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Oxfordshire County Council vote ‘No confidence’ in Oxford Health

Councillors cite ‘lack of respect’ from health chiefs following no confidence vote.

Oxfordshire County Council have passed a vote of no confidence in the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust.

The decision follows a failure of communication about the closure of a local Community hospital.

Meeting on Friday 31st May, the Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) discussed the recent closure of Oxford City Community Hospital, before holding an amended vote of no confidence in the Trust’s use of communicative procedure.

The possibility of the unit closing had been on the table since the previous summer, but was not declared to Oxford health until after the final decision was taken on the 8th May.

In response to this, Oxfordshire County Council convened a meeting of the Overview Scrutiny Committee, confirming the motion of no confidence on the same day that patients were discharged from City Community Hospital.

According to Oxford Health, the HOSC received testimony from “chief operating officer Dominic Hardisty, clinical director Pete McGrane and joint service director of Oxfordshire community services Tehmeena Ajmal, who responded to a volley of questioning”.

“The committee acknowledged the Trust’s grounds for the temporary closure.”

COO Dominic Hardisty told the committee that communication surrounding the issues was not of the standard it “could or should” have been, but cited a fear that staff would leave if the decision was announced, claiming employees may “vote with their feet”.

Hardisty also admitted that the unit had only managed to stay open due to the “extraordinary efforts” of staff members, informing the committee that some employees would work consecutive night and day shifts to cover staffing shortages.

County Councillor Lis Brighouse said she “would not accept” Hardisty’s response: “many of the residents in my ward work on the Churchill site.

“I’ve not met one health professional who would vote with their feet.

“They’re working back to back shifts in a system we know has massive problems. It’s a mess. “I can’t accept that they would vote with their feet.”

Councillor Hilary Hibbert Biles also told Cherwell the committee that the “lack of communication shows a lack of respect”.

The Chairman of HOSC, Arash Fatemain, described the issue as “managed rather than addressed” by Oxford Health.

He went on to say: “In light of the events that have transpired in the past and in particular, some of the decision-making, the committee doesn’t have confidence that there’s a proper understanding of the agreed working principles from Oxford Health.”

As previously reported by Cherwell, the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust temporarily closed its 12 bed City Community Hospital at the end of last month, due to staff shortages.

Half of all nursing posts had been unfilled since 206, with two thirds of posts due to be vacant by the end of the May.

Oxford hospitals are also experiencing an “exodus” of EU workers since the 2016 referendum. 800 EU staff have left Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, over double those that left in the five years preceding 2016.

Oxford Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said: “The fact that over 800 EU nationals have left our health service since Brexit is deeply saddening.”

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