Mediator for health/social care funds row

Councillor Brian McGinley.
Councillor Brian McGinley.

NHS and council bosses are still at loggerheads over who should cover a £3.3 million health and social care debt and mediators have been called in to resolve the matter.

Services for the elderly, and looked after children placements, have plunged the health and social care partnership’s budget into the red and South Ayrshire Council’s leadership panel agreed to cover a third of the overspend but want NHS Ayshire & Arran to share the cost with South Ayrshire Council.

However, health board chair Martin Cheyne says that the overspend took place within the council’s social care services in the current financial year.

The dispute will now go before independent mediators to decide who pays what.

Dr Cheyne said: “These budgets reside with the local authority and the NHS has no locus on these overspends.”

In the mean-time the council will loan the money to the South Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership, which is responsible for the debt. The partnership is jointly run by NHS Ayrshire & Arran and South Ayrshire Council.

The partnership’s Integration Joint Board agreed to ask for the debt to be divided between the health board and the local authority at a meeting this month.

Councillor William Grant who sits on the Integration Joint Board said: “It will go to mediators to find out who should be paying. In the short-time the council will lend the money. It has to be paid back in four years. It is not going to be left. It has to be dealt with.

“I can understand the NHS response. They say the majority of it was caused by children’s services. They don’t think they are responsible for that.”

Integration Joint Board vice chair Councillor Brian McGinley said the board cannot afford to overspend again.

He added: “The Health and Social Care Partnership is operating within an extremely tough financial climate like other public bodies.

“Bringing in a balanced budget is a priority because the board will have to live within its allocated and generated resources.

“To be successful this will mean redesigning services, curtailing rising demands and managing expectations to make the necessary savings and bring the budget in on balance.”

A report to the council is already predicting a funding shortfall of £8.2 million for the next financial year starting in April. An SOS budget working group has been set up to urgently find ways to make savings.