Councillors and health officials were this morning locked in behind closed doors discussions in an effort to wrestle with funding shortages.
The troubled integration joint board, created as part of the Scottish government’s national push to integrate council services and NHS care, is attempting to bridge a funding gap brought on by a shortfall in funding from NHS Shetland.
Both the council and NHS Shetland will provide funding towards the joint board’s budget of £45 million. The SIC will match the £20.5 million requested of them but NHS Shetland has provided only £21.8 million of the £24.3 million asked of them.
Discussing the budget before members of the public were ejected from the meeting financial officer Karl Williamson noted that the board had to find an extra £2.5 million to meet its budget requirements for the coming financial year.
He said that there were a number of options open to the board to meet that target, ranging from “high to low risk”. Those options were to be the subject of the private talks.
Mr Williamson noted that today’s meeting was the last chance for the board to “possibly negotiate a position with the SIC” but later admitted that given the imminent pre-election period the time frame was troublingly tight.
Chief officer Simon Bokor-Ingram said that there was less “money available for both the council and the health board in the real terms” and that the joint board found itself as one of “three parts in this, trying to grapple with this.”
He added: “We will need to take further difficult decisions about change.”
• More to follow in next week’s <i>Shetland Times</i>.