A special investigation by the Tele can reveal what NHS Tayside pays out every year with taxpayers’ money.
Figures revealed by the health board show just what it has to spend to keep the service going from building maintenance and transport costs to compensation for medical negligence.
In the most recent figures between October 2010 and December 2012, NHS Tayside had to fork out more than 25,000 on 19 occasions for medical negligence a total of 2,673,132.15 over the period.
External consultancy payments ranged from between 1,616,581.65 in 2010/11 to 738,026.60 in 2012/13.
In the last year of available data, NHS Tayside hired the expertise of firms and agencies 57 times. The cost of employing businesses such as Audit Scotland, chartered surveyors Graham & Sibbald and even NHS Grampian, cost as little as 88 to as much as 228,812 each time.
Hospitality and entertainment costs also ranged from 79,529 to 99,698 on a yearly basis. It meant that, in total, over those three years, 265,109 was spent on hospitality and entertainment, although the NHS has not specified what exactly these costs were for.
The data shows that among the biggest payments was one made to HMRC a staggering 9,350,006.50 in December 2012.
Dr Robbie Robertson MBE, the former secretary of the Scottish Patients Association, said the NHS was successfully trimming the fat from its expenditure, but there was a little bit too much target-setting.
He said: “There’s been a lot of changes recently in the NHS. I think the people who have been brought in to be managers within the NHS don’t have any background in the health service and are from places like Marks & Spencer.
“With that, there’s a very real risk that they aren’t looking at things in the right way. There’s too much importance placed on reaching targets.
‘NHS has done a good job in reducing costs’
“The relationship between staff member and patient has perhaps disintegrated a little and that’s concerning. Having said that, I think the NHS has done a good job in reducing costs and, let’s face it, it had to be done.
“In terms of hospitality and entertainment, that’s something that, rightly, has come down. These wining and dining events used to happen far too much and that has been addressed.”
The Tayside health board has also funded a lot of transport and travel for patients.
It had to pay the Scottish Ambulance Service four lump sums for “patients travel expenses”, totalling 206,968.
It was those in neonatal care, though, that the NHS had to pay out far more substantial payments for. In payments to the Scottish Ambulance Service, NHS Glasgow and NHS Grampian, 3,244,512 was spent on “neonatal transport”.
A NHS Tayside spokeswoman said: “The Neonatal Transport Service (NNTS) is an element of several other national transport/retrieval services now operated and managed under the auspices of the Scottish Ambulance Service.
“There are four NNTS centres that cover Scotland Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen staffed by highly trained and experienced consultants and nurses, with purpose-designed ambulances and equipment to carry incubators in order to transport neonates. The neonates are also transported by air when necessary.
“The NNTS is used when neonates are in distress and need to be transported from a low intensity level of care to high intensity.
“Therefore, urgent transport is usually from a provincial hospital or community midwife unit to a hospital that provides the required level of care.
“The service also undertakes back transfer of the neonate to a suitable level of care following the intensive phase.”