Argyll and Bute’s Health And Social Care Partnership is making progress towards making savings as it aims to tackle a potential overspend of more than £5 million, a meeting has heard.
The integrated joint board (IJB), which runs the partnership, was told last week that while the financial picture facing health and social care in the area was “not a good one”, steps were being taken to improve matters.
As reported last week, a £4.3m overspend is currently being forecast by the partnership (HSCP), which may rise as high as £5.4m depending on a service level agreement with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC).
Savings have also been slow to the point where only 40 per cent of the target is set to be delivered in the current financial year – but some progress is felt to be being made.
Argyll and Bute Councillor Gary Mulvaney, a member of the IJB, praised the work of the authority’s head of finance, Kirsty Flanagan, who is currently in the same position for the HSCP on an interim basis. He said: “This paper went to the quality and financial board last week. The board has certainly had a thorough look through it and as a matter of record we should appreciate it.
“One thing that has caused frustration at previous meetings has been the difficulty in reading some of the financial papers. This doesn’t change the overall picture, which is not a good one, but when you see it like this, it is easier.
“The key things I take out will be the grip and control actions that the board are approving today. As Kirsty says, this is not just a one-week wonder – this is a continuous process to help improve the financial position.
“Although the outlook is not good there is a positive in that we have a better transparency and now that we have the grip and control we can look to move forward and see what difference it makes.”
At the meeting, Ms Flanagan explained why an overspend was projected when the HSCP was currently operating at an underspend of just over £500,000. The HSCP, run jointly by the council and NHS Highland, may face even further financial woe if an agreement is not reached with NHSGGC. She said: “The finances within the different organisations are managed differently. There is no right or wrong approach.
“There has been a lower than budgeted demand for care home services. The focus of attention needs to be on the full year position, so reporting an overspend of £4.3m is a deterioration on where we were at our November meeting.
“The main reason for this is difficulty in delivering over £7m worth of savings. There also remains a risk to the outturn in the SLA with NHSGGC.
“The board made the decision at the November meeting to reject the agreement and the overspend has been adjusted to reflect this. If this position is not accepted by NHSGGC, the overspend could increase by up to £1.1m.”
Councillor Mulvaney then proposed that a repayment plan from the HSCP to the council is deferred by a year.
This involves the authority being repaid any loss made by the HSCP over a three-year period, with £100,000 due in the first financial year, £400,000 in the second financial year, and the balance in year three.
Ms Flanagan said: “We should seek clarification but I think that would be a reasonable request.”
It was also advised that a job description has been finalised for a permanent head of finance with the HSCP and should be advertised soon.