Half of IJBs without emergency cash

Thursday 13th June 2019

Just under half of the public bodies leading health and social care integration in Scotland have no emergency cash set aside, despite fears Brexit – set to take place in October – could cause a spike in medicines prices.

Scotland’s 31 integration authorities also faced a cumulative deficit of almost £75m in the last financial year because they missed challenging savings targets, requiring bailouts from the NHS, local authorities and the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Government says it is investing an additional £700m in this financial year.

Compiled by chief finance officers, the figures were presented to the Scottish Government in December.

A summary was then published by North Lanarkshire health & social partnership.

There are 30 health and social care partnerships across Scotland, while Highland operates under different model.

As integration authorities, all are responsible for bringing together community health and social care services.

In December, 22 authorities said they would be in deficit at the end of the financial year, one predicted it would break even and eight said they would come in under budget.

Authorities overspent their budgets by £97m – with nearly two-thirds of this coming from savings targets that could not be achieved.

Other pressures included more people needing care, the cost of higher wages and increases in prescription spending.

This deficit was offset somewhat by £23m that was saved by not filling staff vacancies, leaving a net overspend of £74.4m.

This gap is to be met with bailouts from the NHS and local authorities, or, in one case, the Scottish Government.

The total amount of cash held in reserve by integration authorities also fell by a quarter, from £125m to £93m.

11 authorities reported having no reserves at all, while a further four have no emergency savings but have some money set aside for specific projects.

North Lanarkshire and Aberdeen are two of the authorities that have warned the UK’s departure from the EU, which is set to happen in October 2019, could increase prescribing costs.  

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “North Lanarkshire HSCP’s financial position at 31st March 2019 was a net underspend of £2.968m. 

“Integration Authorities have real power to drive change, managing over £9bn of resources that NHS Boards and local authorities previously managed separately. Pooling budgets in this way gives local systems greater opportunities to maximise the use of all of their resources to improve people’s health and wellbeing.

“We continue to invest in social care and integration, and this year our package of investment to support these services will exceed £700m, a 29% increase over last year.”