NHS 24 and NHS Tayside cash problems ‘impacting on services’
Scottish health board financial shortfalls are creating lasting problems, warns Auditor General in stark assessment of budgets
Hospital - PA
Money problems at two health boards are having an impact on the way they deliver services, Scotland’s spending watchdog has warned.
Audit Scotland has reported that NHS 24’s problematic £132m IT upgrade is now running 73 per cent over budget, while NHS Tayside faces a budget deficit of more than £11.6m this year.
The report follows a warning from Audit Scotland this time last year that the health boards were struggling to be sustainable without government assistance.
NHS Tayside has received £24.3m in financial support from the Scottish Government over the last four years in order to break even.
Delays to NHS24’s new IT system have also “created risks to the board's ability to meet future financial targets,” the report said.
Auditor General Caroline Gardner said: “Each of these health boards is experiencing prolonged and considerable challenges which continue to have an impact on the way they operate and deliver services.
"While action is under way to try and address these issues, there's no quick fix available and recovery will take time.
“It's important that the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government closely monitor progress, to ensure circumstances do not worsen, to the detriment of staff and service users."
NHS24’s new IT system is now not expected to be available until at least the end of next year.
NHS Tayside said it was building a five-year programme of change.
Scottish Labour complained that the report was released moments after parliament broke for recess.
Health spokesperson Anas Sarwar said it was a “brutal” report for Health Secretary Shona Robison, with “huge cuts” to come in Tayside.
“The SNP Health minister has spent all summer denying that our NHS faces cuts, denying that staff are under pressure, and claiming our NHS has enough resources, only to have her claims blown out of the water by her own health board,” he said.
Scottish Green health spokesperson Alison Johnstone said the IT troubles at NHS24 added to issues with the system which failed to deliver farmers’ payments and the scrapping of Police Scotland’s IT upgrade.
“The public need assurances from the health board and Scottish Ministers that getting a robust, dependable telephone and online NHS 24 system is a priority, and once this has happened we need a thorough review of what went wrong to prevent a repeat,” she said.
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