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Health / Health and social care board estimating £5m overspend

St Ringan's council chamber. Photo: SIC

THE BOARD which oversees health and social care in Shetland is expected to be over budget by £5 million come the end of the financial year.

Most of this overspend for the integration joint board is through the extra cost of temporary staffing.

A savings target of three per cent is expected to be included in the board’s budget, which is due to be presented next month.

The board oversees health and social care services provided by NHS Shetland and Shetland Islands Council.

A report presented to a meeting of the board on Thursday said there is a projected overspend of nearly £3 million on the NHS Shetland arm of budget.

This is fully attributable to the additional cost of bringing in temporary staffing. However, this will be covered by a ring-fenced fund which was previously agreed during the budget setting process.

The council side of things is expecting an overspend of nearly £2 million.

This is due to the requirement for agency stuff amid recruitment and retention issues, increased demand for option one and two self-directed support packages and pay awards.

The council will provide an additional top-up payment at the end of the financial year to balance their side of the budget.

The report warns – as it has done in previous years – that relying on additional top-up payments is not sustainable and “must be addressed”.

A recovery plan has been implemented to reduce the projected overspend by just over £500,000.

Meanwhile the 2023/24 IJB budget and longer-term financial planning is expected to contain a “significant savings target” over a five year period.

The report, from chief financial officer Karl Williamson, concludes that the IJB must “work closely with its partners to redesign services, through its strategic planning process, which can be delivered within the sustainable financial resources available”.

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At Thursday’s meeting Williamson said among the savings proposed in 2023/24 include a review of self-directed support packages, recruit modern apprentices and the reduce community bed base in three care homes.

At an earlier IJB audit committee meeting councillor Robbie McGregor questioned if a three per cent target was achievable, if demand continues to rise on services.

Williamson said the three per cent is “extremely challenging” and said it was a “matter of doing the best we can” in 2023/24.

IJB chief officer Brian Chittick said it was a realistic target, but one that will be challenging to meet.

The chairman of the board’s audit committee Lincoln Carroll said concerns about staffing numbers and locums is a “national issue, it’s not just for Shetland”.

He also referenced a lack of accommodation for people wanting to come to Shetland for work.

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