NHS Ayrshire and Arran’s financial crisis is likely to continue, with the national auditor seeing no end in sight.

The Auditor General reported to the Scottish Parliament that NHS Ayrshire and Arran is unable to deliver services within budget and savings targets have not been met.

Addressing the board’s ‘significant financial challenges’ Auditor General Caroline Gardner said: “I have serious reservations about their ability to make the changes that are needed to achieve financial balance in future.”

NHS Ayrshire and Arran required £23 million in loan funding, known as brokerage, from the Scottish Government to cover cost pressures.

Additional loan funding from the Scottish Government will also be needed this year, with a projected shortfall of £22.4 million.

The report says that the board will not be able to balance its budget by 2020/21 and it has no plans to repay the loans to the Scottish Government. The report notes that net expenditure was £859 million, 3.7 per cent higher than the £828 million reported in 2016/17.

Acute services overspent by £11.5 million, compared to an overspend of £6.9 million in 2016/17. The report notes this is mainly a result of meeting the demand for unscheduled care arising from increasing emergency admissions as well as a high number of patients who are fit for discharge remaining in acute hospital beds.

The report concludes that there is a high risk NHS Ayrshire and Arran will not achieve its financial plans for 2018/19.

It also warned that the board will require more than the anticipated £22.4 million from the Scottish Government.