NHS Lothian facing £43.1 million black hole next year

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HEALTH bosses in Lothian are forecasting a £43 million black hole in their finances next year.

Amid continuing concerns about a failure to meet waiting time targets and a crisis in the Capital’s social care services, the board of NHS Lothian has been warned they are likely to end the current financial year overspending by £400,000 and then face a funding gap of £43.1m in 2019/20.

Hospital ERI Doctor Nurse Emergeny Department A&E. Pic: Greg Macvean

Hospital ERI Doctor Nurse Emergeny Department A&E. Pic: Greg Macvean

Board papers also reveal a bid for an extra £32m to help tackle waiting times was not accepted by the Scottish Government.

NHS Lothian, which has a budget of nearly £1.6bn, was recently revealed as the only health board in Scotland which failed to meet all eight national performance targets in 2017/18.

Lothian MSP and Tory health spokesman Miles Briggs said NHS Lothian’s financial position was “dire” and urged the Scottish Government to come up with more funding so waiting times and performance do not get even worse.

A report to the board on the financial outlook said its finance and resources committee had considered preliminary projections for 2019/20. “The paper highlighted a projected financial gap of £43.1m, based on an initial assessment of cost pressures and anticipated funding.”

In another report, the board was told: “As part of the annual operational plan submitted to the Scottish Government Health Department a capacity gap of £32m had been identified in acute services that had in part previously been addressed through the private sector as NHS Lothian did not have sufficient capacity.

“It was noted that a bid for this quantum had been made to the Scottish Government Health Department but had not been received.”

NHS Lothian finance director Susan Goldsmith said: “Our annual financial planning cycle includes an early assessment of the likely additional costs and funding the health board will have in the following year. An up-to-date assessment of any financial gap next year will be informed by the Scottish Budget.

“Separately, the board has undertaken an exercise to assess the cost implications of capacity required to deliver waiting times targets. We remain in discussion with Scottish Government colleagues following their recent announcement of additional funding for waiting times, to be confirmed in the Scottish Budget.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “This year NHS Lothian received a 3.1 per cent resource budget increase amounting to £41.8 million. In addition to this the board received £7.4 million to tackle waiting lists and a further £187,000 to introduce a sustainability plan.

“The board will also share £175 million to support health service reforms to meet the increasing demand and expectations placed on frontline services.”