Oxfordshire Health Economy

Today the local hospital for Oxfordshire is in the news again. The story is not new, but after each financial year end (April) the bad news is finally revealed for the previous year.

For the year 2016/17, the Oxford Mail reports the Hospital has overspent by more than £24m. A large figure indeed, not the sort of money they can find down the back of their sofa’s.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Hospital, Dr. Bruno Holthof has issued a statement to all 12000 employees saying their needs to be immediate and significant improvement. He further stated that actions were in place to control both staff pay and non-pay expenditure. Good words and to be expected, but why has it taken until now to do this?

Each year the same tired comments are recited by the current incumbents, explaining what they are going to do to address the issue, yet nothing ever really changes.

Yes, the funding in the NHS is a total mess, and probably there is a shortfall in funding. Yes the way we use all of healthcare needs addressing, but suing primary care more than hospital care, but when the GP surgery cannot see you for three weeks, what alternative do you have except to use the hospital. Some GP surgeries are closing and there are reports that not all the patients from closed surgeries have found alternative surgeries leaving them without access to primary care.

Dentists accepting NHS patients are in some areas rarer than hens teeth, so what are patients to do.

That said none of the difficulties in managing the finances at Oxford University Hospitals can realistically lay anywhere else than with the great and the good of the hospital. The Board of Directors are charged with managing the hospital both financially and medically. They are well rewarded financially for their jobs, they are supposed to be knowledgable and talented and able to to manage difficult and challenging situations. But year after year, they deliver less and less with more cuts. If this performance were replicated in business larger or small, the business would fail. However before it failed those responsible for managing it would have been sacked and replacements capable of turning the situation around would be sought. That never happens in the NHS.

Mr Holthof said: “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.

“For example we need more anaesthetists and operating theatre nurses to meet the growing demand for surgery and direct employment by the trust is cheaper and better than using agencies.”

Currently OUH has 106 vacancies, the majority of which are administrative roles, and in 2016/17 the budget for both trust employees and agency workers was £537.7m but the total cost rose to £563.4m.

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

Mr Holthof added: “To achieve this, we are reviewing all vacant posts and focus our recruiting efforts on medical and nursing staff needed to meet the fast rising demand for urgent and elective treatments.

“Additionally, we are implementing tighter restrictions on ordering goods and services that are not directly needed to deliver care to our patients.

“All these measures are being introduced in ways that protect patient safety and the quality of our patient care is not being compromised.

“By implementing these controls, we are confident that our trust will be in good financial health so that we can continually improve and invest in our clinical services for the future.” What will we be reading in 12 months time I wonder. I hope he is right, but experience tells me he won’t be.

Read the full article here [] http://snip.ly/segza