Coun­cil raises con­cern over pre­dicted health over­spend

Campbeltown Courier - - NEWS -

‘IF A coun­cil de­part­ment came back with a huge deficit like the one be­fore us to­day, then we would be ask­ing se­ri­ous ques­tions,’ was the as­sess­ment of Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil leader Aileen Mor­ton on the pre­dicted £5 mil­lion over­spend within the Health and So­cial Care Part­ner­ship (HSCP).

A meet­ing of the coun­cil’s pol­icy and re­sources com­mit­tee heard last Thurs­day that the HSCP was go­ing into its first full fi­nan­cial year with an over­spend of £2.966m in its first quar­ter.

A let­ter will be sent to the HSCP chief ex­ec­u­tive Christina West to raise con­cerns in ‘no uncertain terms ... at the escalating fi­nan­cial gap and the po­ten­tial risk this brings to highly val­ued, es­sen­tial lo­cal ser­vices, to the coun­cil and to the part­ner­ship it­self ’.

The com­mit­tee agreed to ‘seek con­fir­ma­tion from the HSCP board that a ro­bust ac­tion plan will be put in place’.

Coun­cil­lor Mor­ton said she was ‘se­ri­ously con­cerned’ about the fi­nan­cial risk to Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil from the escalating costs that may have to be found from its own bud­get.

Ms Mor­ton said of the HSCP: ‘In com­mon with all coun­cil de­part­ments in the con­text of sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced funding, it needs to iden­tify, man­age and im­ple­ment sav­ings across all rel­e­vant ser­vice ar­eas.’

A pre­vi­ous gap in funding was met by the lo­cal au­thor­ity. At a bud­get meet­ing in Fe­bru­ary this year, the coun­cil agreed to pro­vide a ‘one-off tran­si­tionary’ pay­ment of £2.137 mil­lion.

The coun­cil heard the pay­ment was over and above what the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment guide­lines ex­pected the coun­cil to pro­vide.

The dis­cus­sion on the HSCP’s cur­rent fi­nan­cial gap was raised when head of strate­gic fi­nance Kirsty Flan­ni­gan said the pro­jected £5 mil­lion over­spend was a risk to the coun­cil.

Speak­ing of the fi­nan­cial risks to the coun­cil, Ms Flana­gan said: ‘The risk is that the In­te­grated Joint Board (IJB) [the com­mit­tee over­see­ing the work of the HSCP] refers back to the coun­cil for ad­di­tional funding in the event there is an over­spend and where a re­cov­ery plan has proved to be un­suc­cess­ful. If an ad­di­tional pay­ment is re­quired from the coun­cil, this will be de­ducted from fu­ture years’ funding/pay­ments.

‘As at June 30, 2017, the over­spend ap­por­tioned to ser­vice pro­vided by the coun­cil is £2.966m.’

A spokesman for the HSCP said: ‘It should be ac­knowl­edged that the cur­rent fore­cast over­spend of £5m is the po­si­tion in the first quar­ter of this fi­nan­cial year and this fore­cast po­si­tion is re­liant upon a num­ber of as­sump­tions around the cur­rent and ex­pected level of ser­vice de­mand and costs, which are sub­ject to change.

‘The fore­cast bud­get over­spend also represents less than two per cent of the over­all bud­get and the IJB achieved fi­nan­cial bal­ance in 2016-17 through the suc­cess­ful im­ple­men­ta­tion of a fi­nan­cial re­cov­ery plan. Un­doubt­edly, the scale of the fi­nan­cial chal­lenge in 2017-18 is far greater, as the bud­get gap is greater and ser­vice changes be­come more com­plex as we trans­form health and so­cial care ser­vices.’

He added that ac­tions to ad­dress the fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion have been iden­ti­fied, in­clud­ing:

En­sure the IJB con­tin­ues to se­cure its ex­pected funding from health and coun­cil part­ners.

De­velop a de­tailed re­cov­ery plan – work has al­ready started on this.

Con­tinue to de­ploy man­age­ment ac­tions to iden­tify ef­fi­cien­cies.

Con­tinue to ne­go­ti­ate with NHS Greater Glas­gow & Clyde to get a fi­nal agree­ment for the ser­vice level agree­ment for acute ser­vices with the ex­pec­ta­tion of re­leas­ing re­sources.

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