EXTRA cash to ease pressure on the county’s NHS and social services over the coming winter is to be slashed by almost two-thirds.
NHS England gave £10.2m to Oxfordshire’s NHS authorities and Oxfordshire County Council to deal with the seasonal increase in health problems.
But this year it is set to be cut to about £4m, although NHS England has not responded to Oxford Mail requests to explain why.
Extra funds are given to services for the winter because of seasonal bugs and as cold weather can exacerbate existing health conditions.
Bicester’s Diane Maudling, whose late husband Peter spent 12 weeks at the John Radcliffe in 2011 – despite being well enough to leave – called it “ludicrous”.
Mrs Maudling, 76, said: “It needs more resources, not necessarily in the hospital but across the county. It is a huge problem.”
NHS England said no final decisions had been taken on the funding and refused to comment further.
Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group is among the NHS bodies which gets the cash, along with ambulance, hospital and mental health bosses OCCG told the Oxford Mail the grant will be “around £4m” with a final figure due in September.
The group also said NHS England could additionally “claw back” funds from OCCG – which spent £635.7m this year – after the winter if it does not show results.
Oxford East MP Andrew Smith said it was “very worrying news”.
He said: “Oxfordshire very much needed that extra money earmarked for winter pressures to get through a very difficult financial situation. Obviously if they cut the money it’s really going to put the OCCG under very severe pressure.
“I don’t think it’s going to be justified because it’s not like we’re going to have less health need this coming winter than last winter.”
Banbury MP Sir Tony Baldry said: “This is an entirely discretionary payment and I suspect it reflects the difficulties which particular trusts have had in the previous years.
“I don’t think it’s ever been a sum of money that was intended to be distributed by a formula, or any suggestion that once a hospital trust received a sum then if it didn’t receive the same amount the next year it should be seen as a ‘cut’. It reflects that they dealt with winter pressures last year competently.”
Henley MP John Howell said: “I don’t think I have a comment until I’ve seen the explanation.”
Oxford West and Abingdon MP Nicola Blackwood said the £4m figure was too low and she would be asking NHS England for an explanation.
Witney MP and Prime Minister David Cameron and Wantage MP Ed Vaizey did not respond to a request to comment.
Interim chief operating officer Regina Shakespeare said the group was happy to receive any extra money.
She said that NHS England would be deciding on the funding and made no further comment.
County council spokesman Marcus Mabberley said: “The finalised amounts of money for each region nationally to assist with winter pressures for 2014/15 have not yet been announced. It is therefore too early to comment on how such funding could be utilised in Oxfordshire.”
LAST year’s money paid for:
- 12 extra community hospital beds
- 27 community nurses
- 65 beds
- 12 social workers
- Three A&E doctors
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