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Top Trust to help neighbours

31st March 2006

31032006_oxford1.jpgIt is not always bad management and financial difficulties that are the cause of the NHS cuts around the country. A top-performing trust in Oxfordshire is having to make savings to help out its neighbouring NHS services.

Oxfordshire's mental health service may be said to be a victim of its own success, facing cuts imposed on it even though it has broken even for the last five years.

Last year, Orchard Lodge, a small inpatient unit in the north of the county for people with serious mental health problems such as schizophrenia, closed. Warneford and Littlemore hospitals in Oxford were left to pick up the demand for beds, but now those sites are facing the prospect of cuts.

The three-star rated trust has been asked to make £5.5m of savings partly to bail out the rest of the county's NHS services. The mental health trust is also considering plans to shed seven psychiatric consultants and seven junior doctor posts as well as losing more of its inpatient beds. The cuts represents nearly a tenth of its clinical staff, although because of a forthcoming merger with a neighbouring trust no-one is likely to be made redundant. A specialist A&E service for self-harm and suicide patients is also under threat. The Trust are concentrating on building up their community services.

Oxfordshire is expected to finish the financial year over £25m in deficit. Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust which is one of the biggest trusts in the country, has a deficit of £5m and is also absorbing £13.5m of the county's overall NHS debt.

But the Oxford Radcliffe Trust says it is unfair to blame it for the measures being considered. Over the last three years, the trust has been taking some drastic measures.  The deficit has been reduced down from £40m and services have become more efficient - under the NHS efficiency formula its care costs 6% less than the national average.

The director of Oxfordshire Mind mental health charity, Patrick Taylor, said that it seems bitterly unfair that the Mental Health trust has been run well and then effectively be punished for it. He felt that the cuts will harm patient care.

Local MP Evan Harris said the trust's hospitals were, like the rest of the NHS, victims of government interference. "Because of waiting time targets, hospitals have not been able to manage patient lists and have had to treat non-urgent cases and therefore exceed what they have money for" she said.



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Article Information

Title: Top Trust to help neighbours
Author: Sue Knights
Article Id: 187
Date Added: 31st Mar 2006


BBC News

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