Audit reveals failings
Scottish health board fails to monitor grant conditions for 20 practices awarded nearly £3 million through the Scottish Dental Access Initiative
An internal audit of 20 grant-aided practices in NHS Grampian (NHSG) has identified significant failings by the health board in how it monitored grant conditions.
The audit, compiled by accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers, found that of the 20 practices awarded funds from the Scottish Dental Access Initiative (SDAI), all but one had not been subjected to annual monitoring to confirm they were complying with the grant conditions.
It also revealed that, while NHSG is required to submit a letter to Scottish Government confirming appropriate procedures were in place, the board’s processes at the time meant that the board “only partly complied with the declaration”. The report stated that for 14 of the 20 practices, although documented procedures were in existence, annual monitoring had not been completed during 2013 and 2014.
A total of £2,975,000 has been awarded in Grampian since 2008, with the average grant being approximately £130,000. The report said that of the practices benefitting from a grant, all but two have a list size in excess of their target registration levels.
Aberdeen dentist Ross McLelland, who has been raising awareness of the problems with the SDAI grants awarded in the region for the last few years, said: “The findings in this report don’t surprise me. A catalogue of SDAI issues has been highlighted to NHSG over the last few years, with little action being taken. Ray Watkins, former CDO for Scotland, was consultant to NHSG in 2012 and personally reassured me that all scrutiny and monitoring of SDAI grants in the region was robust. This report proves that this statement was false.
“Remember that this is the health board that awarded a £250,000 SDAI grant to a practice that was not eligible under the contract terms at that time.
“This all amounts to a serious mismanagement of public funds in Grampian, and I wonder if it’s any better in other health boards. Perhaps it’s time for all health boards and all national SDAI awards to be scrutinised.”
An NHS Grampian spokesperson said: “We fully accept the findings of this report and have already put measures in place to address the issues raised. These are fully detailed in the report.”