ONE of Scotland’s largest health boards is raising “concern” by overspending on care services by £1m a month, it has emerged, jeopardising efforts to balance the books by the end of the year.

NHS Lothian is aiming to wipe out a £6.5m funding gap by the end of the year. But in the first two months of 2017-2018, it overspent by £2.1m, almost doubling a predicted shortfall for that period.

The figures emerged ahead of a meeting of the Edinburgh Integration Joint Board today [Friday]. The IJB, brings together Edinburgh City Council and NHS Lothian, to manage health and social care in the city.

With the whole NHS Lothian budget showing a funding gap of £22.4m, the IJB agreed in April to savings of £6.5m over the year on health and social care services. But members will be told today the situation has worsened. Meanwhile detailed financial information about the cost of services run by the council on behalf of the IJB is not known.

A paper by NHS Lothian’s interim chief finance officer Moira Pringle says “The emerging financial position for both NHS and council services is of concern”.

The report blames prescribing costs and rising budgets for nursing staff in community hospitals and junior hospital doctors for the problem in the NHS.

Meanwhile it says council budgets are also under pressure from an increase in direct payments given to council clients to arrange their own care, and the cost of agency staff within care homes and learning disability services.

Savings plans – including a reduction in the use of nursing and care at home agencies – are “unlikely to be sufficient to deal with the combined impact of these factors,” the report says. A spokeswoman for the IJB said there were still nine months left to rectify the financial position.

NHS Lothian has been dogged by financial problems but claims it is underfunded, by comparison with other boards such as NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

A report from Audit Scotland on Edinburgh’s Integration Joint Board published last year said that the body’s financial position was sustainable as both health board and council continued to deliver efficiency savings. However the ageing population and a rise in patients with long term illnesses and complex conditions were placing pressure on budgets, the public finance watchdog said.