Warning that health and social care cuts will impact the most vulnerable

Body in charge of commissioning care in Edinburgh agrees proposals to address its £60m budget deficit for the coming year.

“Heartbreaking” cuts to health and social care services in Edinburgh are likely to be replicated across Scotland in the coming weeks, campaigners have warned.

Edinburgh Integration Joint Board (EIJB) – the body in charge of commissioning care in the capital – has agreed proposals to address its £60m budget deficit for the coming year.

As part of its restructure to reduce care provision across Edinburgh, two care homes – Clovenstone and Ford’s Road – will close down permanently and see 68 residents moved elsewhere.

Furthermore, third sector organisations – including those providing day care for adults – will lose 10% of their funding.

One of the services under threat is the Ripple Project in the city’s Restalrig area.

“That 10% (funding cut) is the equivalent of us running our lunch club,” said Rachel Green, the director of the project.

The community organisation hosts a daily lunch club, providing a discounted, hot meal for people over 65 years old.

“It doesn’t make sense. If people don’t come here, they won’t come out of their house, they won’t see anybody. We would have to refer them to social care for some support at home. So that whole saving of 10% will actually cost the EIJB more. It’s not a saving.”

Ms Green says the lunch club is a lifeline for people feeling isolated or struggling with mental health in the community.

Restalrig local Ann Cullen told STV News. “If we lose this project, my mental health will go downhill. I don’t go out the house, but I come here two days a week. So if you take this away from everybody, I’m going to be housebound.”

‘My support was completely withdrawn’

Michael Baker from Edinburgh has a learning disability and used to receive eight hours of care a week. He needed help with reading, filling out forms and going to appointments.

But his support was completely withdrawn without warning in November 2023.

“I had nobody. I was going downhill, my partner was doing a lot and it might have affected my relationship,” he told STV News.

“They thought I could manage without. They treated me like I might have been able to manage myself but I couldn’t.

“I was angry, isolated and I felt like I was just wanting to do something and that was it.”

With help from campaigners he’s now had six hours of care reinstated. But worries about other people in a similar situation who have had their support withdrawn.

As other integrated joint boards look to balance their books in the coming weeks – all are grappling with the same challenge: how do we look after more older and vulnerable people, but for less?

Pat Togher, the chief executive of Edinburgh’s Health and Social Care Partnership, said “impactful cuts” need to be made as the organisation faces running at a deficit for another year.

He said: “Like health and social care integration authorities across Scotland, Edinburgh is facing unprecedent financial challenges and we are taking measures to ensure that we protect core services and return to a stable financial position.

“Despite the significant challenges posed by an estimated £60m pound budget deficit in the next year, we are implementing a package of reforms which will not only cut the structural deficit in a manageable way over the coming years, but will allow us to protect services for the people of Edinburgh.

“We are acutely aware of the impact these changes may have on the people of Edinburgh and staff, and we are taking measures to mitigate consequences.”

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