A Fife health authority has been slammed as “not financially sustainable” as it attempts to plug a £11 million funding gap.
Audit Scotland criticised the Fife Health and Social Care Partnership’s Integrated Joint Board (IJB) for having no long term financial plan and said a “robust recovery plan” is required.
The IJB faces slashing funding for adult care packages despite patients being unable to be discharged from hospital while waiting for arrangements to be made for care in the community.
When the IJB met on Tuesday, NHS Fife medical director Chris McKenna said Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy is already under “the greatest pressure” and looking after people in an “inappropriate environment” was more expensive.
He said: “I think our acute hospital is really under the greatest pressure.
“We have to ensure we are applying the right strategy so we are looking after people in the right environment.
“There’s no point in achieving savings in an area which will result in keeping people in more expensive environments for longer, which is currently what we’re doing.”
Taking into account figures for June this year, adult packages were the key area of overspend in the partnership’s budget. It had approved a deficit of £6.5m.
However, the projected overspend above the approved deficit was £4.7m, making a total overspend of £11.2m.
Of this, there was a £3.7m overspend on adult packages, with demand outstripping resources and the IJB financial report stating this demand “is likely to rise throughout the year”.
The Audit Scotland report said the IJB failed to set a balanced budget for the last financial year and “continues to depend on additional year-end funding from NHS Fife and Fife Council”.
In addition to criticising the IJB for lacking a long term financial plan, the report said: “It is clear that the IJB is not financially stable and is unlikely to achieve financial
stability in the medium term.”
A new director of health and social care is expected to be appointed at the end of October.
In the interim, the position has been filled by Nicky Connor, who said work is under way to address the funding challenges.
She said a “whole system approach” was being taken to meet the aim of caring for people in the right setting.
The meeting heard the partnership’s senior leadership team was developing a medium term financial strategy, which will be considered by the IJB in November.
Chief finance officer Audrey Valente said: “We’re looking at a £11m overspend at this moment in time.
“To expand on home care would add to that overspend. What we’re trying to do is reduce spending in some areas to be able to make that a priority for us.
“But we’ve no reserves in the partnership so we can’t use reserves to fund these areas.”