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Board may borrow to make ends meet

Gilbert Bain Hospital
Gilbert Bain Hospital.

SHETLAND’s health board may go to the Scottish Government to seek “brokerage”, or loan funding, to plug a gap in finances projected to be £3 million by the end of the year.

It would be the first time NHS Shetland has failed to live within its budget, the board heard at a meeting on Tuesday.

According to a quarterly financial report three-quarters of the overspend, £928,000, is due to staffing costs – principally locum cover.

It says that it “is very likely to be a tough and challenging year in respect of the overall statutory financial obligation to breakeven” and that “funding does not cover the current service models”.

The board has already overspent by £1.24m for the year to date – nine per cent over budget, with the projected annual £3m overspend a “best case” scenario..

NHS Shetland chief executive Ralph Roberts said that service re-design had not delivered any savings yet and that the board and Scottish Government were to review the situation after the second quarter of the financial year.

This could include talks on borrowing money that would have to be paid back once savings are made in the cost of running the local health service.

“The position does not look too bad compared to other health boards,” said Roberts, who added that it was nonetheless going to be a very challenging position.