The donation of an advanced CT scanner to an NHS hospital in Scotland has drawn criticism.
An Aquilion One scanner was bought for the Queen’s Medical Research Institute (QMRI) and NHS Lothian in Edinburgh, as part of a £4 million donation by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).
But while staff at QMRI and NHS Lothian will have access to the machine 75% of the time, for the remaining 25% the machine will be used by RBS as part of the company’s own health-screening programme for staff, reported The Scotsman.
This arrangement prompted Margo MacDonald, the independent MSP for the Lothians, to announce that she would bring the matter to the Scottish parliament.
“I think it would be better to debate this in parliament and work out if there are any ground rules that are needed for possible donations in the future,” she said.
Professor Allyson Pollock, a public health doctor and head of the Centre for International Public Health Policy at the University of Edinburgh, said this deal went against NHS principles:
“If RBS staff are going to get access to a quarter of the capacity of this scanner then that goes against equal access for equal need.
What she called “philanthropy with strings” posed “a real risk that the underlying principles of the NHS are disrupted”, she said.
Dr Charles Swainson, the medical director of NHS Lothian, said that patients would not be put at a disadvantage.
“I don’t think it is unreasonable for a major donor to ask for something back for its staff so long as it does not compete with the NHS, which in this case it doesn’t,” he said.