Firm brought in to help NHS Borders balance the books

Jane Davidson, Joe Fitzpatrick MSP, John Raine and Shirley Rogers at NHS Borders' annual review this week.
Jane Davidson, Joe Fitzpatrick MSP, John Raine and Shirley Rogers at NHS Borders' annual review this week.

NHS Borders bosses are confident they will have its finances back in the black within the next two years.

That assurance was given at the organisation’s annual review in Galashiels this week, days after consultants were brought in to help the ailing health board balance its books.

Management consultants Bold Revolutions have been brought in to work with NHS Borders as part of a “support package” being put in place by the Scottish government.

The Manchester firm’s involvement follows a £10m bail out from Holyrood in June last year when NHS Borders was one of four organisations in need of “brokerage” to fill funding gaps of £71m between them.

At the time, NHS Borders admitted it faced a range of challenges in balancing the books and Carol Gillie, director of finance, told MSPs that the board was likely to require loans from the government for a number of years.

She could not specify how long it would take before the region’s health services was out of the red.

But on Tuesday, John Raine, chairman of NHS Borders, delivered more optimistic news to the public meeting, saying: “I am pretty confident we should be back in to financial balance within the next two years.”

The specialist consultancy firm, whose support has been secured and funded centrally, will provide specialist advice to help turn around the health board’s financial fortunes.

The board also announced it will submit its 2019/20 financial plan to the Scottish Government next month.

An NHS Borders spokeswoman said: “As part of NHS Borders’ financial turnaround programme, we have been working closely with Scottish Government to develop a tailored package of support. With this increased support from Scottish government, we should produce a workable financial plan going forward that will make best use of our resources.

“A specialist consultancy, Bold Revolutions, will support our senior management and clinicians to address the challenges we face while maintaining a focus on safe, quality patient care.

“The overall purpose of this team is to provide additional capacity and specialist advice to drive the cost savings of the turnaround programme. The turnaround support team will work with NHS Borders management to deliver a plan for sustainable financial balance.

“A financial plan for 2019/20 will be submitted to Scottish Government in April 2019. We expect a three-year financial plan to be submitted to Scottish Government by August 2019.

“It remains the board’s responsibility to deliver safe, quality health care we can afford. Hence it will always be for the board to consider and adopt any recommendations from our support team.”#

NHS Borders is currently rated at stage four, five being the most serious in terms of risk, within the NHS ratings system.

It was put into special measures by ministers last winter.

That applies when NHS trust have serious problems and are in need of interventions to remedy its problems within a reasonable time frame.

In December, the Scottish Government said it would invest an additional £430m to support frontline NHS boards in 2019/20.