Health board members were told this week that just under half of the overall savings target of £31.2 million is still ‘unidentified’.
In a report for Monday’s meeting, director of finance Katy Kerr said: “Significant further work is required on the savings plan during the coming months to seek to identify schemes to look to close the financial gap for next year further.”
She revealed there has been increased spending on pay and prescribing, as well as covid cost pressures.
And, £600,000 was also spent on locums to cover at two GP practices in the region.
Officials have been looking at ways of making savings and Ms Kerr said: “Plans to date have identified some opportunities but considerable further work is required to work through these plans to realise the opportunities to deliver efficiencies and savings.”
Up for consideration are reduced travel, electronic patient communications, a review of medical locum use and of medicines.
Furthermore, cost efficiency programmes could be on the cards and Ms Kerr added: “It is worth emphasising the scale of the financial challenge and the likelihood of very difficult decisions on disinvestment in services that will be required.”