COUNCIL and healthcare chiefs in the Borders have voted to disinvest from an autism project and training for the families of people living with dementia. 

They also voted to cease funding for a project intended to support people living with alcohol-related brain damage.

At this week’s meeting of the Scottish Borders Health and Social Care Integrated Joint Board, made up of representatives of both Scottish Borders Council and NHS Borders, members cast their eye over projects vying for continued funding from the board’s integrated care fund. 

Council staff had recommended reducing the funding for the brain damage and dementia training projects by 50 per cent, but board members took umbrage over the lack of detail in the project reports and a perceived lack of performance measurements.

In light of that, Scottish Borders Council convener David Parker tabled motions to disinvest from the alcohol-related brain damage and dementia training projects, contradicting the recommendations of council staff. 

In tabling the motion to stop funding for the brain damage project, he said: “Looking at these projects, I’ve heard nothing good about this. I wouldn’t fund this.”

The board looked at projects that first received funding from the integrated care fund two to three years ago and which the integrated joint board is now keen to review.

Leaderdale and Melrose's councillor Parker added: “It was a mess at the beginning. Let’s make sure it isn’t a mess at the end.”

Council officers recommended disinvesting from an autism strategy project, which held training events and surveyed members of the Borders autism community, within three months due to a lack of performance evidence. 

However, council leader Shona Haslam tabled a successful motion to extend the funding for six months, rather than the recommended three, in order to facilitate further learning for future projects. 

The autism strategy project currently employs one project co-ordinator and since December 2015 it has cost the integrated care fund £43,826.

The motion to disinvest with six months’ notice, as opposed to three, was passed by four votes to three. 

The alcohol-related brain damage project, providing training for care professionals, also employing a project co-ordinator, has cost the integrated care fund £50,206 since February 2016. 

The motion to completely disinvest from the project as soon as possible, as tabled by Mr Parker, was passed by six votes to one. 

A stress and distress training project, which provided training for the families and carers of people with dementia, had cost the care fund £72, 284 since October 2015. 

The motion to completely disinvest from the project, again tabled by Mr Parker, was passed four votes to two, with one abstaining.

A report from Robert McCulloch-Graham, the council’s chief officer for integration, said: “The proposed board budget for 2018-19 currently totals £168.4m, comprising £122.528m from the NHS including set-aside and £45.839m from the council.

“In total, resources available to the joint board will increase by £0.95m from the comparable position in 2017-18, including the former integrated care fund and social care fund monies.

“The plan, however, requires a significant level of efficiency savings totalling £9.883m, of which £5.2m are currently unidentified.

“Proposals to bridge this gap will be submitted to the board of NHS Borders in June 2018 and will subsequently be shared with the joint board.”