in 2019/20 in order to balance its books.
Mr Boyle highlighted cuts totalling more than £14m in 2019/20 but he said “the pace of transformation of services has been slow.”
He said there were too many unfilled senior leadership posts and board members had not yet factored in additional Covid-19 spending into their plans.
Scant evidence of mental health progress
Mr Boyle praised improved waiting times and called for more progress on mental health after Dr David Strang’s highly critical independent report in February.
Labour councillor and Holyrood north east list candidate Michael Marra expressed “an extraordinary debt of gratitude” for staff efforts during the pandemic but said more need to be done.
“People in Dundee and Angus should be greatly concerned at the pace of change in services. It is now 19 months since NHS Tayside received David Strang’s interim report,” he said.
“There is scant evidence of any positive change. What we can see is management tinkering.
“The picture is repeated in the tragic drugs deaths figures. These look to be set to grow again this year.
“Three years on from our collective moral panic at the death of so many Dundonians there is little evidence of any real change in service provision.”
‘Improvement across the board’
NHS Tayside chief executive Grant Archibald said the report “signals a sustainable improvement across the board in terms of both our financial position and, importantly, service performance for our patients.”
He claimed the health board is “on track to break even this year.”
“Which is one year earlier than set out in our three-year financial recovery plan,” he added.
He said that was “something of a milestone” and praised the hard work of teams across health and social care for their work.
“Our priority, of course, remains the immediate response to Covid-19. However, the progress we have made over the past two years means that we are confident we are best placed to look ahead and plan for the medium and long-term response to the pandemic – and the important transformation of services that will be required across health and social care services in Scotland.”