Joint board hears of ways to tackle funding crisis in social care services

Measures to close a funding gap faced by Shetland’s Integration Joint Board have been presented to members this week.

The board, which oversees community health and social care services provided by NHS Shetland and the SIC, had faced a funding shortfall of over £2.5 million when its budget was agreed in March.

NHS Shetland has since refined its budget, lowering the “efficiency target” of cuts to £2.331 million. On Tuesday members heard details of how management intends to breach that gap by £1.806 million.

This figure includes the assumption of an additional funding allocation from the Scottish government of £1.2 million. Other changes, such as a redesign in community nursing, are expected to add further savings.

Interim NHS Shetland chief executive Simon Bokor-Ingram said the board had faced funding challenges “since its inception” and warned that those challenges “aren’t going away”.

However, Mr Bokor-Ingram added that the board found itself in a better position than in previous years.

He said: “Overall there is, I think, a lower level of risk in my mind [compared with previous years] … but in terms of the gap that remains there will need to continue to be a drive to look at opportunities for transformational change.”

Elsewhere in the report members were also presented with four “spend to save” schemes to approve to help the board balance its books in future years.

These schemes would cost a total of £107,322 over three years and could potentially reduce the burden on certain parts of the health service.

One such project, proposed by Karen Smith of the mental health service, would see the roll-out of a stress control programme which could help people to “look after their own health and wellbeing”.

Another scheme involved placing physiotherapists in general practices in Lerwick and Scalloway to reduce the number of people seen by doctors for issues which would ultimately result in referral to the physiotherapy service.

• More in Friday’s Shetland Times.


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