“Rapid deterioration” of finances in Oxford University Hospitals

Oxfordshire’s hospital bosses have warned employees that there will be a “rapid deterioration” of finances after Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH) revealed it had overspent by £24m from 2016/17.

A statement from the Hospitals’ Chief Executive Bruno Holthof, Chief Executive to the trust’s 12,000 staff, said that “immediate and significant” change was needed, and that there were actions in place to “control both staff pay and non-pay expenditure”.

Since he released the statement, Dr Holthof has confirmed the measures would not affect current employees, but agency staff.

A report into the trust’s financial performance, which includes the John Radcliffe, the Churchill, the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre and the Horton General Hospital in Banbury, found that it had overspent on staff pay by £5.5 million and £19 million on non-pay-items such as medical supplies and stationery.

The report also listed a number of reasons for the overspend, including a savings shortfall of £13.6 million, increased expenditure to reduce the number of delayed transfers of care patients, and a rise in urgent patient referrals in the winter.

While the trust has promised to impose stricter controls on expenditure and focus more efforts to employ more staff on its payroll, a health watchdog announced plans to keep a close eye on the new measures.

Dr Holthof told The Oxford Times: “The trust is strengthening cost controls in the organisation in order to redirect the spending on delivering patient care.

“These measures do not affect the staff employed by the trust but will affect agency staff. We will accelerate the recruitment of medical and nursing staff on our payroll in order to reduce our monthly expenditure on agency staff.”

Non-pay expenditure should have been at £357.6 million but increased to £375.2 million throughout the year.

Rosalind Pearce, Executive Director of Healthwatch Oxfordshire, said: “This is a significant overspend, and we recognise that the management of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is going to have to make some difficult decisions in order to address it.”

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Chairwoman of Patient Voice Jacquie Pearce-Gervis said: “This is obviously very disappointing news. Patient Voice hopes that the control measures being put in place will not affect patient care in any way.”