Essential NHS services ‘won’t be cut’ in bid to save £11.1m

Oxford Mail: Dr Stephen Richards Dr Stephen Richards

THE chief executive of one of Oxfordshire’s main health organisations has promised “essential” NHS services will not be subject to cuts.

Dr Stephen Richards was speaking after the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) announced it was holding a series of public meetings this month and December.

THE OCCG is facing an £11.1m deficit this financial year in the worst case scenario and has had to make £25m of savings to meet its £650m budget this year – its first since taking over from the Primary Care Trust following Government reforms on April 1.

Dr Stephen Richards, OCCG chief executive, said public meetings throughout November and December – which were announced on Monday – would help the trust know which services residents value.

He said: “What I hope we get from the meetings is clarity about the things that the public value most about their NHS services in this county.

“We do not want to spend the next years having discussions with things that are immovable.”

He added: “The backdrop, not just for us but Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust and Oxford Health, is that we have got to look at potential savings of five per cent each year for the next five years – even though we are relatively protected as the NHS.”

But he said “essential” NHS services would not be subject to cuts, naming the non-emergency 111 phone-line and accident and emergency departments.

Although the meetings are not being organised to source ideas to save money, Dr Richards said he does not mind if people make suggestions.

He hopes the meetings will inform OCCG’s five-year strategic plan and its two-year operational plan, both of which need to be produced by the end of March 2014. He said he hoped this would mean the documents would “not have too many surprises”.

Dr Richards also said that services at the county’s nine community hospitals would not be cut, but, if anything, expanded.

OCCG is currently trying to “build on the success” of Abingdon Emergency Multidisciplinary Unit (EMU) at Abingdon community hospital, which treats acute patients so they do not have to attend the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. The service is already being rolled out to Witney Community Hospital and the Horton General Hospital in Banbury.

Abingdon EMU won the best service delivery innovation category at the Guardian Healthcare Innovation Awards last month.

Dr Richards said he hoped a “cross section” of the public – children, adults and the elderly – would attend the meetings, but said Oxford East MP Andrew Smith had made a “very fair point” on Monday in the Oxford Mail when he urged the trust to hold more than one of them in the evening.

Dr Richards added: “We have already agreed in principle that if people and the public are requesting more, we will put on more meetings that will be in the evenings.”

He also said the trust would use Facebook, Twitter and other platforms to get the message out, and was also consulting internally with NHS staff.


  • Wantage, November 19, 1pm -5pm
  • Witney, West Oxfordshire District Council offices, Wednesday, November 20, 6.30pm to 9.30pm
  • Oxford, November 21, 9am-noon
  • Banbury, December 3, 1pm-5pm
  • Bicester, December 5, 9am-1pm
  • Wallingford, December 19, 9am to 1pm
  • Places must be booked on 01865 334638.


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