Tayside health board chair Frances Havenga has become the latest senior manager to leave her post following a damning report into debt-laden Tayside University Hospitals trust.
The report was published last week by a taskforce established three months ago by Scottish health minister Susan Deacon to investigate the trust's debts of£11m. It has since emerged that the trust is expecting a further£8m overspend in the current financial year.
The report says there was 'a clear lack of obvious leadership in the NHS in Tayside. This situation was further exacerbated by having minimal development of clear health strategy and policy, insufficient direction to the work of the acute services review and negligible public health input to the work of the health board.'
The report puts most of the blame for the deficit on debts inherited from the area's predecessor trusts. But it says that the trust took until June last year to realise the seriousness of the financial position and until November to take any action.
It also states that, 'expenditure in Tayside in almost every clinical and service category is either the highest in Scotland, or within the top quartile. The sole exception to this is for community services.'
Mrs Havenga decided, like trust chair Sir William Stewart, who also recently left, to resign before she was pushed. Board general manager Tom Brett is also now expected to leave.
Mrs Havenga said: 'The lack of support the board has received from Ms Deacon's department, and the manipulation of the NHS in Tayside for political ends, leaves me with no alternative but to stand down as chair.'
A Scottish Executive spokesperson said that Mrs Havenga would have been sacked if she had not gone voluntarily.
Criticism has also been levelled at senior managers within the NHS Management Executive, including beleaguered NHS Scotland chief executive Geoff Scaife, for not monitoring the debt problem and taking action sooner. The report says: 'This raises questions about the robustness and ultimate effectiveness of the format of reporting and monitoring arrangements.'
Ms Deacon later announced that Tayside would receive£4.7m as part of the£60m found for Scotland in the Budget. The money will be used to cut delayed discharges, improve forward planning and 'help ensure financial targets are met'.
Tayside Taskforce: interim report to the Minister of Health and Community Care. From the Press office, Scottish Executive, Regents Road, Edinburgh. Free.