NHS Highland’s finance chief has revealed that the authority still faces a £2.3million funding gap despite identifying £26.5million of savings.
At its last meeting in April the board approved a revenue budget for 2016-17 and was told that savings of £28.8million were required.
Finance director Nick Kenton described this as “the most challenging savings target that the board has ever faced”.
Within this budget, about £13million of savings had been identified “with a relatively high degree of confidence” and a further £11.7million of “opportunities” had been identified, leaving a gap of £4.1million.
He will run through the revised savings proposals next Tuesday during a board meeting.
Mr Kenton will tell the board that several initiatives are being taken across Scotland that could help to reduce that savings gap by about £1.8million. He adds that there are further national initiatives that could provide benefit but these are yet to be quantified.
The director will also set a national context for the board’s savings targets, explaining that on average boards require cash savings of about 5% – roughly double the requirement for the previous financial year.
He will add that since the last board meeting “good progress” has been in identifying “further everyday quality improvement efficiencies”, totalling £8.1million.
Mr Kenton will then explain a range of cost-cutting measures that could be taken. Examples include reducing acute hospital patients’ length of stay by half a day which could save £2.8million, as well as small reductions in length of stay at community hospitals by 24.3 days to 22.3 days which could save £2.5million.
In his report Mr Kenton states: “Therefore, a relatively small change of length of stay has a potential benefit of over £5million. These figures exclude the Rural General Hospitals and mental health inpatient facilities.”
The director will also suggest that reducing the number of new and return out-patient appointments – respectively 73,000 and 140,000 in 2015-16 – by just 2% could yield more than £0.6million.