St Andrews QV has recently reported on proposals being considered by Fife’s Integrated Joint Board (IJB), for deep cuts in the Health and Social Care budget.
Prior to yesterday’s meeting of the Board, at which the 2019/20 budget for Health and Social Care was set, Conservative Group Leader Dave Dempsey lambasted the IJB, saying: “Once again the IJB is going through the doomed process of setting a budget which does not and cannot balance. IJBs were set up to do two things: create a seamless health and social care capability that would deliver more for less; and solve the problem of bed-blocking. Fife IJB has done neither.
Ultimately the responsibility for this situation sits with the SNP Scottish Government who introduced IJBs and have significantly underfunded them every year since their introduction. This is entirely deliberate as the Conservative Government at Westminster recently announced a £2 billion Barnett windfall* for the NHS in Scotland for the rest of this parliament – the biggest cash injection any Scottish Government has ever received – which the SNP is refusing to pass on.”
Cllr Tony Miklinski, who sits on the IJB, commented “When we are still facing a budget gap of over £6 million, even if we take all the cuts proposed, this is plainly an incompetent budget. The bottom line is that a flawed budget process combined with drastic structural underfunding dooms the IJB to failure. The thousands of Fifers who rely on social and health services as well as its hard-pressed staff deserve better.
This is why I am proposing that we don’t set a budget but seek instead an urgent meeting with the Health Secretary Jeane Freeman to enable the IJB to access the extra funding from Westminster which will allow the IJB to balance its books.” This latter suggestion was dismissed as “ludicrous” by Fife Council’s co-leader David Alexander (SNP), who branded it a stunt.
In the event, the IJB agreed the budget which will lead to £8.4 million in savings but rejected plans to close two council run care homes. However, two day care centres will close in north east Fife – the Leng in Newport and St David’s in St Andrews, which are underused and in need of extensive repairs. Alternative buildings will be found to house all service users and assurances were given nothing would happen until everyone affected had been consulted.