OXFORDSHIRE health chiefs say they have wrestled back control of their annual budget after fears it could be completely spent in the first six months.

With a £2.4million overspend in the first two months of 2018, Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) launched a cost-saving plan which included the suspension of NHS vasectomies for new patients.

The overspend was largely put down to increased pressure on A&E.

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The move, however, drew fears that other treatments and health services may also face the chop with local health chiefs saying they would make decision on a case by case basis.

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In August director of finance at the CCG, Gareth Kenworthy, said it was important action was taken immediately before the CCG slipped into a position from which it would be difficult to recover.

According to recent board papers, the CCG, which controls the purse strings for NHS services in Oxfordshire, said as of December spending was now on track to fall within the £891m budget.

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The CCG, which is made up of GPs from across Oxfordshire, said it had cut spending in areas such as recruitment, staff training and IT, in a bid to avoid cutting further treatments or patient services.

A CCG spokesperson said: “Early in the year we initiated a financial recovery plan in response to a £2.4m reported over performance on our contract with the Oxford University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

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CCG finance director Gareth Kenworthy.

“The majority of the recovery has come from holding budgets that were planned to be spent and delaying or stopping them.

“Rather than having to stop or decommission services we have avoided having to spend more money in this way. Added to this the demand for services at the Oxford University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has eased over the course of the year and we have maintained our focus on delivering our agreed savings plans on, for example, prescribing costs.

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“The budget is set according to priorities i.e. the money that has to be spent on patient care and services.

“There is also other planned spend, such as recruitment, staff training, IT or property and this is what is put on hold or delayed to make the savings.”

More than £2million of the early overspend was put down to higher than anticipated accident and emergency attendances, emergency admissions to hospital and short stay urgent care.

The CCG has a statutory duty to meet its financial targets and has been within budget in four out of the last five years.