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NHS Highland getting 'tailored financial support' to help cut estimated £55.7 million budget gap

By Scott Maclennan

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NHS Assynt House.Picture Gary Anthony.
NHS Assynt House.Picture Gary Anthony.

The Scottish Government is working with NHS Highland in a bid to draw down some of its estimated overspend which is expected to amount to £55.7 million by the end of the year.

It was confirmed at yesterday’s health board meeting that fresh analysis by the government is due to be delivered at the end of the month concerning the financial position which will include some “areas of opportunity” for savings.

The situation is serious enough 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.

So a new action plan to tackle the overspend this financial year as well as longer term proposals to make NHS Highland financially sustainable are being developed and are expected to be agreed by September.

The board previously had similar support when it was on the escalation framework, that was due largely to its bullying crisis but also to stabilise its finances – a condition from which it emerged last November.

The latest intervention comes after it was emerged that for the three months up to the end of June, an overspend against the year-to-date budget had hit more than £20.6 million.

A cost improvement programme of £29.5 million was presented to the government, leaving an outstanding gap of £68.7 million, and then with further government thencash of £14.7 million that was reduced to the £55.7 million figure.

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.”

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