Health and social care finance headache

Local Democracy Reporting Service

NHS Borders board members attended a meeting of the Scottish Borders health and social care integrated joint board (IJB), which is funded as a partnership between the council and the health board, to give an update on their financial situation.

NHS Borders’ chief executive, Ralph Roberts, and the health board’s finance director, Carol Gillie, explained to IJB members that the financial plan is unsustainable and savings will need to be made.

Since 2016/17, NHS Borders has recorded a rapidly increasing deficit, from £1.7m up to the £13.8m it stands at today. Last year, the health board required a bail out from the Scottish Government of £10.3m, and this week another bail out of £9.3m was confirmed, although it will need to be paid back. A condition of receiving the bail out is that NHS Borders publishes a three-year financial plan in September, to bring them back to sustainability.

The health board has also been placed on level four of the Scottish Government’s performance management ladder, one step away from being placed into special measures.

The health board plans £12.7m of cuts over the next 12 months: £5.2m at Borders General Hospital; £1.3m from mental health services; £5.1m from primary care; £0.8m from corporate; and £0.3m from external providers. External pressures on NHS Borders finances also come from an extra £4.2m pay increase for staff in 2019/20, £1.7m for new drugs, plus added inflation for general supplies, £0.8m.

The IJB currently has a financial gap of £10.2m, and last month Scottish Borders Council handed over an extra £3.2m to help plug the gap. NHS Borders has signalled it will pay its share of the funding gap, using the brokerage it has now secured from the Scottish Government.

SBC needs to make £1.6m of savings from its IJB services (£1.3m already found); the NHS needs to make £11.8m.