Health and care funding crisis – getting a grip

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Frustration was evident at the latest meeting of the board overseeing the region’s health and social care services.

At Argyll and Bute Council headquarters in Lochgilphead on January 30, the Integration Joint Board (IJB) heard that savings measures have been slow to achieve, though members praised a new financial reporting process.

A £4.398m overspend is currently being forecast by Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) for 2018/19, which may rise as high as £5.5m depending on a service level agreement with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

Argyll and Bute Council’s head of strategic finance Kirsty Flanagan is interim chief financial officer for the HSCP.

Mrs Flanagan told IJB members, which oversees the Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP): ‘It is really disappointing to note that this is a deterioration in the position reported to the board in November, when it was £4.006 million.

‘The main reason for the overspend relates to a shortfall in delivering the 2018/19 savings.

She stressed, however, the risk connected to the HSCP’s service level agreement with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

Mrs Flanagan continued: ‘At the IJB meeting on September 26 the board instructed officers to put in place measures to minimise discretionary spend. While this was communicated to staff, the figures you have before you, I would suggest that they have been largely ineffective.

‘For this reason, along with the financial situation NHS Highland finds itself in, we are implementing a range of further measures known as Grip and Control. This will take a great deal of time and effort and the measures will be in place until we see an improvement.’

IJB member and Argyll and Bute councillor Gary Mulvaney complimented Mrs Flanagan on the quality of financial information now available to the board. He commented: ‘It doesn’t change the overall picture, which is not good, but at least the clarity of information makes it easier for the IJB to monitor the situation.’