Almost 200 jobs are set to be slashed and £21m of cuts, which put “citizens in danger”, are on the table as Glasgow’s health and social care services look to plug a £40m funding gap.
The package of savings and increased charges will go before the Glasgow City Integration Joint Board (IJB) on Wednesday, when members will also be asked to take £17m from reserves to help fund services.
Trade unions are set to protest outside Glasgow’s health and social care partnership (HSCP) headquarters ahead of the meeting, as they fear the proposed cuts could breach statutory obligations to provide services.
The IJB – a partnership between the council and NHS, which directs the HSCP – is facing “unprecedented” financial pressures, a report to members states.
Funding allocations from the council and NHS “do not fully meet these pressures”, it adds, but the board has a “statutory duty” to deliver a balanced budget for 2023/24.
Proposed savings could see a budget for care home beds for older people, a “key enabler of hospital discharge”, cut by £2m.
It has been reported that demand is not at pre-pandemic levels, however there is “a real risk if demand recovers” that people would be put on waiting lists.
More than 50 jobs across community health teams could be cut, impacting a range of services, including mental health, addiction, sexual health, homelessness and psychological services.
It would save £3.79m but have an “adverse” impact on services already dealing with “unprecedented” demand.
Self-directed support budgets for adults and older people are set to be slashed by £2.3m, affecting around 73 people per year who would need to wait up to 13 months to receive a support package.
The move would mean there will be no funding to provide “packages of care for young people with complex needs who are transitioning to adult services”.
Care at Home and home care services are also in line for cuts, with a reduction of 3,200 hours per week. The change, to save £900,000, would mean a waiting list of around 300 “vulnerable citizens”.
A service for children affected by parental addiction could be decommissioned to save £350,000. It would be replaced with an approach which works “alongside families to deliver meaningful change”.
Around £1.6m is expected to be saved by reducing the number of purchased fostering placements by ten, and out-of-authority placements by five.
It is claimed the reduction is part of an “ongoing objective” to “shift the spend from funding placements outwith the city and reinvest in early intervention and prevention approaches”.
Staff in this area could also be cut, with the removal of seven roles saving £400,000.
Care home placements for patients who no longer need to be in hospital but aren’t ready to return home could be reduced by 15 beds to save £600,000. Officers have warned any reduction “increases the risk of delayed discharge”.
Some of the most severe cuts are set to be agreed in principle, ahead of engagement with service users, and will be reported to the next IJB meeting in May.
These include the reduction in care at home and home care services and to self-directed support budgets.
Staff cuts will initially be covered by not filling vacancies and redeploying workers, then through voluntary redundancies and early retirements.
The report recognises savings create a risk of not being able to meet statutory obligations, but there are “no other options available to the IJB given the funding available and the pressures being faced”.
Unions want the eight Glasgow councillors on the board to refuse to pass the cuts. Chris Sermanni, from UNISON, said social care services were “already at crisis point” and more cuts will “come with dire consequences”.
“Glasgow needs more workers, not less,” he said.
GMB organiser Sean Baillie added: “We are now in a position where our members will not be able to deliver statutory services, destroying the lives of the most vulnerable in our city.”
Cllr Lana Reid-McConnell, Greens, an IJB board member, said reserves would be “drained” under the proposals, but the £21m of savings would “still breach statutory requirements, harming the most vulnerable in our city”.
They would also add further pressure to “working conditions that are already causing staff to burn out”, she said. “Continuous cuts to health and social care are putting our citizens in danger along with our workers, our infrastructure and services.”
A HSCP spokesman said: “The pressure on public service budgets is significant – and high inflation means that this year has been a particular challenge.
“Officers have worked hard to bring forward a balanced budget that, wherever possible, minimises the impact on services and invests in priorities which board members will consider.”
The report estimates funding gaps of £45m and £19m in 2024/25 and 2025/26, and warns of the “greatest financial challenge that the IJB has been asked to manage since its inception”.