The health budget has been overspent yet again - by more than £5 million.

The Department of Health and Social Care is projecting an overspend of £5.4 million and is planning to go cap in hand to Tynwald, once more, in January, to seek the extra funding. Health Minister David Ashford revealed the projected overspend in response to a Tynwald question from Julie Edge (Onchan).

He said the final amount that will be required would be worked out once the accounts for the end of November were complete.

Earlier this year Mr Ashford said finances in his department were improving, although that was just after he sought an extra £4 million due to an overspend.

At that point, the minister admitted that the department overspend had become an annual event.

Finances at the DHSC came under heavy scrutiny this year following damning reports into the department by the Public Accounts Committee, and also a review of service funding by Sir Jonathan Michael.

A ’transformation project’ is under way to attempt to sort out the department’s finances.

In his response to Ms Edge’s question, Mr Ashford said: ’The department is working closely with the transformation project to implement the recommendations of Sir Jonathan Michael’s final report.

’These include ensuring that increased funding is available in the future and that any increases in funding are linked to efficiency targets. In the interim the department is continuing to review and challenge expenditure whilst ensuring that frontline services continue to be delivered at an appropriate level.’

The biggest area of overspend is Noble’s Hospital, which looks to go £8 million over the forecast budget of £107m.

Staffing costs are £4.5m over budget.

Spending on mental health services, estimated to reach just under £20.5 million, will be nearly £3 million above the projection, while UK referrals and patient transfer is nearly £4 million over budget, at £23.3 million.

Other areas have made savings.

Mr Ashford (pictured) outlined some of the causes.

’During the year the community services directorate has been created in order to establish integrated care across the three services - adult services, mental health and primary care,’ he said.

’Therefore the financial position should be considered for the new directorate as a whole as the mental health budget includes some efficiency targets for the whole directorate.’

Staff recruitment remained a problem ’across the NHS’, and the need for agency and bank staff to cover vacant costs had contributed to the overspend.

He added: ’UK referrals have seen cost pressures in relation to complex and specialised treatments and the interim cancer drugs policy.

’The budget has not been uplifted for a few years although a bid has been made for 2020-21.’

Meanwhile, the corporate services budget, which is currently carrying a £4m contingency, is forecast to be ’significantly below budget’ at the end of the year.

Examiner comment, page 18