Page last updated at 09:55 GMT, Tuesday, 2 February 2010

NHS Highland board considers 14m savings

Hospital bed
Dr Gibbins said hospital beds were one of NHS Highland's biggest costs

NHS Highland's board is looking at plans to make savings of £14m.

Chief executive Dr Roger Gibbins said controlling spending in administration and reducing numbers of unused hospital beds would help to reduce costs.

Meanwhile, more money was expected to be spent on new technologies and ending variations in the prescribing of drugs across the health board area.

NHS Highland covers the mainland Highlands and Argyll and Bute. It provides services for 398,790 patients.

The area covered by the health board represents 41% of Scotland's land mass.

Hospital beds are one of our biggest costs
Dr Roger Gibbins
NHS Highland chief executive

Dr Gibbins said: "People would expect us to apply all the new technologies that we can.

"We are looking to make sure that we can reduce some of the big variations that exist in prescribing around the Highlands.

"We are looking also at hospital beds. Hospital beds are one of our biggest costs, particularly in the Highlands and on any one day there will be 70 beds that are not in use.

"We have to ask the question 'do we keep funding those?'"

In December, NHS Highland's chairman Gary Coutts said the health board would need to make spending efficiencies so it could pay for new drug treatments and equipment.

His comments followed its annual review, led by Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon.

Members of the public at the meeting said they were concerned about an ongoing bed review in hospital wards.

Mr Coutts also said NHS Highland wanted to allow more patients to receive care in their homes, or close to where they live.

The health board said it had moved on from a time when older patients were staying in hospital for years rather than being cared for at home.

Mr Coutts said six to seven years ago patients were "living in hospital for several years".

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