NHS Western Isles (NHSWI) has backed an action plan to avoid a projected £663k overspend of its budget.
A report that went before NHSWI’s board meeting this week detailed a raft of increased costs that were pushing budgets into the red.
These included the high cost of new medicines, the cost of bank, agency staff and over-time payments to cover services with high levels of vacancies, staff sickness and absence, and locum medics for on-call and out-of-hours services.
The extra costs incurred as a result of delayed discharges from hospital were also highlghted in the report, along with the growing cost of specialist off-island placements for patients with complex mental health needs.
The board was told by senior finance staff that measures in the action plan were focussed on achieveing savings and efficiencies in ‘back office’ budgets rather than from front-line patient care, and that measures, including increased ‘governance controls’ in areas such as the booking of agency staff were being put in place.
Also among the savings detailed in the action plan is a move to secure £30k of savings from staff travel booking and admin fees, with plans to book flights and hotels directly with Loganair and accommodation providers, and £125k from the greater use of ‘digital means’ to provide ‘out consultations closer to a patient’s home and improving ‘patient experience’.
In a statement issued before the board meeting, NHSWI stated that, “in common with other Health Boards across Scotland it experiences cost pressures on an on-going basis”, and said: “We are required to manage the delivery of services within the budget we have been allocated, and to find more efficient methods of delivering that service.”