The projected deficit for health and social care costs in the Capital has risen to £9 million as the system lurches into crisis.
With over 2,200 people either waiting for an assessment for care at home or assessed as needing support, the effects of chronic underfunding are starting to hit home.
Despite the deficit rising by a further £2 million and a damning recent report by the Care Inspectorate exposing a string of failings in care for the elderly across the city, council chief Adam McVey denies there is a crisis.
Cllr McVey is on record as saying “there is a challenge in service delivery. I don’t accept the service is in crisis”.
Hold-ups in delivering home care are also being blamed for almost 200 people being stuck in hospital when they are well enough to be discharged.
A recruitment crisis means thousands of job vacancies remain unfilled as people choose to earn more money walking dogs or working as supermarket assistants than caring for the elderly.
The £9m funding hole came to light in a revenue budget report in which the Edinburgh Health and Social Care revised their year end projections for March 2018 from £7.1m to £9.1m.
Michelle Miller, interim chief officer for the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “It is an accepted fact across the UK and in Scotland that the demand for social care services is increasing faster than the resources available to meet that demand. Funding remains a key issue, along with workforce capacity, and there is an ongoing conversation across all levels of government regarding how we deliver a sustainable model.
“In my current role as interim chief officer – Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership, I am focused on ensuring that we deliver an effective and efficient service that maximises the return for every pound we spend.”
In May a report by the Care Inspectorate revealed some patients were forced to wait for 100 days without support.
Five out of nine important aspects of care provision were rated “unsatisfactory” or “weak”.
Green finance spokesperson Cllr Gavin Corbett predicted the deficit is set to rise and called on the Scottish Government to act.
He said: “Less than halfway through the financial year, the council is already looking at a £9m hole in its health and social care budget. As the council moves to increase the number of people getting a care at home package, which is urgently needed, that hole will get even bigger.
“It is the consequence of having to operate on what is, in effect, a standstill budget for an area of growing demand. Two pressing actions are needed. The first is to get ahead with some of the savings that have already been agreed, painful although they might be. But the second is for the Scottish Government to take real heed as it ponders its budget for next year: if Scotland, as a nation wants decent social care, we need to be prepared to invest in it.”
Labour MSP Daniel Johnson, said: “The black hole in the health and social care budget lays bare the realities of the savage cuts the SNP have made to local authority budgets.
“My constituents have contacted me desperate for their relatives to be given a care package, but the council simply don’t have the resources to deal with demand. The consequences are increased pressure on the NHS and some of our most vulnerable citizens suffering.”