Outsourcing driving up Edinburgh social care costs

Monday 24th June 2019

Outsourcing social care services in Edinburgh is the ‘single most significant financial challenge’ facing the city’s health and social care partnership (HSCP), annual accounts reveal.

In the last year, ‘externally purchased [social care] services’ – including home care – ran over budget by more than £6m.

Edinburgh HSCP says buying in additional services helps to cover recruitment gaps, staff absences and periods of higher demand, telling healthandcare.scot it often uses private providers and agency workers to ensure they can keep delivering services they legally have to provide.

“Edinburgh – like many parts of the country – faces a number of very real challenges in relation to health and social care recruitment and it’s important that we recognise this as part of our financial plan,” explains HSCP chief officer Judith Proctor.

“This spend is closely monitored and we have introduced recruitment and engagement events and a modern apprenticeship programme to help us address the underlying factors behind these challenges.”

A range of different private companies are commissioned by the partnership to provide home care and care home services in the capital.

The annual accounts show the cost of care outsourcing was one of the pressures prompting NHS Lothian and Edinburgh council, which jointly fund the partnership, to make one-off payments to make up a funding shortfall.

Other pressures include health services going over budget and savings targets being missed.

After the extra £10m from its partners, the partnership ended the year with a £1.3m surplus, which will be set aside to fund reforms and provide a financial cushion in the year ahead – as it warns ‘money is tighter than ever before’.