Auditors have raised serious concerns over the north-east health board’s handling of a dental funding grant scheme worth millions of pounds.
Accountancy firm Pwc UK was commissioned by NHS Grampian to carry out an internal audit of the Scottish Dental Access Initiative (SDAI), which has distributed 23 grants worth close to £3million since being launched in 2008.
The scheme funds new practices on the condition that 80% of their business comes from NHS patients for seven years.
In a report published by Pwc following the review, the auditors rated the grant as “high risk” as a result of complacency in the way health bosses monitored it.
Last night, NHS Grampian said it had already taken measures to ensure the grant would be properly handled.
A spokeswoman 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.”
In July, the Press and Journal revealed that five north-east dental practices were being investigated by the health board amid fears the terms of the grant had been breached.
The inquiry was later widened to include a full review of the scheme.
The auditors’ investigation was divided into two categories – operating effectiveness, and control design.
Officials discovered that while there were processes in place to monitor the grants, there was no evidence of an annual visit being conducted for 16 dentists, while there was no evidence of data collection for 15 practices.
According to the report, the health board’s primary care contracts team viewed this as a “top priority” and was in the process of creating a database which will be updated regularly.
The review also found that while the health board had told the Scottish Government the grant terms were being adhered to each year until 2014, senior management had failed to ensure this was the case.
NHS Grampian has now confirmed all declarations will be reviewed by a senior manager in the future.
In addition, the report also found there was a “medium risk” created by the health board’s failings in working with non-compliant practices.
According to the report, management has pledged to properly document an action plan with any dentists who do not hit their targets.