£3.2m council bail out to joint health board

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Local Democracy Reporting Service

The local authority has handed the money to the Scottish Borders health and social care integrated joint board (IJB), which is funded as a partnership between the council and the local NHS board, amidst rising concern over the finances of NHS Borders.

At a recent meeting of the IJB the board revealed it needs to make £11.7m of savings in 2019/20, £11m - the forecasted overspend from NHS Borders. As a result, NHS Borders will again seek a bailout from the Scottish Government.

At a meeting of Scottish Borders Council’s executive last week David Robertson, SBC’s chief financial officer, said: “I just want to highlight one thing about the affordability of the integrated joint health partnership, and I ask members to note that the IJB received an additional £3.2m from Scottish Borders Council for this year.

“This level of support for the IJB is unsustainable. There is pressure on the IJB to make savings to make it sustainable.”

In October last year, NHS Borders received a £10m bail out from the Scottish Government when it cancelled debt owed by the NHS, and the struggling NHS health board has been asked to draw up a three-year plan to achieve financial balance.

In March 2019, NHS Borders board members went before the Scottish Government’s health and sport committee to explain its financial shortcomings.

Scottish Borders Council made £16.4m worth of savings in 2018/19, £11.6m of which are permanent savings which do not need to be repeated each year. NHS finance officers have been asked to attend the next meeting of the IJB to explain to the board how much progress they have made on the three-year financial plan.

Tracey Logan, SBC chief executive, said: “The NHS is working on the financial plan for the next three years. As it stands today, there is no substantive plan to bridge the budget gap, which is not far off 10% of the NHS Borders budget. It’s a gap of about £22m to £23m in their budget, which is around £250m, so it’s a massive, massive issue.

“From a joint management perspective we are very keen to be allowed to engage with the financial planning at NHS Borders because we are so inextricably linked. We can’t separate it out, so if there’s an issue with NHS Borders’ financial planning, then there’s an issue for us.”