Edinburgh councillor wants 'early-warning system' for healthcare finance woes to stop 'ambush'
COUNCILLORS should have an "early-warning radar system" to detect financial pressures in the Capital's healthcare services after the authority was asked to cough up £7.5m of funding to balance the books last year.
The Edinburgh Integration Joint Board (IJB) still has a funding gap this year of £7.15m, despite being five months into the financial year -while savings of around £11m have already been identified.
But Labour Cllr Gordon Munro has called for an early alarm for the authority after a combined £10.5m by the city council and NHS Lothian was needed to bail out the services at the end of the last financial year.
"Given the size and the scale of what we are talking about here and it is a significant risk issue for us, I wonder how we can have a report mechanism that gives us an early-warning radar system for potential issues here.
"We need to look at that quite carefully so we don't get ambushed with a big bill when we are trying to set our budget."
Nick Bennett, who helped audit the council's accounts, has also raised concerns that there is "a risk that the budget for adult social care is insufficient to deliver the level of improvement required".
"My biggest concern is probably around health and social care and the fact that the EIJB still has a budget deficit five months into the financial year. That is a concern.
"There are savings targets to be met, you still have a deficit within the EIJB. There will be pressures going forward. Our general concern with the EIJB generally is that progress has been quite slow in addressing the issues that challenge it. I do have more comfort that the EIJB is addressing that now."