Union warns health services in city reaching breaking point

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Health services in the Capital are approaching “breaking point” union leaders warned today after it was revealed NHS Lothian is facing another multi-million-pound funding gap.

The health board, which has already saved £90 million in the last 24 months, is being forced to find another £27m of savings in the current financial year.

NHS Lothian has claimed that the savings can be made by increasing efficiency and productivity, but patients’ groups and unions say care could be hit.

Senior sources said recent cuts had left staff increasingly stretched but fresh cutbacks to the nursing budget – potentially resulting in ward closures – could not be ruled out. Other cost- cutting measures could include bringing forward the closure of Corstorphine and Astley Ainslie hospitals. News of the funding gap came after it was revealed last month that the waiting lists scandal could cost a further £9m to sort out.

Tom Waterson, chair of Unison’s Scottish health committee, said: “These year-on-year savings are ultimately going to lead to a reduction in patient care or cleanliness.

“We are getting to the point when we will no longer be able to cut any more.”

Susan Goldsmith, NHS Lothian’s director of finance, said plans were in place to save the £27m, including by cutting staff costs.