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NHS commissioning group facing an £11m overspend
ONE of the county’s main health organisations could be facing an £11m black hole in its finances.
New details about the scale of the potential debt crisis at the group that purchases Oxfordshire’s healthcare reveal that the Government may have to step in to keep hospitals running.
Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG), which was only set up in April, could overspend by £11.1m by the end of the financial year, officials have now said.
And if that does happen, senior managers could be axed and replaced with Government officials.
Just five months ago, they said they hoped to make a £3.2m surplus this year.
But the ambition is now in tatters – and already this financial year OCCG has made a deficit of £3.8m.
The group’s top bosses say they still think they can balance the books – but would have to raid all of their £6.9m reserves to do so.
Dr Stephen Richards, OCCG chief executive, said too many patients were going to hospital, a situation health officials have yet to fully explain.
“The increased activity around both urgent and planned care has exceeded what we anticipated,” he said. “To break even with a surplus of £65,000, we will have fully committed all of our reserves.
“It means that we go into next year in a less than desirable situation, starting from absolute zero and will have to make even more savings.”
He said the financial problems were not unique to Oxfordshire’s commissioning group and OCCG was talking to the Government-backed NHS England about the possible options.
He said: “The absolute priority is to address what we can address in the next six months. These next six months are critical.
“But ultimately the bottom line stops with the accountable officer, hence I have an extremely clear and vivid interest in what happens.”
In the group’s own worst-case scenario – revealed yesterday at a meeting of the authority – the body would need to make cuts next year to repay this year’s deficit.
In April, OCCG replaced Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust in purchasing most of the county’s health services – from A&E departments and ambulances to cancer treatments and maternity departments.
But it had to make £25.6m of savings this year to meet its £650m budget.
Asked how the public would be affected if further cuts were needed, Dr Richards said: “In terms of main frontline services, they will be protected. It will be non-frontline services and we will have to have discussions with other authorities and the public.”
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