At a meeting of Forth Valley NHS Board on Tuesday, members discussed a report on the preparation of the Forth Valley and Social Care Winter Plan for November 2019 to March 2020.
The plan, which has still to be approved, has to be finalised by the end of October. It includes provision for a staff flu vaccination programme and access to 4x4 vehicles to transport medical staff.
Unfortunately the Health Board and Integration Joint Boards will only receive an allocation of £255,150 from the Scottish Government this year, which is a decrease from last year’s two allocations – an initial sum of £509,419 and then an additional £300,000.
And in last year’s mild winter the additional associated expenditure actually exceeded the £809,419 the board received and was in the region of £1.26 million.
Scott Urquhart, board financial director, said: “The allocation is not anything near what we have had in the past and at this point there is no expectation of further funding being given. These are the available resources and we need to find a way of working within those resources to manage winter safely.”
Board chairman Alex Linkston added: “It’s disappointing. This winter could bring serious weather. It’s going to be a challenging time, but we got a huge contribution from staff last year – the community and staff will work together to deal with things as best we can.”
In a letter to Forth Valley NHS Board, NHS Scotland’s chief executive Malcolm Wright stated the £255,150 allocation should be used to focus on reducing attendances at hospitals and managing care closer to home, reducing patients’ length of stay and delayed discharges and ensure adequate festive staffing cover.
An NHS Forth Valley spokesperson said: “We welcome any additional funding from the Scottish Government and will ensure we work with partners to make best use of the money available. This will include exploring new and different ways of doing things to help reduce pressure and address any increased demand for services over the winter period. “Ensuring patients who are ready to leave hospital do not experience unnecessary delays will also help by freeing up extra capacity at this busy time of year and reduce staffing costs associated with opening additional winter beds.
“People can help reduce pressure on hospital services over the winter by using local pharmacy and Minor Injuries Unit services for less serious health problems.”