The Oban Times - - Letters -

We’ve been here be­fore and no doubt we will be asked to grasp this thorny old net­tle again and again. But NHS High­land seems in­ca­pable at present of de­liv­er­ing a well-bal­anced bud­get.

The de­gree of ob­fus­ca­tion and eva­sive­ness in its pre­sen­ta­tion is breath­tak­ing. If you re­quire the ‘oc­u­lar proof’ to quote the Bard, just take a closer look at the words of that au­gust body’s fi­nance di­rec­tor, Mr Nick Ken­ton re­ported in this week’s news­pa­per.

He re­veals in his re­port to the health board re­cently that for the first quar­ter of this year, NHS High­land is al­ready £2 mil­lion over its rev­enue bud­get, and if that up­ward trend con­tin­ues to the end of the year, it will have amassed a sig­nif­i­cant deficit some­where in the re­gion of over £ 5 mil­lion.

The ubiq­uity of med­i­cal locums through­out NHS High­land is blamed for the huge spike in the rev­enue costs and he ad­vo­cates a more pru­dent and fru­gal use of tem­po­rary staff to bring the bud­get back into con­trol and into the real world.

So far, so good. But then he blows it when he falls back on the mys­ti­fy­ing gob­bledy­gook prac­tised by pro­fes­sional bu­reau­crats of his ilk. He said the books can be bal­anced by the end of the year if they pur­sue ‘cash-re­leas­ing ben­e­fits from sav­ings plans and trans­for­ma­tional projects’. What on earth does that mean?

Per­haps it’s just another non­sen­si­cal buzz phrase to dis­tract us from the re­al­ity of the sit­u­a­tion: a re­al­ity that sug­gests NHS High­land man­agers strug­gle to work within a bud­get. And we, the pa­tients, are con­demned, ad nau­seam, ad in­fini­tum, to read the same old balder­dash year in, year out.

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