South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has urged the Scottish Government to support our NHS or risk serious issues in future, after it was revealed NHS Dumfries and Galloway is facing an almost £16m overspend – even if it receives funding to cover the cost of tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.

A meeting of Dumfries and Galloway NHS board discussed the matter on Monday. Papers stated: “The Quarter One review of the financial position has now been concluded with the Board’s forecast revenue position a £15.715m overspend. 

“This assumes that funding is received to support the additional costs of the Covid-19 crisis, remobilisation and the impact of slippage on savings plans as a result of Covid-19.”

The papers went on to state that unless funding is received for the additional costs incurred due to the pandemic, the overspend could be as high as £38.340m, and describes the reasons behind the extra spending stating:

“Covid-19 costs mainly reflect the costs of managing the initial Covid-19 crisis with most of those costs incurred in the four months of 2020/21 (£4.525m to month 4).  These are projected to increase to £7.886m by March 2021. Costs primarily relate to equipment, IT, additional staffing costs, Community Assessment Hubs and payments to FHS contractors. Costs are also net of any offsets which total £3m in the forecast position which mainly relate to the reduction in elective work and switching off of services during the crisis period.”

Local MSP Colin Smyth said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has hit every aspect of our lives, but it is our NHS which has borne the brunt of managing this terrible virus. While Dumfries and Galloway has not seen as many cases as some feared we would suffer, it was only right that the health board was prepared for the worst, in line with government guidance.

“However, this has left our already hard-pressed NHS in an even more difficult financial situation. Even if the costs to the local NHS for the pandemic so far are fully reimbursed by the Government, they still face a nearly £16m shortfall. This shows that our NHS suffered from a lack of funding before the pandemic hit.

“As the number of cases continues to rise again, not only will this have a health impact on communities but will increase the financial challenges facing the NHS. Covid-19 has not gone away and the NHS still faces a long journey ahead, which means it must be in a good financial situation.

“How can our health service continue its critical day-to-day work, while also staying alert for further Covid-19 outbreaks, as well as dealing with these financial pressures? It is hugely unfair to expect it and the Scottish Government must do all it can to help by properly funding our NHS and giving staff the resources they need.”

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