• NHS Improvement imposes enforcement actions on Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust for breaching its licence
  • Requires trust to plan and improve performance in RTT, A&E, finances, workforce and governance
  • OUHT is planning a 2018-19 deficit of £25m, against a control total of £23.7m surplus

NHS Improvement has taken action against a leading teaching hospital for failing to meet national targets.

NHS Improvement has taken action against a leading teaching hospital for failing to meet major national targets.

”Enforcement undertakings” have been issued to Oxford University Hospitals FT for breaching the conditions of its licence to provide healthcare services, by failing to have “adequate” plans to tackle treatment backlogs, long accident and emergency waits and declining finances.

The action commits the trust to develop and implement plans to improve performance in: emergency care; planned care (including cancer and elective care); financial sustainability; governance and strategic workforce planning.

The letter from the regulator to the trust detailing the enforcement action revealed that the hospital has rejected its 2018-19 control total of a £23.7m surplus. It is instead planning for a deficit of £25m excluding sustainability and transformation funding. In 2017-18 the trust was variant to plan by £31.7m excluding STF.

NHS Improvement said the trust does not yet have a financial plan to return to a “sustainable financial position” and is forecasting a need for cash support from the Department of Health and Social Care. The document said its financial “failures..demonstrate a failure of governance”.

The letter, dated 19 June 2018, also said the trust does not yet know what referral to treatment performance it can deliver in this financial year as it “does not have an adequate detailed improvement plan” in place.

Among other requirements, the undertaking asks the trust to “procure and fully engage in a well led review”; halve the number of people waiting more than 52 weeks; and review the “underlying drivers” of its deficit.

The letter said: “Failure to comply with the undertakings will render the licensee liable to futher formal action by NHS Improvement.”

In quarter four 2017-18, the trust admitted or discharged 81 per cent of patients in its A&E against a 95 per cent national target. It also had 180 patients waiting more than a year for treatment and 85 per cent of patients were seen within 18 weeks of referral against a target of 92 per cent.

A spokeswoman for NHS Improvement said: “OUHT has agreed a series of undertakings with NHS Improvement to improve, in a sustainable way, a range of services for its patients. 

“While we have more recently (since drafting and agreeing) seen some improvement in their A&E performance this now needs to be sustained over the longer term and in a financially sustainable way all year round. Delivering clinically and financially sustainable services is what patients and taxpayers expect of the NHS and this is ultimately what the undertakings require the trust to do.” 

Chief executive Bruno Holthof said: “As a trust board we are committed to working with staff across the trust and with colleagues from other NHS organisations operating in the Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West sustainability and transformation programme to improve our performance on all these key priorities and to deliver the highest possible quality of care for our patients.”