NHS Ayrshire & Arran faces a £22million deficit in its revenue budget for the year ahead after an exhausting 12 months of staff battling COVID-19. 

Health bosses have found ways to save £9.3million so far during 2021 to 2022 and are looking at other cuts. 

East Ayrshire Council leader Douglas Reid said “we can’t panic about it” during an NHS board meeting when the draft budget was presented.

John Burns, chief executive of the health board, described the financial plan as “work in progress.”

He said: “We are still working our way through the  cost pressures and scrutinising and challenging our understanding of those as well as looking at where we have redesign options or areas where we can work differently, which will bring further efficiency.”

More details on the budget is due at a later meeting.

Describing the financial situation as “concerning”, North Ayrshire Council leader Joe Cullinane said: “I know we have tackled an underlying deficit for a number of years now and it doesn’t seem to ever shift. At some point we do need to tackle that.”

Board member Linda Semple said: “The board is obviously never happy to agree a deficit budget so clearly we would be happy to take a view that this is an interim statement and that we would be expecting further detail to come back.”

She said financial planning has been knocked out of kilter because of the pandemic. 

A health paper said the board plans to save £9.3million in prescribing, ‘acute operational,’ human resources, travel and other areas. 

Councillor Reid said: “We can’t panic about this. The transformative work we are undertaking – ‘Caring for Ayrshire’ – is ahead of what many health boards are doing and we have to keep going with that.”