Banbury residents respond to Horton downgrade with an emphatic ‘No’

The Horton General Hospital, Banbury. NNL-160816-115751009
The Horton General Hospital, Banbury. NNL-160816-115751009
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People in Banburyshire don’t want services at the Horton to be downgraded, a report on the recent consultation into changes to healthcare services has said.

Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) will discuss the results of the first phase of the public consultation into the Oxfordshire Transformation Plan at a meeting next Tuesday, June 20, from 9.30am at Jubilee House in Oxford.

The OCCG will make a final decision at an extraordinary board meeting on August 10.

The consultation, which ran from January 16 to April 9, sought views on changing the use of acute hospital beds; planned care services at the Horton General Hospital; stroke services across Oxfordshire; critical (intensive) care services at the Horton, and; maternity services, including obstetrics, special care baby unit and emergency gynaecology services at the Horton.

The report showed 47 per cent of respondents in Banbury and the surrounding area were opposed to proposals for high risk births to be sent to the JR while maintaining a midwife-led unit at the Horton, with 28 per cent in the area in favour. Across the county, 38 per cent were in favour.

The report said: “The level of agreement with this proposal falls further for the areas of Oxfordshire that would be directly affected by such a shift in maternity and obstetric services.

“The proposal to maintain a midwife-led unit at the Horton attracted significant levels of opposition in responses.”

It added respondents said removing the consultant-led unit at the Horton would pose a significant and unreasonable risk to the lives of mothers and babies, in light of recommendations of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel in 2008 that the travelling distance between the Horton and the JR was too great.

There was support for new services to be introduced at the Horton, including:

• 85 per cent were in favour of a new diagnostic unit;

• 85 per cent agreed with investing in an assessment unit for patients before operations, thus avoiding the need to travel to Oxford;

• 84 per cent agreed there should be more chemotherapy, renal dialysis and day case surgery;

• 78 per cent agreed with introducing a new outpatient unit with a ‘one stop shop’ clinic for appointments;

• But respondents also said new services at the Horton should not be at the expense of other services, including A&E and obstetrics.

Other headline figures in the report include:

• 61 per cent of consultees living in Banbury and surrounding areas opposed the permanent closure of hospital beds;

• Specific objections were raised concerning the removal of 45 beds in Banbury;

• 25 per cent of people in Banbury were not in favour of the proposal to treat all level three critical care patients at the John Radcliffe, with concerns that ceasing level three critical care at the Horton would be a precursor to removing A&E.

It added consultees had questioned the accuracy of travel times to the JR and there had been ‘considerable criticism’ of the consultation process and document.

Keith Strangwood from Keep the Horton General, said it was clear a huge percentage wanted the obstetrics unit in Banbury to stay.

He added: “It is clear the plan is to put the pain in the north. It is still clear people are against the proposals.

“Let’s hope the CCG care enough about north Oxfordshire people to listen to these survey results.”

Any people wanting to submit questions to the OCCG board ahead of Tuesday’s meeting have until 9.30am on Monday, June 19, to do so. Questions can be submitted by email to oxon.gpc@nhs.net.