Health and social care deficit hits £9m at Edinburgh council

City of Edinburgh Council has faced criticism over unfilled vacancies
City of Edinburgh Council has faced criticism over unfilled vacancies
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The projected deficit for health and social care costs has risen to £9m at one of Scotland’s largest councils.

With over 2,200 people either waiting for an assessment for care at home or assessed as needing support, the effects of chronic underfunding in Edinburgh are starting to hit home.

Despite the deficit rising by a further £2 million and a damning report by the Care Inspectorate exposing a string of failings in care for the elderly across the city, council chief Adam McVey denies there is a crisis.

Hold-ups in delivering home care are also being blamed for almost 200 people being stuck in hospital when they are well enough to be discharged.

A recruitment crisis means thousands of job vacancies remain unfilled as people choose to earn more money walking dogs or working as supermarket assistants than care for the elderly. The £9m funding hole came to light in a revenue budget report in which the Edinburgh Health and Social Care revised their year end projections for March 2018 from £7.1m to £9.1m.

Michelle Miller, Interim Chief Officer for the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership said: “It is an accepted fact across the UK and in Scotland that the demand for social care services is increasing faster than the resources available to meet that demand. Funding remains a key issue, along with workforce capacity, and there is an ongoing conversation across all levels of government regarding how we deliver a sustainable model.”

Green finance spokesperson Cllr Gavin Corbett said the deficit was likely to grow.

He said: “Less than halfway through the financial year, the council is already looking at a £9m hole in its health and social care budget. As the council moves to increase the number of people getting a care at home package, which is urgently needed, that hole will get even bigger.

“It is the consequence of having to operate on what is, in effect, a standstill budget for an area of growing demand.”

In May a report by the Care Inspectorate revealed some patients were forced to wait for 100 days without support.

Labour MSP Daniel Johnson, said: “The black hole in the health and social care budget lays bare the realities of the savage cuts the SNP have made to local authority budgets.”