‘Unexpected’ £800,000 hole in Fife health budget revealed - and who will have to plug it

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It’s come out of left field, according to NHS Fife’s finance director, but Fife Health and Social Care Partnership is looking at an unexpected £847,000 blackhole for the end of the financial year.

The partnership has already used up nearly all of its reserves this year, so now it’ll be up for Fife Council and NHS Fife to balance the books.

“The Health and Social Care Integration Joint Board (IJB) position deteriorated in the final month of the financial year,” Margo McGurk, NHS Fife’s director of finance and strategy told the local health board last week.

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“That has required additional allocation and contributions from both partners.”

The overspend was revealed this week (Pic: FFP archives)The overspend was revealed this week (Pic: FFP archives)
The overspend was revealed this week (Pic: FFP archives)

According to an agenda report from the IJB, the overspend will require approximately £500,000 from NHS Fife and around £300,000 from Fife Council.

The report continued: “Currently the key areas of overspend are: hospital and long term care; GP prescribing; family health services; older people residential and daycare; older people nursing and residential; homecare; adult placements; and social care other.”

Ms McGurk told the board that it was “a bit of a surprise” the extent to which the social care budget was overspent for 2023/24.

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“We’re carrying out due diligence as to why that happened,” she said. “I think there are a range of reasons. Reserves have had to be used in full which means the IJB has a funding challenge going into this year.”

Nicky Connor, director of Fife Health and Social Care Partnership added: “It was unexpected and it's a discussion we’ll be having with the IJB later this week. It’s been described as an increased social care spend and a reporting issue. It was not predicted.”

That discussion with the IJB was expected to take place at the IJB board meeting last Friday, but it was ultimately postponed.

A spokesperson for the IJB said “further information” has been confirmed “which may change the financial position”.

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“A decision was made to remove the report from the IJB agenda and a revised report will be brought back to an extraordinary meeting of the IJB through the appropriate governance routes. Board approval will then be sought for the final recommendations at that time,” the statement continued.

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