Health and social care services in the Capital are facing cuts of £3 million despite struggling to cope with the demands for home care packages for hundreds of older people.
The Evening News can reveal plans by the council’s finance and resources committee to make swingeing cuts in the care budget for 2018-19 as part of a targeted £24m saving across the city council.
This comes as Health Secretary Shona Robison last week slammed delays in securing care packages for patients across the region, saying council and NHS Lothian chiefs are a “considerable distance” from meeting their target.
The cuts come in the midst of a crisis in the Capital with 1,836 people still waiting to be assessed for care provision, including 700 who have not yet received care packages and 169 people delayed in hospital.
A scathing Care Inspectorate investigation last May into the quality of care provision found five out of nine factors of care that were rated “unsatisfactory” or “weak” while the projected deficit for health and social care costs rose to £9m in September.
The savings including £1.1m relating to disability day services, discretionary expenditure and legal services. Planned improvements targeted to save money are a roll out of telecare services, reducing reliance on care at home and support services. Staff numbers, care charges and services that include homecare and grants are also under review, as are supplies and procurement.
Scottish Greens Cllr Melanie Main, said the council and NHS Lothian were “simply robbing Peter to pay Paul”.
She added: “The £3m cut is part of a bigger package of savings of £24m which the council needs to make next year. With that scale of shortfall it is hard to see any service area untouched.
“However, there is pressure on the health and social care budget and so much unmet need that there is a risk that savings targets can’t be met.
“The £3m saving itself is simply the recycling of a cut that was supposed to happen earlier. So, once again, it suggests that health and social care budgets are chronically under-funded and need action at a national level.
“Without that action the council and NHS Lothian are simply robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
The interim chief officer of the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership, Michelle Miller, has said the health and social care system is underfunded for the level of need expressed. The £3m savings would represent around 1.6 per cent of this year’s health and social care budget.
Shadow Health Secretary, Miles Briggs said: “Given pressures being faced by health and social care the proposed cuts are arguably unachievable. We should be ensuring the jobs of social care professionals are more manageable, not more difficult.”