£9bn health care budget planning slated

Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA
Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA
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A hard-hitting report from the Auditor General for Scotland on health and social care integration has found that financial planning of the £9 billion budget is not focused on providing the best outcomes for people who need support.

The flagship initiative was introduced by the Scottish Government in 2016, with 31 Integration Authorities (IAs) established through partnerships between the 14 NHS boards and 32 councils in Scotland.

The IAs are responsible for health and social care resources that include discharging people from hospital to be cared for at home or in a community setting.

A key message contained in the report by the Auditor General for Scotland and the Accounts Commission is that financial planning is ‘not integrated, long term or focused on providing the best outcomes for people who need support’.

The report calls for better collaboration needed to deliver health and social care integration and although it notes ‘some progress’ it describes the remaining challenges as significant.

Integration Authorities are collectively responsible for almost £9bn of health and social care spending and the report notes that – ‘the context for integration is increasingly challenging with rising demand for services and mounting financial pressures on councils and NHS Boards’.

Caroline Gardner, Auditor General, said: “All partners, at a national and local level, need to work together to ensure the successful delivery of integrated health and social care services in Scotland.

“This will allow people to receive the care they need at the right time and in the right setting, with a focus on community-based, preventative care.”

Graham Sharp, Chair, Accounts Commission said: “There are examples of integrated health and social care services making a positive difference to people’s lives, but these tend to be local and small scale. The potential for a profound and long-term shift in the way health and social care services are delivered is clear, but there is still a long way to go.”

The report warns that IAs needed to achieve £222.5 million in savings in 2017/18, an increase of 8.4 percent on the previous year, and many needed to seek additional funds.

Shadow Health Secretary Miles Briggs MSP said: “This is a damning report from the Auditor General into how financial planning is being undertaken within health and social care integration. It reflects the concerns the Scottish Conservatives have been expressing for many months.”

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “We recognise the report’s conclusions that, while we are already seeing improvements in terms of the balance of care in communities and hospitals, we have more to do with our partners in local government, the NHS and Integration Authorities.”