Scots NHS services face £143m cost overruns

A&E at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Picture: Greg Macvean
A&E at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Picture: Greg Macvean
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Vital NHS services in Scotland are facing £143 million in cost overruns and may need a bailout to plug a funding black hole, the public spending watchdog has today warned.

NHS Tayside is facing an £11.6 million funding shortfall this year and has no plans in place to "fully address this gap", a report by Audit Scotland has warned.

Auditor General Caroline Gardner warns of significant issues today

Auditor General Caroline Gardner warns of significant issues today

And an under fire IT system at NHS 24 has seen it's overrun increase to £131.2 million - more than 70% above the original budget - and jeopardising future financial targets.

Auditor general Caroline Gardener has now taken the step of alerting the Scottish Parliament to the "significant issues" which have arisen from her annual review of each organisation's accounts.

Ms Gardner said: "Each of these health boards is experiencing prolonged and considerable challenges which continue to have an impact on the way they operate and deliver services.

"While action is under way to try and address these issues, there's no quick fix available and recovery will take time. It's important that the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government closely monitor progress, to ensure circumstances do not worsen, to the detriment of staff and service users."

The looming deficit of £11.6 million at NHS Tayside comes despite the health board being bailed out to the tune of £24.3 million in recent years. It still has to repay this and meet an an "unprecedented" savings target of £58.4 million for 2016/17.

"Based on its financial performance to date, there is a significant risk it will require financial aid again in order to break even," today's report warns.

NHS 24's new IT system has been beset by overruns in recent years. In June the body said it had reached £113 million, but that figure has risen again.

"Failure to launch the system successfully and additional double running costs have meant the total projected cost of the programme will be £131.2 million - 73 per cent higher than the original business case." today's report says.

"The delays have also created risks to the board's ability to meet future financial targets."