Stirling & Clacks health & care budget warning

Friday 19th July 2019

An increase in drug prices due to Brexit is among the potential cost pressures facing the public bodies set up to integrate health and social care in Scotland.

The concern was raised during a meeting of the board which heads the Clackmannanshire and Stirling Health & Social Care Partnership (HSCP).

Many HSCPs are struggling under financial pressure and to meet savings targets.

A financial report has warned initial projections indicate an overspend in the range of £4.6m to £7.2m is possible for the Clackmannanshire and Stirling HSCP in 2019/20.

However it added a programme to reduce costs could result in savings of between £2m to £3.3m.

The report said: ‘Clearly, even at the optimistic end of these scenarios significant further cost reductions are required to move towards financial sustainability…’

The overspend is being driven by factors such as increasing demand for services, and the report said there is ‘significant scope’ for further increases in costs throughout the year.

One example given is the costs of drugs in primary care, ‘including price volatility related to Brexit’.

Seasonal surges in demand, filling of ‘critical vacant posts’ and costs associated with legislative changes - including the Carers Act and free personal care for the under 65s - are also identified as potentially adding to financial pressures this year.

The report, presented at a meeting of the Clackmannanshire and Stirling Integration Joint Board, concluded: ‘Possible prudence notwithstanding, the level of overspend indicated is significantly in excess of budget and…a combination of transformational change and service reduction is envisaged to be required to make service delivery financially sustainable.’

A spokesman for Clackmannanshire and Stirling HSCP said new chief officer Annemargaret Black had recently been appointed and a number of options were being discussed to reduce costs and ensure service sustainability.

He said: “There will be difficult and challenging decisions, which require absolute support of the Integration Joint Board and the leaders of its constituent bodies.

“Annemargaret has extensive leadership experience in driving forward improvements across the NHS, local authority and voluntary sectors and is ideally placed to build on the work already underway to integrate and improve local health and care services across Clackmannanshire and Stirling.”