Posted on 3/05/2018 by David Burgess
The health secretary has agreed to publish the finances of NHS boards every month in the wake of the financial crisis at NHS Tayside.
Shona Robison said the move would provide "greater transparency and accountability".
Opposition parties have called on her to quit, claiming she has presided over a "series of failings" in the NHS.
It recently emerged that NHS Tayside had used endowment funding to cover general running costs.
Ms Robison replaced the board's chairman and chief executive last month after saying she was not confident its previous leadership was capable of managing its finances.
The health board has received Scottish government "brokerage" loans of £33.2m in the past five years to cover spending gaps - and has warned it will need between £9m and £12m more.
The Scottish Conservatives used a debate at Holyrood on Wednesday to call for the government to publish full details of NHS boards' finances and provide regular updates in the future.
The party's health spokesman, Miles Briggs, warned there were "growing concerns" about the financial accountability and reporting of the joint boards overseeing the integration of health and social care in Scotland.
Ms Robison responded by confirming that monthly information on NHS boards' financial performance would be available from June.
She also said she had agreed to review the progress of the integration authorities, and had committed to publishing a medium-term financial framework for the health service in the coming weeks.
Ms Robison said: "I hope that Miles Briggs and others agree that what has been set out is a reasonable proposal to address the concerns set out in the motion and provide greater transparency and accountability to this parliament."
On the misuse of endowment funds, she said returns submitted by all boards had been passed to the Office of the Scottish Charities Regulator (OSCR) for review.
She added: "I can confirm today that there was nothing in the responses that is a cause for concern and no boards are showing retrospective use of endowment funds in order to improve their financial position as happened in Tayside".
Mr Briggs welcomed the plan for greater financial accountability of the integration joint boards, but said: "We need to now take time to ensure that they are truly fit for purpose."
Mr Briggs added: "We want to see the cabinet secretary commit to a review of the integration joint boards to fully understand their current financial position, but also to look to how effective they have been and what future reforms may be needed.
"We cannot and we will not just stand in the sidelines and watch a crisis in our social care system build ever greater."
Mr Briggs said he had not called for Ms Robison to resign as the debate was "too important" to be made personal, adding: "The truth is I don't believe there is anyone on the SNP benches who could actually step up to the challenge."
However, Scottish Labour and the Scottish Liberal Democrats renewed their calls for the health secretary to go.
Labour's Anas Sarwar said she had presided over a "series of failings" and accused the Tories of offering her a "fig leaf for her failings".
He said: "It appears there are only two people in the chamber who don't think Shona Robison should go - Nicola Sturgeon and Miles Briggs," he said.
"Scotland's NHS needs change, change that starts right at the top of the organisation."
Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton added: "There are light bulbs flashing all over the dashboard of our NHS in warning of the many problems it faces."