THE Fife Health and Social Care Partnership will make cuts, redesign services and use their savings to try and plug a £39 million hole in their finances.

But the plans will also mean the charges for services like Meals on Wheels, community alarms and supported living rents will rise, there'll be less money spent on mental health services and cleaning operations in care homes will be reduced.  

The partnership will set their budget on Thursday for 2024-25 and said it will take £12m of efficiencies, £6.4m of service redesign, £15m of previously approved savings and the use of reserves to balance the books.

It is jointly funded by Fife Council and NHS Fife, and it is responsible for overseeing the funding and delivery of health and social care services that are delegated to it – such as social work and community health services. 

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A report by director Nicky Connor and chief financial officer Audrey Valente stated that the senior leadership team have been “working every day” with service teams, the health board, the council, trade unions and more to create a savings plan.  

It aims to ensure “we are continuing to build a sustainable partnership for the future that delivers the services our citizens need to continue to support the right care and support, at the right time, and in the right place”. 

Central Fife Times: The Fife Health and Social Care Partnership, funded by NHS Fife and Fife Council, has a £39m hole in its finances to fill. The Fife Health and Social Care Partnership, funded by NHS Fife and Fife Council, has a £39m hole in its finances to fill. (Image: Newsquest)

Increased service charges for Meals on Wheels, community alarms and supported living rents were all approved as part of the council’s 2024-25 budget in February. 

They agreed to allow up to five per cent rises for fees and charges for a range of services.

The partnership has already been working on a medicines efficiencies programme, but they now hope to “expand the ambition” of it - the aim is more effective prescribing and reduction of medicine waste - which is projected to save £4.3m.

The report added: “This additional work will focus on safely, efficiently and effectively reducing unnecessary prescribing in line with realistic medicine and realistic care.”  If approved, cleaning operations in care homes will also take a hit.

The partnership has suggested going back to “business as usual” and eliminating the enhanced cleaning procedures from the Covid-19 era. 

It also wants to improve the “commissioning of adult care packages” to save £2.4m, which it described as a “modernisation” of contracts and service level agreements with care providers. 

Service redesign is another crucial part of the savings plan and mental health services are top of the list.

“Over the past 12 months mental health services have experienced a requirement to significantly increase the use of locums (temporary substitutes to fill vacancies),” the report explained.   

“This coupled with the increased use of agency nursing staff has resulted in a £6m overspend within the service.” 

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The redesign would aim to reduce the cost of locum spend by 25 per cent and increase the number of registered nurses to reduce the cost of locum spend within inpatient areas. 

There will be an increased focus on early intervention in both community and urgent care responses as well. 

The partnership's budget will be set at the next meeting on Thursday.  According to agenda papers, the board is working with £682m this coming year – 70 per cent from NHS Fife and 30 per cent from Fife Council.