NHS Fife faces battle to meet £10m deficit

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NHS Fife may be facing a financial black hole after admitting it will struggle to meet required cuts of over £10 million this coming year.

The perilous health of Fife’s accounts reveal the region was forced to borrow £1.5 million from next year’s government funds to balance the books this year.

I am very concerned at the way NHS Fife is managing the budget

Alex Rowley MSP

To date, bosses on the board have devised a £8.45m savings plan for 2015/16 but admit almost half of schemes identified have a “high risk” of not being realised.

And that still leaves a £1.69 million headache to account for in any case.

Chris Bowring, NHS Fife director of finance, said: “The level of risk assigned to delivery in general is attributed to the likely timescale for achievement, especially in areas such as disposal of assets.”

Her comments come after the Scottish Government rejected a local delivery plan designed by NHS Fife to close a £4.7m funding gap.

Fife was forced to go back to the drawing board and submit another.

But, in finance committee minutes published last week, John Paterson, chairman of the acute services division warned “if performance did not improve from current in some key areas this could lead to additional overspends and a wider gap than currently calculated.”

This week, Dr Brian Montgomery, who will depart as NHS Fife’s interim chief executive in June, said “While 2015/16 will be challenging, the public can be reassured that NHS Fife will continue to deliver the required efficiences with no adverse impact on frontline services.”

MSP Alex Rowley however is less convinced and has written to Health Secretary Shona Robison.

He said: “I am very concerned at the way NHS Fife is managing the budget and I am worried bringing forward in excess of £1.5 million from next year’s budget to balance the books in this year is just storing the problems up.

“I think the alarm bells should be ringing given the projected shortfalls within the budget and the acknowledgment that more than £10 million of cuts required for next year will be very difficult to achieve.”