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Health / Government provides £4m towards health board’s Covid costs

NHS Shetland has been allocated £4 million from the Scottish Government so far to cover the costs of the response to Covid-19 – with more expected in the future.

A meeting of the health board heard on Tuesday that the current projected revenue cost for the Covid-19 response including expenditure incurred by the isles’ integration joint board for social care is £7.7 million.

A report from finance director Colin Marsland said that NHS Shetland is one of five health boards in Scotland where the current cost of the Covid-19 response is greater than the allocation.

“Scottish Government is planning further discussions with these boards,” his report said.

“These five boards are being asked to review and confirm forecast costs.”

Overall at October NHS Shetland’s finances showed an overspend of £1.9 million.

This figure factored in additional costs from Covid-19, as well as the Scottish Government funding received to date.

The health board has been at the forefront of Shetland’s response to the pandemic, with significant areas of outlay including extra staff time, infrastructure and PPE.

NHS Shetland board members, meanwhile, approved an increase in funding of between £21,000 and £40,000 to appoint a consultant paediatrician.

It comes as the current GP with specialist interest, Susan Bowie, is due to retire from her current outpatient paediatric work in April.

Board members were told there was “no obvious local solution”.

A report on the subject said that “taking into account the gaps in the current child health service in Shetland it is felt that a dedicated local, clinical lead role is required”.

Chair of the area partnership forum Ian Sandilands raised concern that like in previous attempts to employ consultants the health board might have to fall back on expensive locums if the recruitment process was unsuccessful.

Medical director Kirsty Brightwell said if the post was not filled then there could be discussions over continuing the current arrangement.

But she said the health board was “optimistic” there are people waiting in the wings who might apply.

Board chairman Gary Robinson said there has actually been an “upturn in the number of applicants for recent posts”.

The meeting also heard that officials are continuing to work on different models in a bid to reduce the reliance on temporary locum staff, with the Rediscover the Joy project one example of a recent initiative which is bearing fruit.