Hopes have been raised that lessons learned during the coronavirus pandemic will help control spiralling care budgets in Moray.
Health and Social Care Moray has reported a £3million overspend for 2019/20 after initially expecting the books to be balanced.
Forecasts predict the overspend will continue into next year due to the pandemic affecting progress with a recovery and transformation plan to revamp services.
However, it is hoped the rapidly changing crisis has also provided opportunities for the organisation, which is a partnership jointly-funded by Moray Council and NHS Grampian, to learn how to tailor care for the future.
Shona Morrison, vice-chairwoman of the organisation’s integrated joint board (IJB), said: “One of the big things to have come from this Covid-19 time is that communities have really stepped up and the response has been phenomenal.
“We’re really grateful for that, going forward we might look at how to harness that and see how it could fit in with health and social care.
“There’s been more focus on digital services, which have been essential during this time and could play a big role in the future, particularly in rural parts of Moray and for people working two or three jobs.
“A lot of work was done at the beginning of the pandemic to free up beds in hospital too, which may also have benefits because there are advantages of getting care at home or close to home when it is appropriate.”
Reports produced for Health and Social Care Moray’s IJB reported the overspend on the £120million annual budget was reduced by a £960,000 grant from the Scottish Government.
The remaining balance will be covered by NHS Grampian paying £1.3million and Moray Council paying £760,000 on top of the payments already made by both at the start of the financial year.
The biggest overspend reported was in the care and assessment of pensioners and those with sensory disabilities, which went £1.8million above target.
Officers report the trend was an indication of the shifting trend for people to remain in their own homes for longer.
Learning disability support was overspent by £418,000 with community hospitals reporting a £370,000 overspend amid continuing staffing concerns.
In a report produced by Moray Council’s principal accountant Deborah O’Shea and NHS Grampian’s finance manager Bob Sivewright, warnings were made that the pandemic would delay savings expected to be made this year.
It states: “Whilst the 2020/21 revenue budget position presented a balanced budget position, it has been highlighted that due to the current pandemic, there are risks to the delivery of the recovery and transformation plan inherent in the budget setting.
“The estimated underachievement of savings has already been reported to Scottish Government and the senior management team are actively addressing the emerging situation to implement alternative measures to limit the financial pressure.”