NHS Borders has ‘keeled over’ when it comes to managing its budget, claimed chairman John Raine this week.

But he said the financial failures had not affected the service offered at the BGH.

However, he reckoned the settlement the board is set to receive from the Scottish Government for the next financial year would leave bosses with an even “bigger gap to be bridged”.

Speaking at the Health and Sport Committee meeting at Holyrood yesterday (Tuesday), Mr Raine said: “NHS Borders has always been seen as a good performing health board, we have always delivered on the budget up until this current financial year.

“But we’ve gone from being seen as a board that has delivered well in terms of waiting times and services to patients, to a board that has keeled over in terms of managing the budget.”

Last November the board was bailed out after it was escalated to stage four of the Scottish Government’s NHS board performance framework. The worst is stage five, which involves ministerial intervention.

Mr Raine added: “One of the advantages of being escalated and being on the ladder is that we do get help with turnaround and yesterday we had a turnaround team which is funded by government arrive to assist us.

“There is going to be no quick fix to this, we are planning on a three-to-five-year turnaround. We have had brokerage of just over £10 million and that is on a budget of just a little more than £200 million. It’s a significant proportion. To pull that back is not going to be easy.

“The brokerage sum in this current year has been written off. That’s very helpful, but it does mean that we have an overheating of the economy of NHS Borders that we still need to rein back.

“We need to find ways of transforming services because we’re not going to deal with this just by getting a firmer grip and control over relatively small parts of expenditure.”

However, despite the financial worries, Mr Raine said services hadn’t been hit.

He told the committee: “ At the end of this month we’re on course, barring a devastating turn in the weather or other calamities, to announce we’re probably the best in Scotland in terms of delivering services.

“We’ll have no patients waiting in in-patients or out-patients over 12 weeks and we’ll have no patients waiting for diagnostic tests beyond six weeks, other than people waiting for MRI scans.

“I think that is going to be the best in Scotland.

“We await that. It’s not in the bag, as it were, but I am hopeful that will be achieved.

“I think perhaps the reason I used the phrase ‘keeled over’ is that being on level four, does have a demoralising effect across the organisation. It concerns the board greatly.

“Although interestingly, colleagues and I travelled on the Borders Railway this morning and we sat with somebody that we did not know, who was listening to our conversation about coming here today. He said ‘I am a consultant at Borders General Hospital’ and he was singing the praises of his working environment, the team spirit that exists and the conditions that he works in.”

The Scottish Government funded turnaround team is now helping NHS Borders to balance its books.