THE Capital’s health and social care budget is heading for an overspend of more than £10 million, new figures reveal.
Projections show the Edinburgh Integration Joint Board (EIJB), which brings together the city’s NHS and council services, is set to exceed its budget by £6.7m in the period to the end of October 2018, and by £10.3m by the end of the financial year.
Conservative board member Councillor Susan Webber criticised plans to “massage” the figures by taking £1.3m out of EIJB reserves to reduce the overspend.
And she said fundamental change - such as increased use of “telecare” - was needed to tackle the financial pressures the board faced.
An update on the board’s financial position for its next meeting on Friday acknowledges only £9.7m savings are expected to be achieved out of a total requirement of £20.3m
And it shows the projected overspend is made up of more than £7m on council services and £3.2m on NHS services.
Cllr Webber said: “The financial challenges we face in the Edinburgh IJB are not showing any signs of improvement.
“This report looks to address the financial crisis by reallocating monies to make the financial outlook less grim and more palatable for the Scottish Government.
“However, the real crux of the matter is that we now find ourselves in a place where we cannot make the savings needed through efficiencies alone.
“The sheer scale and magnitude mean that the savings must come from fundamental transformational changes and the redesign of the services.
“From a council perspective I am yet to see any substantive evidence of the scale of change that is essential. And if changes have been taking place they not been going far enough and fast enough.”
She called for the Scottish Government to pass on in full the funding boost it received as a result of increased Westminster health spending.
But she said the EIJB needed to make fundamental changes such as more use of telecare, harnessing technology to improve services for patients.
Cllr Melanie Main, Green member of the IJB, said the acute pressures on health and social care services were well known, with care at home being the most serious.
She said: “I do believe there is a real commitment to getting budgets back in balance but these are lifeline services for our most vulnerable residents so there is still a big gap between the ambition and the reality. In the short term, more funding is inevitably going to be needed, so all eyes on the Scottish budget in a few days’ time. However, much more radical ideas are also needed to square the circle of rising demand and help for people to be cared for earlier and at homes or in community settings.”
EIJB chair Cllr Ricky Henderson said: “Work is ongoing to identify and develop further potential mitigating actions to reduce the projected overspend and to construct next year’s budget. This is monitored by the EIJB and further reports will be submitted to the Board and other relevant bodies in due course.”