NHS Tayside rejects claims that former CEO Lesley McLay was given large pay-off

© DC ThomsonFormer NHS Tayside chief executive Lesley McLay
Former NHS Tayside chief executive Lesley McLay

NHS Tayside has rubbished reports that their former chief executive was given a large pay-off.

Lesley McLay was removed as chief executive in April in a leadership purge following a series of cash crises at the organisation.

Jenny Marra, the Labour MSP and convener of Holyrood’s public audit committee, said she understands the golden goodbye for Ms McLay was “more than £300,000”.

NHS Tayside said claims made about any sum of money received by the ex-CEO are “categorically untrue”.

The board said Ms McLay was only given what she was “contractually entitled to” on her departure, which came three months after she was stripped of the senior role.

Earlier, Ms Marra said it was a “slap in the face” for patients and staff in NHS Tayside and a “gross misuse of public money”.

In a statement over the weekend, a spokeswoman for the health board said Ms McLay left the board on July 31, but refused to give more details.

Ms McLay, a former nurse who took the £125,000-a-year CEO post in 2013, went on sick leave the day before her accountable officer status was revoked.

That allowed her to pocket £30,000 while off for three months while still at the organisation but without a role.

In April, the Auditor General Caroline Gardner told MSPs it would be “difficult to justify” a golden goodbye for Ms McLay.

Last night a spokeswoman for Audit Scotland said: “We will review any severance payment made as part of our planned audit work on NHS Tayside, and report in public in the usual way.”

It emerged this year that £2.7m of charity donations to the NHS Tayside’s endowment fund were used to cover general expenditure.

Earlier, it was revealed an accounting fiddle with digital healthcare funds was deployed by finance chiefs over several years to make the board’s financial position look more favourable.

Dougie Maguire, from Unite in Dundee, said Tayside staff would be “outraged” if the pay-off sum turned out to be true.

He said: “Patients and staff would be very distressed to discover there is such a high reward for failure.”

A spokeswoman NHS Tayside said: “The claims made about any sum of money received by Ms McLay are categorically untrue.

“As with any NHS Tayside employee, Ms McLay received what she was contractually entitled to and nothing more upon leaving the organisation.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We have been advised by NHS Tayside that this claim is categorically untrue and that Ms McLay received what she was contractually entitled to and nothing more.”