A £20,000 appeal has been set up in a bid to challenge the removal of Banbury’s dedicated, consultant-led maternity unit.
Keep the Horton General, the campaign group dedicated to protecting Horton General Hospital’s acute services has set up a crowdfunding account to pay for a legal challenge against Oxford University Hospitals Trust’s plan for maternity.
The group has engaged specialist lawyers Leigh Day - who successfully challenged Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in court over downgrading of Lewisham Hospital - to act on the town’s behalf.
The OUHT Board, which met last Wednesday for an extraordinary general meeting where members accepted the plan to downgrade the Horton maternity unit, received a legal warning letter shortly before the decision was taken.
At that meeting chairman Dame Fiona Caldicott said: “We have received notice in the past 24 hours from a firm of solicitors that this decision may be the subject of an application for judicial review, so we fully understand our decision may involve even greater levels of scrutiny at some stage in the future.”
It is understood a further letter is now planned by KTHG following discussions with Leigh Day.
The Banbury Guardian will be following the procedure closely and will give as much information as can be released by lawyers working for Keep the Horton General.
On its website, keepthehortongeneral.org and Facebook page, Save Our Horton, the campaign group has appealed to the Banburyshire public to help its efforts to ensure proper planning and provision of hospital services for the rapidly expanding area.
The crowdfunding page where donations may be made is available at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/SaveOurHorton
Last Wednesday’s board meeting agreed that from October 2, a midwife-only unit, staffed by only one midwife with a support assistant, would be the only provision left at the Horton. The Special Care Baby Unit would also go.
KTHG says the move will put mothers whose deliveries develop unforeseen complications at the midwife-only unit, and their babies, at risk of losing their lives or of suffering permanent damage.
The OUH has said it would have an ambulance with an emergency care assistant parked outside the Hightown Road hospital 24 hours a day in case a transfer was necessary.
The trust said it had no alternative to taking ‘high risk’ births to the JR, Oxford, because it had tried but failed to recruit sufficient middle grade doctors to the Horton rota to keep the service in Banbury safe.
Consultation on a full downgrade of the Horton General Hospital, to include permanent removal of maternity, SCBU, children’s services, trauma, acute medicine and A&E will be held by the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group later this year as part of the government’s Sustainability and Transformation Plans.