U-turn over bed blocking funds

In a surprising twist to the saga of the bed blocking crisis NHS Fife and Fife Council have both done dramatic U-turns on funding to tackle the problem.

On Tuesday NHS Fife revealed it would overspend its budget in order to provide the extra £138,000 to Fife Council’s social work budget to help the local authority provide for elderly people who are well enough to leave hospital but unable to be released due to a lack of resources to care for them, as well as other factors.

Previously NHS Fife had said it was unable to raise more than £112,000, which the Council matched, despite having previously agreed to make up to £250,000 available.

However, Fife Council has now agreed to match the full £250,000, meaning that half a million pounds has been raised to alleviate the crisis.

Professor Jim McGoldrick, chairman of NHS Fife, said that the existing situation could not be allowed to continue, and the funding was aimed specifically at looking after people in their communities rather than in nursing homes.

However, he warned that cuts would have to be made elsewhere within the health authority.

He said: “It is right that we look at all avenues to address this problem, ensuring we put the interests of the people of Fife first.

“This inevitably means shifting resources from one area to the other in the short term; allied to the longer term work of reshaping care for older people.

“As a result of this additional funding, NHS Fife will have to deliver savings elsewhere to achieve a break-even position at the end of the financial year.”

Peter Grant, leader of Fife Council, added: “In the short term, this additional funding will help staff working on the frontline to access the right people, at the right time and in the right place as they care for the most frail and vulnerable in our community.”

However, leader of the opposition Alex Rowley asked why NHS Fife had withheld the money.

Councillor Rowley said: “If the chief executive and chairman of NHS Fife have been pulling the wool over our eyes while our elderly are trapped in hospital they should consider their position.”