ALLIANCE warns austerity will drive IJB decisions

Local authorities’ organisation COSLA says investment and reform needed

Friday 12th April 2019

The body representing many of Scotland’s health and care organisations says it fears tight budgets will knock Scotland’s health and social care partnerships off course.

The Health & Social Care Alliance Scotland’s chief executive, Professor Ian Welsh, says “The ALLIANCE is concerned the current financial climate of austerity may be viewed as a driver, and therefore overtly influence, the change that is needed in health and social care.”

“For integration to work effectively, a balanced and equitable approach must be taken to achieving all nine health and wellbeing outcomes, not just the outcome focused on effective use of resources. Instead of simply trying to do more with the same – or fewer – resources, we recommend exploring alternative ways of raising and allocating funds, including human rights budgeting.”

Professor Welsh’s comments come as an analysis of budget documents for Scotland’s Integration Joint Boards by healthandcare.scot shows more than three quarters reported budget deficits for the last financial year and all are forecasting funding gaps in the coming financial year.

The body representing Scotland’s councils, COSLA, says Health & Social Care Partnerships are facing significant pressures as demand is increasing and needs are becoming more complex.

Health and social care spokesperson Councillor Stuart Currie told healthandcare.scot that COSLA has been highlighting this as part of its ‘Essential Services’ campaign:

“Investment and reform is required to ensure we have truly integrated services that deliver better outcomes for people and shift the balance of care. The Audit Scotland report on integration last year recognised that progress is being made under integration, and the recent COSLA and Scottish Government Review of Progress outlines how further improvements can be made.”

The Scottish Government says it understands there are challenges facing the system despite a 29% increase in funding. A spokesperson added:

“The joint review of progress with integration, published in February 2019, made practical proposals to help address these challenges, and specific attention was paid to developing proposals that will improve integrated finances and financial planning.”