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NHS Highland fears it is already facing a massive £55.7 million overspend this year

By Scott Maclennan

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NHS Highland is predicting that it will face a massive overspend of £55.7 million by the end of the year.

For the three months up to the end of June, the health board has overspent against the year-to-date budget by more than £20.6 million.

A cost improvement programme of £29.5 million was presented to the Scottish Government, leaving a residual gap of £68.7 million, with the government then allocating further funding of £14.7 million to reduce the gap.

The situation is serious enough that it was confirmed that the Scottish Government “recognising the size of the financial challenge the board faces” has provided “tailored financial support” to help the board review and reduce recurrent costs.

The biggest sources of the year-end overspend are the Highland Health and Social Care Partnership – £5 million; acute services – £15.5 million; and support services – £34.3 million.

By going over budget by £4 million the Highland Health and Social Care Partnership is already well into its projected total overspend while acute services has already hit £6.4 million and support services hit £9.5 million.

Finance manager Alison Rodgers said: “There is a risk NHS Highland will overspend on its 2023/2024 revenue budget by more than £55.788 million in this forecast as this assumes the cost improvement programme is delivered in full.

“The forecast is also dependent on assumptions around funding and expenditure. The board continues to look for opportunities both locally and nationally to bring the recurrent cost base down.

“NHS Highland submitted a financial plan to Scottish Government for the 2023/2024 financial year in March 2023. An initial budget gap of £98.172 million was presented with a Cost Improvement Programme of £29.5 million proposed, leaving a residual gap of £68.672 million.

“Scottish Government have now allocated further funding for 2023/2024 of £14.673 million to support the financial position to reduce the funding gap.”

She added the Scottish Government was providing some “tailored financial support to assist the board” because it recognises the challenge.

Details will be presented to NHS Highland board members today.

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