Scottish NHS needs to take longer-term view
By Vivienne Russell | 25 October 2012
The NHS in Scotland ended last year in surplus but needs to focus more on long-term financial planning, auditors said today.
All 23 health boards met their financial targets for the fourth consecutive year and collectively reported a £13.4m surplus against total spending of £10.9bn, according to Audit Scotland’s NHS financial performance 2011/12
However, auditor general Caroline Gardner said that the picture of good financial performance shown in the annual accounts did not reflect the pressure health boards faced in achieving this.
‘Money was moved between boards, several relied on non-recurring savings, and some needed extra help from the Scottish Government to break even.’
She added that the requirement on boards to break even encouraged a short-term view. ‘The NHS needs to increase its focus on longer-term financial planning.’
Due to continuing cost pressures, health boards say they have to find savings of £271.7m in the current financial year. Although all are predicting that they will meet this target, Audit Scotland warns that it might become harder to achieve. Some boards face cuts of more than 20%, the level considered ‘high risk’.
The report also noted that capital budgets were falling, which reduces boards’ ability to invest in new ways of working and maintain buildings and equipment.