THE Covid-19 pandemic is set to cost health and social care services in Argyll and Bute nearly £17.5 million, a report has revealed.

The head of finance and transformation at the Argyll and Bute health and social care partnership (HSCP) has also predicted that the impact of the outbreak will be felt for up to a year.

In a report for the partnership’s integration joint board (IJB), Judy Orr has forecast that nearly an extra £3.5m will be required to meet additional costs for externally provided services.

Additional temporary staff, overtime and community hubs are each predicted to carry a cost of more than £1m, while £5.8m of the anticipated total comes from underachievement of savings.

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The published figures are reported as being correct as of Tuesday, April 28.

The report was considered by members of the IJB when they met via Skype on Wednesday, May 27.

Ms Orr said: “Actual costs are being carefully tracked. Social care providers have been asked to invoice additional Covid-related costs separately and detailed guidance has been given to them on what type of additional costs (such as PPE, equipment and additional staffing) is expected.

“Care homes nationally are looking for funding of vacant beds due to closures, and this is being discussed nationally before the detail is agreed.

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“Direct costs for supplies and equipment are being charged to Covid cost centres.

“Where additional staff are being employed, and for additional hours over normal working, this is also being tracked through codes on time sheets and specific Covid approvals through workforce monitoring.

“There is some time lag before these costs are shown in the financial ledgers and the position on actual costs will not begin to be seen for a few weeks yet.

“The Scottish Government has in principle approved all mobilisation plans. Two meetings have been held with Scottish Government officials on our plan submissions but no individual lines have been formally approved.

“Nationally the Scottish Government has funding available of £600m plus £20m for hospices and it is understood that the submissions to date far exceed the funding available. Of course, actual costs may prove to be lower.

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“Regionally, it is planned to conduct some peer review and benchmarking but the arrangements for this are not yet final.”

Ms Orr’s report also said that initial funding of £50m nationally had been rubber-stamped by the Scottish Government, with the HSCP being allocated £903,000 of the pot.

She added: “It is clear that the length of time we will have to deal with the implications of this pandemic is extending into the next 12 months.

“This disease burden is part of the new activity ‘norm’ and we will have to focus on simultaneously managing Covid-19 whilst resuming routine, comprehensive health and social care.”

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