Shetland predicting £7.5m health and care budget gap

Current approach to health & social care on the isles ‘increasingly difficult to fully fund’

Thursday 14th March 2019

Shetland Islands Health & Social Care Partnership (HSCP) will face a £7.5m funding shortfall by 2024 if demand for health and care continues to climb and services are not reformed.

The stark financial outlook for the HSCP, which brings together services previously provided by the NHS and the local council, is revealed in a new financial plan approved by its governing board yesterday.

In its second meeting of the year, the group approved a medium-term financial strategy that runs until 2024 and sets out an approach to bridging a financial gap on the islands, as funding fails to keep pace with demand for health and social care services.

It estimates that, if services cannot be delivered more efficiently, the gap between cost of the services it provides and the funding it receives from the NHS and local authority will widen from £2.5m in the next financial year to £7.5m in 2023-24.

“The Shetland Islands (IJB) is facing significant financial challenges and if nothing else changes spending would need to increase by 17% by 2023/24”, the plan states.

The current way of delivering health and social care services in the area is said to be unsustainable due to increasing pressures from an ageing population living with increasingly complex diseases and conditions.

But the strategy warns it will be ‘extremely challenging’ to achieve necessary savings and warns of a ‘high level of uncertainty’ as to whether planned reforms will save as much as expected.

A report on the budget for the next financial year considered at the meeting yesterday stated ‘since the formation of the Integration Joint Board in 2015 the payments to the IJB have not been enough to fund services as they are currently delivered.’

The budget for the Partnership is set jointly by the NHS and local council, which make annual payments.

Though payments have increased annually and the IJB describes them as ‘reasonable’, there is still a £2.5 million funding gap for the next year.

The report goes on to say the IJB’s influence in the budget-setting process ‘must be enhanced in future years’.