Edinburgh health & care facing funding black hole

£7m spending gap looms as officials at health & care partnership dip into savings and accelerate cuts

Friday 24th May 2019

Edinburgh health & social care partnership faces a £7m funding shortfall for the coming year despite introducing a tough savings regime and dipping into its reserves.

According to papers for today’s meeting of the governing Integration Joint Board (IJB), senior leaders at the partnership are to meet with NHS Lothian and the council to try to find a way to plug the gap.

It comes after NHS Lothian’s lead public health doctor warned in March that plans to cut money from drug and alcohol services could increase deaths in the capital.

Last month former Scottish Labour leader and departing MSP Kezia Dugdale claimed the city did ‘not have enough money to care for its vulnerable’.

The joint project between NHS Lothian and the council has to cut more than £21m from its spending in the current financial year.

But, even after approving a one-off £2.4m transfer from the partnership’s cash reserves, officials have only been able to find £14m-worth of ‘robust and challenging’ savings, leaving £7m unaccounted for.

Officials say a funding boost for the year ahead is ‘outstripped by the projected increases in cost’.

Pressures are expected to come from a rising wage bill and more and more people using health and care services.

They’re also looking for more areas where savings can be found, including the ‘acceleration’ of existing plans, alongside a ‘longer term need to radically redesign’ services.

Last year the HSCP needed a £10m bailout from NHS Lothian and the council.

In April healthandcare.scot found that every one of Scotland’s 30 health and care partnerships was forecasting cuts for this year.

The revelation prompted a leading group of charities to warn the integration of health and social care – described by the Scottish Government as the biggest change to the NHS since it was founded – could be nudged off course as officials focus on saving money.