The Oban Times & WEST HIGHLAND TIMES
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.