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NHS Grampian facing £100 million bill for Covid-19 response

Aberdeen Royal Infirmary
Aberdeen Royal Infirmary

The total bill for the north-east’s health service response to the Covid-19 pandemic is projected to hit £100 million, new documents show.

Papers from the most recent NHS Grampian board meeting claim the costs are due to the impact of the virus in the region and its plan to emerge from the pandemic.

But it is understood the sum also reflects Aberdeen’s first and second Covid-19 lockdowns.

A number of north-east opposition politicians last night pushed for the Scottish Government to refund the huge spend faced by the region.

One Aberdeen councillor claiming it would leave a “very big hole” in the NHS budget, if it is not reimbursed.

And she warned that could have a long-term impact on services that have already been stretched and delayed by coronavirus.

Discussions over the costs are currently “under review” by the Scottish Government.

NHS Grampian revealed the main outgoings were due to increased capacity in intensive care units, additional staffing, new Covid Hubs and the purchase of protective equipment.

It has also projected additional resources will be needed to fight the virus during winter, the Test and Protect programme and vaccination schemes.

A spokesman for NHS Grampian said: “Similar to all NHS boards across the UK, NHS Grampian was required to make significant adaptations to service delivery to deal with the immediate Covid-19 response and are now focused on the remobilisation of services in the immediate future.

“The estimated costs projected in the board’s remobilisation plan are subject to ongoing discussion with the Scottish Government and represent the resources that will be required in this financial year.”

Other health boards will also spend significant sums on their responses – according to the most recent NHS board papers, the Covid-19 spend reported by NHS Highland between April and June was £8.7m.

However, Aberdeen has faced a number of unique challenges after an outbreak at the Hawthorn Bar in early August saw hundreds of virus cases linked to the cluster, forcing the city into a second lockdown.

Sarah Duncan, Labour councillor for Aberdeen and chairwoman of the Aberdeen City Health and Social Care Partnership’s Integration Joint Board, said she is “expecting” the Scottish Government to reimburse all Covid-19 costs faced by NHS Grampian since March.

She added: “It’ll leave a very big hole in our budget if we are not reimbursed and that would have a long-term significant impact on the other services that we provide.”

North-east MSP Lewis Macdonald also called for the Scottish Government to “fully fund any additional expenditure NHS Grampian may require in the months ahead”.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “As the health secretary has made clear, the Scottish Government will provide the necessary funding across health and care services to recognise additional costs of responding to Covid-19, to support remobilisation of services, and to ensure that patient safety remains the top priority at all times, recognising the steps taken to ensure PPE supply from the NHS Scotland stockpile goes to social care providers.

“We are currently concluding a detailed review of the financial implications of Covid-19 across all NHS Boards and Integration Joint Boards.

“Following that, we will make a further funding allocation to support the health and care sector.”

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