The financial cost of fighting coronavirus in Perth and Kinross could “significantly compromise” a planned review of mental health services, it has emerged.
More than £7 million is expected to be spent on a range of emergency measures, according to a study by a cash-strapped health partnership.
A large slice of the money – just over £3m – is likely to go towards taking on third party care providers, while about £100,000 has been spent on equipment including computers and PPE.
It is an extra strain for the Perth and Kinross Health and Social Care Partnership (PKHSCP), which was already grappling with major money problems before coronavirus hit.
The group has warned that being forced to dip into reserves could hamper the delivery of other projects, including much-needed improvements to mental health facilities.
The review follows a damning report by Dr David Strang, who identified scores of changes that need to be made and said a radical redesign was needed to repair a “breakdown of trust” between management, staff and the public.
In a report to go before members this week, PKHSCP officials say the coronavirus costs are an estimation while the actual figures are being finalised.
But they warn staffing costs could rise “significantly” as services try to return to normal, and there will be extra costs related to mental health support across the region.
The report shows a sum of £1.3 million due to a slippage in savings delivery, and about £700,000 caused by loss of income.
Additional staffing costs amount to around £900,000, while £200,000 is being spent on providing extra capacity in care homes.
Chief financial officer Jane Smith said: “The next period will undoubtedly present both continued and new cost pressures as either lockdown continues or restrictions have to be reconfigured.
“Whilst some costs are considered ‘one-off’, some of the financial implications will have far reaching and recurring consequences for health and social care partnerships.”
She said: “In particular, as the requirement to return to full service provision, our ability to redeploy staff to cover staff sickness will become limited and additional staffing costs are likely to increase significantly.
“This has not been accounted for in financial estimates.”
In December, the Perth and Kinross Integration Joint Board (IJB) which operates the partnership forecast a £3.8 million overspend.
The partnership is expected to get an initial advance of £1.4 million from the Scottish Government.
Ms Smith said: “The Scottish Government has indicated that both earmarked and un-earmarked reserves held by IJBs may be required to be released to offset additional Covid-related costs.
“This use of earmarked reserves in this way will significantly compromise the delivery of wider transformation commitments” including mental health improvement plans, she said.
“It is therefore imperative that any plans to utilise IJB reserves is not only fair and consistent with the use of reserves by other public bodies, but goes hand-in-hand with national agreement to suspend nationally driven modernisation programmes.”