Cash-strapped NHS Tayside set to ask ministers for an extra £1m

The meeting at King’s Cross Hospital

NHS Tayside is set to ask Scottish Government ministers for an extra £1 million of aid after revealing it is behind on its savings plan.

At a meeting of the health board at King’s Cross Hospital in Dundee, finance director Lindsay Bedford announced the service was set to spend £5m more than it had in its budget.

The health board was already expecting to spend £4m more than it had and had been granted a “brokerage” loan from the Scottish Government to cover this additional cost.

Ministers had signed off the loan and even suspended repayments to ease health chiefs’ worries but it now appears this was not enough.

As of the end of January, the service was £6.27m over budget, meaning it has to save more than £1m plus recieve £1m from the government in just three months in order to even remotely balance the books.

Chief executive Lesley McLay said: “We said we would require £4m brokerage, but we are £1m short in terms of that achievement. We’re doing everything we can.”

Lesley McLay

The majority of the board agreed to allow health bosses to appeal to ministers. However, Dr Andrew Cowie, vice-chair of the Tayside Local Medical Committee, blasted the move, saying asking for more money was “inappropriate”.

Expressing fears over where the cuts would come in order to even meet the £5m target, he said: “I don’t expect this to be the way we do things. This is not the way to tackle our overspend problem. My proposal would be to say to the Scottish Government that our funding is not enough. If they’re not happy, they can sack us.”

Significant drains on the health service include pay — which has cost £5m more than expected so far in 2017/18 — and prescribing costs, which have racked up an additional £3.6m of spending over set targets.

Ms McLay explained much of the additional cost had been expended on agency staff brought in during the winter, when an unexpected bout on influenza put additional strain on the health service.

However, plans to make £47.8m of efficiency savings this year are currently £1.8m behind schedule.

Labour MSP Jenny Marra said: “Yet again, NHS Tayside managers have had to go back to the Scottish Government for another bail-out because they cannot get their act together.

“This financial mismanagement must not have an impact on patient care.

“Management must ensure that patients and staff don’t suffer the consequences of their incompetence.”