Fears over cash mess at Health Board

Fi­nan­cial chal­lenges are ‘ likely to con­tinue’

Ayrshire Post - - Memory Lane - Pippa Smith

Se­ri­ous reser­va­tions have been raised over the fi­nances of un­der- pres­sure NHS Ayr­shire and Ar­ran.

The health au­thor­ity are strug­gling to bal­ance the books de­spite be­ing given a £ 23mil­lion bailout in loans from the Scot­tish Govern­ment.

But in a re­port by the Au­dit Gen­eral, Caro­line Gard­ner, says that NHS Ayr­shire and Ar­ran will need fur­ther govern­ment cash to cope with a pro­jected short­fall of £ 22.4m.

And she ex­pressed “se­ri­ous reser­va­tions” around the health board’s abil­ity to “make changes” that are needed to “achieve fi­nan­cial bal­ance in the fu­ture”.

The re­port states that the health au­thor­ity will not be able to bal­ance its bud­get by 2020/ 21 and that it has no plans to re­pay the loans to the Scot­tish Govern­ment.

It needs to im­ple­ment its T r a n s f o rma t i o n C h a n g e Im­prove­ment Plan and act on the rec­om­men­da­tions of an ex­ter­nal re­view. John Burns, chief ex­ec­u­tive of NHS Ayr­shire & Ar­ran, says that the fi­nan­cial sus­tain­abil­ity of the health board has been an “in­creas­ing chal­lenge over re­cent years” due to the hike in “un­sched­uled care de­mand”.

He added: “NHS Ayr­shire & Ar­ran is com­mit­ted to de­liv­er­ing safe, sus­tain­able ser­vices.

“We recog­nise the re­quire­ment to achieve this through best value and within our bud­get of over £ 800m.

“Due to in­creas­ing un­sched­uled care de­mand, this has re­quired ex­tra hos­pi­tal beds to be opened, as well as cost pres­sures, in­clud­ing new drugs and agency med­i­cal costs to sus­tain ser­vices.

“How­ever, 2017/ 2018 was the first year that we re­ceived fi­nan­cial bro­ker­age. In re­cent years we have needed to achieve higher lev­els of cash re­leas­ing ef­fi­ciency sav­ings.

“These sav­ings have been dif­fi­cult to achieve and 40 per cent of the £ 24.8m sav­ings made in 2017/ 18 were non- re­cur­ring.

“NHS Ay r s h i re & Ar­ran es­tab­lished a trans­for­ma­tional change pro­gramme two years ago to co- or­di­nate ser­vice re­design pro­pos­als.

“Many of these re­designs take sev­eral years be­fore the ben­e­fit is seen in terms of op­er­at­ing costs.

“Suc­cess re­quires re­form and re­design across all our health and so­cial care ser­vices.

“We are also work­ing closely with col­leagues in Scot­tish Govern­ment who are sup­port­ing us through the change process.”

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