NHS Tayside faces going back to the Scottish Government with a begging bowl for the fourth year in a row after running up another multi-million-pound deficit.
It emerged the health board overspent its budget by more than £11 million up to the end of January as local politicians prepared for a short notice meeting with bosses today.
A £14.2m Scottish Government bailout was needed just to break even last year and it was provided at a time when another £800,000 remained outstanding from previous loans.
Now a bombshell report to the joint board reveals: “NHS Tayside is reporting an overspend of £11.207m for the 10 months to 31 January, 2016, (last month £10.241m).
“The performance is above the trajectory included in the Strategic Financial Plan, and compares with an overspend of £6.383m for the same period last financial year.”
There is a possibility the problems will be even greater than the published figures, given they only run to the end of January and the financial year continues for a further two months.
Pay accounted for £9.4m of the overspend, with prescriptions going £3.6m above budget.
Almost £5.1m was clawed back through “committed earmarks” but it was not enough to address the deficit.
A damning report by Auditor General for Scotland Caroline Gardner, released last year, showed “key areas” for that period’s overspend included matching Scottish Government policies of treatment time guarantees, as well as “prescribing and workforce pressures”.
Auditors found overspends on staffing, holiday pay and primary care prescribing left NHS Tayside relying on loans for the third year in a row.
As well as repaying the loan, they warned the board would need to make savings of £27m in 2015/16.
NHS Tayside received £8m on March 27 last year but requested a further £6.2m just three months later following an accounting adjustment.
When her report was published, Ms Gardner warned there was a risk the board would not break even in 2015/16 as it continued to rely on asset sales to address its cash issues.
It was also tasked with finding £27m in savings, on top of the loan paybacks.
Local MSPs and MPs were invited to attend a meeting with senior figures at NHS Tayside earlier this week.
Such gatherings happen at regular intervals throughout the year but are usually arranged well in advance.
The health board suggested this was another routine meeting, with the last minute preparations being down to finding space in participants’ diaries.
Two of the MSPs invited, however, said they only received their invitations “out of the blue” a few days ago without prior consultation on their availability.
Health Secretary Shona Robison will likely be at the gathering through her role as Dundee City East MSP.