Cash-strapped NHS Tayside will have to cut almost £100 million from its budget over the next three years, board leaders have admitted.
Bosses have unveiled a radical plan to save cash and cut waiting times as they attempt to repair the board’s public image.
Chairman John Brown and chief executive Grant Archibald want to trim £96.9 million from the health board’s coffers and have 100% of inpatients seen on time by March 2022.
Mr Brown told an NHS board meeting he was “very pleased” with the plans, adding: “What I particularly like is the way we’ve broken down the challenges.
“That was something missing when I first arrived here – this is our starting point for the next three years.”
Mr Archibald added: “What we’re seeking to do is fill out the plan and the challenges as we go.
“There are aspects that remain work-in-progress but this is where we get started. This board has an objective to live within its means within three years and that’s what we’re going to do.”
As of last December just two thirds of inpatients or day cases had started treatment within the 12 week “treatment time guarantee” (TTG) target.
Performance against the TTG in Tayside has been in decline since a peak in September 2015, when 90.5% of patients started treatment within the target time.
Tayside bosses want 100% of inpatients treated in 12 weeks.
They aim to gradually do this by looking at how demand shifts over time and by seeking funding to cover areas of treatment under the most strain.
Hazel Scott, assistant chief executive, said the plan was a “quite significant piece of work”.
NHS Tayside’s senior managers have also been tasked with achieving financial balance as part of a new long-term monetary plan.
The three-year strategy will become a standard measure for Tayside to measure itself against.
Senior board members insisted NHS Tayside was “getting a better grip” on finances.
Last year Tayside and a number of other Scottish boards had their debts “written off” by the Holyrood government.
Stuart Lyall, deputy director of finance, had warned of a deficit of £18.7m at the end of March.
At the most recent board meeting he revealed it had weathered problems – including the “inappropriate” transfer of £3.6m of charitable endowment funds to the health board’s coffers, which it has to repay now.
He said: “We’re expecting an overspend for 12 months (the 2018-19 year) of £17.3m – including £3.6m endowment repayment.
“Overall it’s a good news story. We’re moving in the right direction, the signs are encouraging.”
The board will aim to trim £96.9 million through its on-going Transforming Tayside programme, which aims to reduce reliance on hospital stays.
Bosses also want to tackle bottlenecks in hospitals, aiming to avoid keeping people in wards when they’re ready to go home.
The charity scandal prompted the then health secretary, Shona Robison MSP, to ask former chairman John Connell to stand down. Subsequently, chief executive Lesley Mclay went on long-term sick leave, before leaving the board in August last year.