POSTPONED operations and staff overtime payments over the winter period have seen Oxfordshire’s acute health trust miss its financial target.

During what was one of the worst winters in several years, Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) NHS Foundation Trust was forced to postpone 273 non-urgent surgeries between January and March in order to free up beds for urgent care.

This led to a loss of around £1million in payments from health commissioners, who pay OUH for the medical procedures it carries out at the John Radcliffe, Churchill and Horton hospitals.

Added to this, increased medical staff costs – primarily overtime payments – meant the trust was forced to pay out more than expected in recent months.

As a result, the trust has reported a deficit of £7.3m for the 2017/18 financial year, falling £2.1m short of the year end target set by national regulator NHS Improvement.

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TARGETS: OUH CFO Jason Dorsett

Speaking at a meeting of the OUH board, chief finance officer Jason Dorsett said: “With the difficult winter period, particularly January, February and March, the financial consequences were that we earned less elective income due to cancelled procedures in order to make bed capacity available.

“We did have some national funding for incentivised staff overtime and that covered a portion of the overtime but it didn’t cover all hours, so there was a rise in pay expenditure in quarter four.”

He also told board members that failing to hit the target also meant the trust had missed out on a further £15million in sustainability and transformation funding from NHS Improvement.

Mr Dorsett said it was concerning that the trust was now running at a deficit (last year OUH recorded a surplus of £3million), however, he pointed out that the figure was relatively small in comparison to the trust’s £1billion turnover.

He said: “It was expected we would make a small deficit We are concerned to be making a deficit however small relative to the total sum of our funding.

“It means we haven’t got as much money to invest in the future of the hospital as we would like to.

“However, it’s much more important that we work to have a medium term plan to use the money we get to make us sustainable in a very difficult NHS environment.”

OUH spokesman Matt Akid said the trust was now working with commissioners, Oxford Health trust, the county council and South Central Ambulance Service to plan for next winter in an effort to prevent costs escalating in a similar fashion.