NHS Borders struggles to meet ‘treatment guarantee’ target

John Raine, chairman of NHS Borders.
John Raine, chairman of NHS Borders.

Although NHS Borders hit most of its performance targets in 2014/15, chairman John Raine said fulfilling the so-called “treatment guarantee” was proving an extreme challenge for his organisation

Introduced by the Scottish Government in 2012, the guarantee is framed to ensure eligible patients, including those with hernias, cataracts and those requiring hip and knee replacements, do not wait longer than 12 weeks from the date treatment is agreed to the actual start of treatment.

Mr Raine told last week’s annual review meeting that 
at the end of March, 27 patients had been waiting longer that 12 weeks for treatment at the BGH and that an extra £1.7million would be spent in the current year to achieve the target.

“It is still a tall order for a relatively small district hospital,” observed Mr Raine.

He said his health authority had been forced to make £5.5million in efficiency savings last year and nearly £7million, from a total budget of £233million, in the current financial year.

“We expect to have to make recurring savings of £5million year on year which is a tough ask given the demographic pressures we face.”

He said the number of people living to aged 75 and over in the Borders – which is above the current “healthy life expectancy” age - would rise by 75% over the next 20 years with attendant increases in people suffering from dementia, depression and diabetes.

This week, local Conservative MSP John Lamont urged the Scottish Government to look again at NHS Borders funding.

“If extra health spending from the UK Government had been passed on fairly, the Borders would have an extra £2million to spend this year,” he claimed.