Health bosses declare overspend of nearly £2.5 million

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Health chiefs in Argyll and Bute are set to declare an end-of-year overspend of nearly £2.5 million as a dispute over service levels remains unresolved.

The area’s health and social care partnership (HSCP) has announced in a report that its outturn position for 2019/20 includes a provision of £1.32 million for health services.

This is due to an impasse over a service level agreement with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC), which provides services at hospitals in Alexandria, Greenock, Paisley and Glasgow to people who live within the Argyll and Bute area.

Also included is a £1.16 million overspend on social work.

If a deal been reached with NHSGGC over the service level agreement, the total overspend would have been £1.12 million.

The HSCP’s integration joint board (IJB) considered the paper at a meeting which was conducted by Skype on Wednesday May 27.

The report, by head of finance and transformation Judy Orr, said: ‘It is clear that the failure to deliver on all savings is the key driver in the outturn overspend of £2.446 million, apart from the dispute with NHSGGC.

‘As nearly all these savings are being carried forward to next year, it is imperative that efforts to deliver the previously agreed savings are continued.

‘Although we now have permanent heads of service in post across all areas which will assist, efforts are now being hampered by the need to prioritise responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘Where we can, we will ensure that actions for COVID-19 are aligned and capitalised on such as increasing use of Near Me.’

Near Me is a video consulting service operated by NHS Highland which aims to provide outpatient consultations as close to home as possible.

One of the recommendations in the report asked board members to instruct the chief officer Joanna McDonald to bring back further information on the negotiations within NHSGGC for board approval.

During discussion on the paper, Argyll and Bute Council leader Aileen Morton said: ‘I am glad to see further negotiations as reading other papers, I wondered what was happening with that.

‘I know the last couple of months have not really been the time, but it does need to continue.’

Councillor Kieron Green, the Integrated Joint Board’s chairman, said: ‘It is a question of realism about how hard we can push for it at this time.’

Ms Orr replied: ‘This is delegated to the two chief officers, and we need to progress that with the directors of finance. But the urgency of it has had to be deferred while we are continuing to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.’