THE partnership which is responsible for providing health and social care services in Argyll and Bute has warned it may have to find savings of £14 million in the next financial year – and has acknowledged that the "pace of change" will cause "anxiety and concerns" for both NHS and council staff and local communities.

The Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership’s integrated board received an update on the partnership’s financial position last week after confirmation of the amount of money they will receive from Argyll and Bute Council and the Scottish Government in 2018-19.

Caroline Whyte, the HSCP’s chief financial officer, said: “The budget outlook report presented to the Integrated Joint Board (IJB) at the end of January estimated a requirement for the HSCP to deliver additional savings of £10.1m on top of the £8 million which was planned for in 2018-19.

“This position has improved following the Scottish Government’s budget approval and the local decisions made by our funding partners NHS Highland and Argyll and Bute Council re their respective budget allocations to the IJB.

“It is now estimated that the HSCP will be required to deliver additional savings of between £5m and £6m on top of the existing savings planned in 2018-19, therefore potentially savings totalling £14m to be delivered next year.

“While this improvement to the financial position is clearly welcomed the fact remains that we still have a very large budget gap and we will require to identify and deliver new savings as well as continuing to meet increasing demand for health and social care services and rising costs due to inflation."

The full financial position facing the Argyll and Bute IJB will be presented to the board's meeting on Wednesday, March 28.

Ms Whyte added: “Services are in the process of developing the service change proposals to be added to the plan to address the budget gap; however it is clear at this stage that some of those proposed service changes will not be in line with our Strategic Plan objectives.

“These will potentially pose the IJB with very difficult decisions to make with conflicting priorities in relation to maintaining quality of care, meeting treatment and waiting time performance standards and ensuring a balanced budget.

“Everyone is clear that to meet all the challenges facing the IJB we cannot continue to do things the same way, but we clearly need to increase the scale and pace of change to meet our objectives.

“The pace of change will cause some anxiety and concerns for our staff and local communities but we will continue to do more to explain why we need to make these changes happen.”