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Knowledge Hub

Watchdog warns of serious financial problems at two Scottish health boards

Will reforms solve financial problems at NHS Highland and NHS Ayrshire and Arran?


Audit Scotland has warned of serious financial challenges at two more of Scotland’s 14 territorial health boards.


Auditor general Caroline Gardner said she had serious reservations about the ability of NHS Highland and NHS Ayrshire and Arran to make the changes required to achieve financial balance in the future.


NHS Ayrshire and Arran needed £23m in loan funding, known as brokerage, to cover costs in 2017/18 and is likely to need a further boost this year, with a projected shortfall of £22.4m.


NHS Highland required £15m brokerage last year and has an anticipated shortfall of between £19m and £23m this year.


Reports into the financial positions of both health boards express concerns about whether they will be able to achieve financial balance in the future as most of their savings have been from one-off sources. High prescribing costs are cited as part of the financial pressure in both reports.


The Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has announced a new financial deal for boards to allow longer-term planning. She also said that boards would not have to pay back brokerage loans given previously.


Further information

Audit Scotland: Auditor General reports on significant financial challenges at two NHS boards

Scottish Government: ‘New deal’ for NHS boards