£35m to bail out two NHS boards

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By Kate Fos­ter Scot­tish Health Editor

TWO cri­sis-hit health boards each had to be bailed out with up to £18mil­lion of tax­pay­ers’ cash last year.

NHS Tay­side was given £16.7mil­lion by the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment in 018-19, say re­ports by Scot­land’s Au­di­tor Gen­eral.

Over that time NHS High­land, which also faces bul­ly­ing al­le­ga­tions, re­quired £18mil­lion of gov­ern­ment loans.

Pub­lic spend­ing watch­dog Au­dit Scot­land warned both boards still face big challenges in bal­anc­ing their books.

Labour’s health spokesman Mon­ica Len­non said de­scribed the assess­ment as ‘ex­tremely wor­ry­ing, adding: ‘Pa­tients and NHS staff de­serve bet­ter.’

Au­di­tor Gen­eral Caro­line Gard­ner said she has con­cerns on NHS High­land’s abil­ity to make ‘ur­gent and ma­jor’ changes needed. Her re­port says: ‘There are con­cerns over the wider gover­nance and cul­ture.’

Miss Gard­ner said NHS Tay­side faces ‘sub­stan­tial long-term fi­nan­cial and op­er­a­tional challenges’, de­spite mak­ing some im­prove­ments.

Jenny Marra, con­vener of Holy­rood’s pub­lic au­dit com­mit­tee, said: ‘There is still a long way to go to se­cure the fu­ture of NHS Tay­side.’ On NHS High­land, she added: ‘This re­port will ring alarm bells for the com­mit­tee.’

NHS Tay­side chief ex­ec­u­tive Grant Archibald said a three-year plan to re­turn NHS Tay­side to break-even ‘is de­liv­er­ing good re­sults’. An NHS High­land spokesman said it ‘ac­knowl­edges the sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenge it faces’.

A Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment spokesman said next year’s ‘base­line re­source bud­get’ for NHS Tay­side and NHS High­land had in­creased by .9 per cent. He added: ‘We have also in­creased fi­nan­cial flex­i­bil­i­ties for NHS boards so they can work to­wards a bal­anced and sus­tain­able fi­nan­cial po­si­tion.’

⬛ Scot­land needs at least 3 0 more NHS beds to avert a win­ter cri­sis, the Royal Col­lege of Emer­gency Medicine has warned. Of­fi­cial fig­ures show a 6 per cent fall in staffed hos­pi­tal beds since

013 to 13,105 last year.

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