THE Cabinet Secretary for Health has acknowledged, in answer to a question from Fife MSP Alex Rowley, that the Integrated Joint Board (IJB) responsible for health and social care services ranging from GP services, mental health to social care at home, is underfunded.

Referring specifically to Fife Integration Joint Board, Jean Freeman MSP said: “The IJB started off on a poor footing and needs joint assistance from us in order to help move it forward”.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament Kelty based MSP, Mr Rowley told the Cabinet Secretary: “In Fife, I believe that the IJB was set up to fail, because it started its working life with a deficit”.

He asked: “Will the Cabinet Secretary agree to start discussion with NHS Fife and Fife Council, and will she look in to giving the health and social care partnership proper financial stability?”

Speaking afterwords Mr Rowley said: “I am pleased that the Government is acknowledging there is a funding problem in Fife health and social care. "People stuck in hospitals know this, people struggling to get a care package know it and people trying to access mental health care know it, so it is good the Government now know, but we do need the Fife IJB to be put on a proper financial footing, given it is currently running a deficit of over £6 million.

“Community Care must never be about care on the cheap and as more and more people are being supported and cared for at home, in the community and in care facilities the funding must follow the person. It is far less expensive to care for someone in the community than in a hospital but that care must be of the best quality to meet the needs of the individual and right now Fife IJB is struggling”.

Mr Rowley has now written to the Director of Health and Social Care in Fife, Mr Michael Kellet, seeking a meeting and is calling for full transparency on the current budget and the shortfall.