Financial and staffing pressures on NHS Borders has seen it moved into one category below which Government intervention would be required.
It was revealed this week that the local health board is now in category Stage 4 - meaning there could be significant risks to delivery, quality, financial performance or safety.
“For the first time this year we have been unable to make enough savings to balance the books, and while we continue to focus relentlessly on cost effectiveness - the people of the Borders would expect no less – this is absolutely not at the expense of patient safety, which is our number one priority,” said an NHS Borders spokesperson.
“Despite a £3 million improvement in our financial position this year, Scottish Government has advised ‘that the changes in leadership which are planned, the scale of the remaining financial challenges facing the board, and the need for pace in delivering of longer term sustainability present key risks’. “This has led the Director General to move us to Stage 4 of the NHS Board Performance Escalation Framework. Any resource offered from Scottish Government to help us drive forward our recovery plan is welcomed as we continue to work to address the challenges we face with a continuing focus on safe, high-quality patient care.”
Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP, John Lamont said: “NHS Borders must not be allowed to sleep walk into a full blown crisis and this news must act as a wake-up call to the Scottish Government.
“For several years, I have been urging the SNP Government to take action to address issues that NHS Borders have been having with staff recruitment, the cancellations of operations and meeting key targets. These warning signs cannot continue to be ignored.”
NHS Borders points out that: all their staff are committed, hard working and go above and beyond to deliver person centred and compassionate care for people in the Borders; recent cancer treatment times are good, as are their accident and emergency waiting times; vacancy rates for consultant posts are considerably lower than the national average; and hospital bed numbers (BGH and community hospitals) have remained almost unchanged since 2012.
“We are now looking to winter and preparing to deliver our service for the population of the Borders during what is usually a challenging season,” added the health board spokesperson.
“The planning for winter 2018 actually started months ago and we have spent lots of time engaging with front line and management colleagues across our health and social care system to be as ready as we can be.
“We have created additional capacity in order to enable our patients to be in the most suitable place to receive any further care that they require, instead of being in an acute hospital bed. A new Hospital to Home service has been established covering all of the Borders and will greatly improve discharge from the BGH and our community hospitals and there will be increased staffing at weekends and over the festive period.
“We will also be asking the public to play ‘your part’ too by making sure you are prepared for winter. Simple things like ensuring you have a well stocked medicine cabinet, use the experts in our communities such as pharmacists and dentists, look out for your neighbours, and help us run an effective service by cancelling your appointments if you are no longer able to attend them.”