In the spirit of fairness, openness and partnership working NHS Highland is calling on Highland councillors to consider their budget allocation very carefully before making a final decision .

David Alston, chair of NHS Highland, said: “I am disappointed in the proposal to reduce funding to NHS Highland for adult social care. While the Highland Council faces difficult decisions, as do NHS Highland. The reality is that their income - the net revenue budget - will increase in 2017/18 by more than £5m, from £555.731m to £560.911m.

“In these circumstances it would be reasonable to expect, in the spirit of previous years' agreements, that adult social care would have been given the same priority as before and that funding would remain the same.”

This financial year NHS Highland received £91.82m from Highland Council to fund these services. Our comparable spend against this will be £104.7m, an additional £12.9m, because of the importance NHS Highland place on providing high quality care for adults in the community.

Mr Alston added: “The reality is that shortfall in our allocation is not simply a £1.2m gap. What will not be obvious to the public is that this represents a real terms reduction of around £7m. This is because the Council’s allocation to NHS Highland fails to address the increasing cost pressures associated with paying the living wage to all care workers, inflation, salaries, and increasing demand.

By contrast the Council has made an equivalent uplift of four million for council staff salaries.

“Only a limited number of cuts proposed in the Council budget are identified as having 'a significant impact' and the reduction in adult social care is by far the largest of them.  Moreover given the proposed three per cent increase in Council Tax, I believe most people would have reasonably expected a proportionate share of that increase to have gone to support adult social care.

“Reduced funding to NHS Highland will have inevitable impacts on our whole integrated health and social care system which has successfully been in place for the last five years.

“To me this is at odds with the views councillors express regularly and publicly in their opposition to any ‘down-grading’ of  front line NHS services, including the impact this may have on the social and economic state of the Highlands, an issue recently publically raised by the Council Leader.”