The Scottish Government is bailing NHS Fife out of a £23 million blackhole this year with £10.2m in additional money from the UK’s HM Treasury. 

It’s a vast change from the financial position just a few months ago when the health board last met, although they're still unlikely to break even.

Since November, the board has warned about a £23m overspend by the end of March due to “significant pressures.”

Now, they're set to be in the red with a lower figure - £12.8m – but a report from Maxine Michie, NHS Fife’s deputy director of finance, said it’s still unlikely that the board will be able to balance the books without more help from the Scottish Government. 

“Current projections indicate an overspend against budget at the end of the financial year of £12.8m which is £2m more than our planned deficit but significantly less than our previously reported forecast outturn of £23m,” her report stated. 

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However, she continued: “It is [still] unlikely the board will be able to break even without brokerage support from the Scottish Government and significant improvement in the financial position between now and the financial year end.” 

Why has the position changed so suddenly? 

It mostly comes down to one off funding from the UK’s HM Treasury that’s being passed onto health boards by the Scottish Government, due to the confirmation of “additional consequentials funding”. 

The Scottish Government has also confirmed that health board contributions to the national Clinical Negligence and Other Risks Indemnity Scheme (CNORIS) will be reduced as well. 

This has taken an additional £2m worth of pressure from NHS Fife this year. 

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In total, these one off windfalls have reduced the projected budget gap by nearly half. 

The Scottish Government has confirmed that any board deficits reported at the end of the financial year will be “subject to repayable brokerage”. 

That means that the unexpected windfall has not changed NHS Fife’s requirement to break even by the end of the year. 

However Ms Michie's report - to be discussed to tomorrow's board meeting - says that it’s “unlikely” that NHS Fife will be able to do so without help from the Scottish Government or a serious improvement between now and the end of the month.