News round-up / NHS over budget and air traffic concern

NHS Shetland is continuing discussions with the Scottish Government over its financial position as it faces a predicted end-of-year overspend of £3 million.

A report presented to a meeting of the health board on Tuesday reiterated that a reliance on locum staff is hitting the bank balance hard, with 94 per cent of the overspend in 2018/19 to date – £2 million – down to securing temporary workers amid recruitment difficulties.

NHS Shetland chiefs have already met with the Scottish Government health finance and infrastructure directorate to discuss the board’s financial position – with short-term brokerage loan funding potentially on the cards.

Chief executive Ralph Roberts told members of the board that he does not expect anything “fundamentally different” when the Scottish Government presents its budget for 2019/20 on 12 December.

He added that the focus needs to be on how the health board can create a “sustainable, long-term solution”.

Director of community health and social care Simon Bokor-Ingram said officers are intending to present a report on primary care to the NHS/council partnership Integration Joint Board in January.

He admitted things are not sustainable at the moment. “Long term use of locums is not desirable,” Bokor-Ingram said.

NORTHERN Isles MP Alistair Carmichael says he wants to get local air traffic controllers involved in discussions about centralising Highlands and Islands Airports Limited’s (HIAL) air traffic management to Inverness.

Carmichael, as well as other MPs, met with HIAL chairwoman Lorna Jack last week to discuss the proposal which could see the removal of air traffic controllers from the region’s small airports by the end of next decade.

“HIAL have offered to engage with me and my parliamentary colleagues throughout this process. I want to see that same level of engagement with air traffic control staff. They must be at the heart of this process,” he said.

“They have now got as far as appointing a project manager who, it is claimed, is independent of the rest of the HIAL management.

“In accepting the offer of the HIAL board to meet with the project manager I am clear that any such meeting must involve local air traffic controllers.

“I still have big concerns around the technological and connectivity viability of this plan, let alone the safety implications, and will continue to make the case to the HIAL board at our meeting before the end of the year.”