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NHS faces rising costs

NHS Shetland chief executive Ralph Roberts.

NHS SHETLAND will have to find a way to cut its spending by around £4 million as rising costs continue to outstrip its funding.

The heath board’s core grant from the Scottish Government is only in line to increase by £700,000 over the next financial year, bringing the total settlement up to £46.5 million.

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Chief executive Ralph Roberts confirmed on Friday that costs are set to rise by an estimated £2.4 million, and with the health board already £1.8m over budget, it will now have to find ways to reduce costs by around £4m.

Around £600,000 of this relates to nationally agreed pay awards, while inflation, new and increased prescription of drugs and Shetland’s ageing population will also put pressure on finances.

“We are continuing to look at how we might achieve this and are currently planning to present a budget to our board meeting in February,” Roberts said.

NHS Shetland’s core funding increase was confirmed on Thursday in finance minister Derek Mackay’s draft budget.

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It suggested that the health board was in line to receive £3.9 million in additional funding, but Roberts said much of this was already taken in last year outside the normal allocation.

The health board also expects to receive around £400,000 as a share of a national £107 million fund for social care.

It will be passed to the Integrated Joint Board and it is expected to be used to offset increased costs in providing social care and the reduced revenue grant due to be received by Shetland Islands Council.

NHS Shetland also expects around to receive £10m of recurring funding for specific services such as public health and dental services. These budgets will not be finalised until January.

It is anticipated that this funding will be around the same level as 2016/17, but it won’t reflect inflation, meaning that increased costs related to the services will have to be met by savings elsewhere in the health board’s budget.

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