Scottish Government could intervene over 'deteriorating' NHS board finances

NHS Orkney has blamed a projected £6m overspend on costs involved in hiring locum and agency staff.

The Scottish Government could intervene amid NHS Orkney’s “deteriorating” finances after the health board announced a projected overspend of £6m for the financial year.

NHS Orkney blamed the overspend on obtaining more locum and agency staff than expected.

It added that there was an increased cost in contracts it has with other health boards to provide services to patients.

As a result, NHS Orkney has been moved to stage three of NHS Scotland’s Support and Intervention Framework, which provides a higher level of support to the health board.

However, the chief executive of NHS Orkney told STV News that the health board welcomed the support.

Laura Skaife-Knight said: “Patient safety and delivering high quality care is our top priority first and foremost.

“But also I want to reassure our local community that we are doing everything we can to spend and use our resources wisely and deliver the best possible financial results we can.”

If the situation does not improve, the health board may have to report directly to the Scottish Government’s assurance board, with potential for ministers to intervene in the running of NHS Orkney.

The health secretary said that support was there to help meet the financial challenges NHS Orkney is facing.

Michael Matheson told STV News: “The escalation process is a recognition on our part that they are facing some challenges.

“They’re one of the smaller health boards, which means that they have less financial flexibility than some of our larger health boards.

“So what we want to do is to help to support them in meeting those financial challenges, and that’s why we’ve escalated them to level three, to help to provide them the support for that.”

NHS Orkney joins NHS Tayside and NHS Highland, who are also at level three.

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