Four Scottish NHS boards in need of government loans this year

NHS Borders is one of the four health boards. Picture: Stuart Cobley
NHS Borders is one of the four health boards. Picture: Stuart Cobley
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Four health boards will require Government loans to balance their budgets this year, ministers have confirmed.

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NHS boards are currently forecasting a funding gap of £131.5 million by the end of 2018/19, with a current deficit of £34.6 million.

The Scottish Government said the gap is expected to reduce throughout the financial year as boards find areas for further savings.

As part of annual financial plans, they have already identified a requirement to save a total of £488 million to balance their books.

However four boards - Tayside, Ayrshire and Arran, Highland and Borders - will require two to three years to return to financial balance, and therefore anticipate the need for £70.9 million worth of loans, known as brokerage.

The financial position of all 22 NHS boards was collated and published by the Government following the scandal at NHS Tayside.

Former health secretary Shona Robison was forced to step in when it was revealed the cash-strapped board had used charity cash to fund new technology, leading to the chairman and chief executive being replaced.

She said there was no evidence to suggest other boards had misused endowment funding, however the crisis prompted calls for greater transparency.

While all health boards publish their financial position locally, the Government pledged to publish details of all boards every month.

Incoming Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “Scotland’s health service is receiving record funding that is providing historically high numbers of doctors, nurses and dentists, plus a proposed pay deal for the majority of staff that is the highest in the UK.

“There is rising demand on our NHS, with increased expectations and an ageing population, so it is crucial we have a transparent and open approach to finances.

“I expect all health boards to continue to develop their plans and work towards delivering a balanced financial position over the course of the remaining financial year, while ensuring they provide safe and effective care and deliver best value for money.”

Scottish Labour health spokesman Anas Sarwar said: “This report confirms what SNP ministers are desperately trying to hide - Scotland’s NHS is underfunded, staff are undervalued and the health service desperately needs to be under new management.

“We are only two months into the financial year and Scotland’s health boards are already £34 million in the red - with a projected funding gap of £131 million for the year.

“As the NHS approaches its 70th birthday, it is clearer than ever that the service needs better support.”

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