The advisory group appointed to tackle the financial crisis at NHS Tayside has said the health board is successfully cutting spending but warns efforts will have to be redoubled next year.
Sir Lewis Ritchie was appointed in March last year to head up the Assurance Advisory Group, which was tasked with helping NHS Tayside find the £175 million in savings over five years it needs to balance its books.
The health board, which has received more than £24 million worth of bailouts from the Scottish Government, is predicting an end of financial year deficit of £5.5 million, down from the £13.3 million deficit predicted in July.
To break even in 2018/19 another £44.5 million of savings must be found.
In a report to Paul Gray, director general of health and social care and chief executive of NHS Scotland, Sir Lewis warns it may be harder for the health board to find those savings.
He said: “The positive movement in the projected financial out-turn should be seen in the light of the anticipated level of savings required to move towards financial breakeven in 2018/19, currently assessed at £44.5m.
“Given that the majority of current year savings ( around 65%) are expected to be non-recurring, a similar level of effort will be required in the next financial year and beyond.”
The second progress report compiled by the Assurance and Advisory Group found NHS Tayside has “realistic and credible” plans in place to meet to return to financial balance.
But it warns: “The return of NHS Tayside to sustainable financial balance, which is not reliant on short terms measures or non-recurring efficiencies will only be achieved through transformational change.”
It noted a decrease in the use of agency staff and a 0.5% reduction in the amount of medicines being prescribed,
Scottish Government health secretary and Dundee City East MPS Shona Robison said: “It is clear progress is being made towards financial balance and I would like to thank everyone involved for their on-going efforts. The report shows the quality of care delivered to patients remains at the heart of the Health Board’s long-term plans.”
Chief Executive of NHS Tayside Lesley McLay said: “Over the past two years, NHS Tayside has achieved efficiency savings of around £45 million each year.
“It is right that these savings were made because as a healthcare system we were spending too much in some areas and we were not as efficient as we should have been.
“This achievement has been the result of an unprecedented joint effort from all staff and, most importantly, we did it together without compromising patient safety and care.”