Health and social care overspend increases again

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By a local democracy reporter

Argyll and Bute health chiefs have placed a ban on all non-essential expenditure amid fears that their overspend could reach more than £5million.

The integration joint board (IJB) which oversees the work of the Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) was due to discuss its financial position on Wednesday, January 30.

Papers for the meeting revealed the forecast overspend for the 2018/19 financial year is £4.3m – a £300,000 increase on the prediction reported at the board’s previous meeting in November.

And there are warnings that a further £1.1m could be added to that if NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde does not accept the HSCP’s stance on a service level agreement (SLA).

A report by interim chief financial officer Kirsty Flanagan said: ‘At the last IJB meeting a decision was made to reject the increase and the forecast out turn reflects this position.

‘While there has been variations across the month, the overall HSCP overspend is currently forecasting a similar level of overspend to that reported six months ago in June.

‘This is extremely disappointing and demonstrates that there has either been increased demand and/or a lack of control over expenditure.

‘It is unlikely at this stage that the HSCP will achieve financial balance by the end of the financial year and it will therefore need to look to its partner bodies for additional funding.’

Argyll and Bute Council leader Aileen Morton, a member of the IJB, welcomed measures that are being taken to bridge the gap.

She said: ‘The council has been aware of the risk of an overspend by the HSCP for a number of months.

‘While it is disappointing that the partnership is unlikely to achieve financial balance this year, it’s not a surprise at this point.

‘I’m aware that substantial steps are being taken by both health and social work services to try and bring the overspend down, and that determination to get the situation under control is welcome.

‘The council will need to consider funding implications later in the year once the final position is known.’

Ms Flanagan detailed the measures that are being taken to reduce the overspend, including further liaison on the SLA, a ‘greater grip’ on outstanding social work costs, and a daily review of expenditure.