Banbury area GPs demand voice over Horton downrade

Plans for the Horton would mean all acute care being centralised in Oxford
Plans for the Horton would mean all acute care being centralised in Oxford

Banburyshire GPs have told Oxford hospital bosses they expect their views, and those of patients, to be critical in determining the fate of the Horton General Hospital.

Dr Emma Haskew, on behalf of 47 family doctors, has told Oxford University Hospitals Trust board chair, Dame Fiona Caldicott, that Banburyshire is totally against plans to centralise the Horton’s main services in Oxford.

The Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) proposal would leave Banbury with a day clinic for diagnostics, outpatients and surgery and those with serious conditions needing a consultant - and patients’ visitors - would have to travel to the JR Hospital in Headington for admission.

The Sibford GP and Dame Fiona have been exchanging letters in which Dr Haskew has called for protection of the Horton’s maternity, children’s service, A&E, medical and trauma services.

Dame Fiona said OUH does not have a preferred option for Horton services. “The Trust Board does not have a preferred option on these proposals; the eventual outcome will be determined by the two public consultations which will be led by (Oxfordshire) Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG),” she wrote.

Dr Haskew replied: “I am pleased the outcome of plans to downgrade the Horton ‘will be determined by the two public consultations led by the CCG’.

“The fact is is that the overwhelming proportion of GPs, health workers and patients in the catchment/consultation area are wholly and absolutely against both downgrade options and the proposal in the STP,” she wrote.

“In the light of your reassurance, I expect that commitment to be honoured when consultation is reviewed.”

She said Dame Fiona’s promise that the Horton would see tens of thousands of additional patient outpatient appointments, rather than patients having to go to Oxford for care, ignored the outcome of downgrading acute services.

“This completely ignores the huge, adverse consequences of removal of inpatient, acute departments and is, frankly, no substitute to a fully functioning district general hospital with all the requisite core services,” she wrote.

“Enhanced diagnostics and outpatients have been promised in the past and will be welcome but these should have been in the pipeline in any event to prevent the unnecessary inconvenience to patients, congestion and environmental issues and over-burdening of the Oxford hospitals’ sites.

“Horton outpatient services have been continually eroded over the last few years and I would suggest the cessation of this practice would perhaps be a more logical first step.”

Dr Haskew used her letter to confirm medical opposition to removal of theHorton’s consultant led maternity unit.

“I and many other local GPs, midwives and other health professionals feel it completely unsafe,” she said.

“In a matter which will have such a devastating effect on local health provision that dialogue between the trust and GPs is important. Unfortunately I am not aware of any such dialogue.”

Dame Fiona replied: “The temporary emergency decision we have taken has been made solely on the grounds of patient safety. If we are not able to staff fully the middle grade obstetric and gynaecology rota, we cannot provide a safe obstetric service and therefore cannot ensure the safety of our patients. We have put in place an additional ambulance at the Horton to support the midwifery led unit.”