A RADICAL shake-up of NHS care in Oxfordshire is needed to prevent a £200m budget black hole by 2020, health bosses have warned.

They said they needed to save more cash by preventing disease and encouraging more people to go to community hospitals and GPs, instead of walking into A&E. 

This is because by 2020/21 it is forecast there will be a £200m gap between money given to them by the Government and estimated demand on services.

It could see millions of pounds moved from city hospital budgets and ploughed into local facilities, the bosses of Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Oxford University Hospitals Trust and Oxford Health told the Oxford Mail. 

As part of this change, hospital space could be downsized in Oxford and Banbury, with officials planning to redevelop the latter's Horton General, and staff sent out to other locations.

Areas being reviewed to find savings include urgent and emergency care, maternity services, children’s services, planned, diagnostics and specialist care, mental health, learning disabilities and autism.

Dr Joe McManners, clinical chairman of Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: "If we keep on spending the way we are and keep on admitting as many people to hospital, the system will not be sustainable.

Oxford Mail:

  • Dr Joe McManners, clinical chairman of Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group​

"We need to use our resources in a different way and support people in their communities and their homes.

"That means we do not have to keep opening more and more wards."

But Dr Bruno Holthof, chief executive of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH), stressed that there would be no cutbacks to clinical staff.

He said: "There needs to be a culture shift. It is about having a mindset geared towards preventative care.

"People still believe a hospital is the best place to go for care but in many cases it is not.

"It is much better to seek care on an ambulatory basis – about 10 per cent of bed space is taken up for the wrong reasons, because these people would be better cared for at home."

Much of the disease on the rise is preventable and down to unhealthy lifestyles or habits such as smoking, he said. A key pressure is also the number of people aged over 85, which is expected to grow by 30 per cent over the next 10 years.

Meanwhile the number of elderly people visiting A&E instead of their GP is rising, with 29 per cent of patients claiming the length of waiting times are "unacceptable".

Under the plans more emergency multi-disciplinary units, such as those in Witney and Abingdon, could be created.

These effectively act as a half-way house between GPs and hospital accident and emergency departments and are viewed as an answer to bed-blocking problems at Oxfordshire’s main hospitals.

Under GP-led assessment for urgent care, an aim could also be for patients to get same-day appointments at surgeries.