Big Consultation and Horton plan ‘a disaster’ say campaigners

South Central Ambulance Service. The Horton General Hospital, Banbury. Patient Transport Service. NNL-160816-115751009

South Central Ambulance Service. The Horton General Hospital, Banbury. Patient Transport Service. NNL-160816-115751009

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The Big Healthcare Consultation is an exercise to brainwash the county into thinking less hospital care is more, according to Horton campaigners.

Members of Keep the Horton General who attended Thursday’s public meeting – changed at the last minute to St Mary’s after a flood of complaint about a round-table discussion at the Town Hall – said their worst fears about health chiefs’ assurances that they wanted to preserve Horton services were confirmed.

“It’s obvious from Thursday’s meeting it’s a plan to exchange critical care, life-bringing maternity and acute beds for a daycase centre, diagnostics and an unproven scheme to move care to the home - with no plan B,” said Keep the Horton General chair Keith Strangwood.

“North Oxfordshire lives will be put at considerable risk, due to lack of money. The meeting was a disaster; the plan is going to be a disaster.

“This consultation is all wrong and shows the CCG is going through the motions of hearing people’s views, not really wanting to understand them, or provide what Banbury really needs.

“They have got it wrong all the way through. Until four days before, they were hoping to have a propaganda meeting around tables, restricting Banbury’s public event to 100 people, until they realised we were not putting up with that.

“The meeting was held just ten days after the release of the Oxfordshire Transformation Plan – part of the NHS-wrecking Sustainability and Transformation project.

“It has been two years in the making in total secrecy and they expected Banbury to have read and understood 300+ pages of unevidenced, sometimes unintelligible information composed to justify downgrading the Horton.

“The meeting was meant to be for them to hear the people of Banburyshire’s views, not to spread more expensive propaganda about how great the JR is and thus how inadequate the Horton is, in their 35 minute video presentation which is going to be part of their methods of convincing people elsewhere in Oxfordshire that the Horton is not safe and must be turned into a day centre.”

Dr Peter Fisher said: “More drastic reductions in the in-patient services at the Horton were put forward as options in earlier planning meetings and will be considered, with the children’s ward and A&E in the second phase of this consultation later in the year.

“It is significant that when the OCCG was asked what beds the Horton will have this time next year, there was no reply.

“It is proposed to make permanent the reduction in medical and trauma beds which took place suddenly and without consultation last year. The difficulty in finding beds now for patients in A&E is the result.

“The downgrading of the critical care unit will mean any patient needing a ventilator will have to be transferred to Oxford.

“The policy on stroke patients was not made clear. Whilst it is generally recognised patients with an acute stroke benefit by having emergency treatment in a large centre they should return for rehabilitation to their own locality. It was not confirmed that those from the Banbury area will come back to the Horton.”

David Smith, chief executive of the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group which is running the consultation, said: “The members of the Oxfordshire Transformation team who were at the event in Banbury last week were pleased to see so many people attending. A lot of people in the audience were able to ask questions in the 90 minutes following the half hour presentation. Those who didn’t get the opportunity have submitted their questions on postcards, which will be answered as quickly as possible online.

“The proposals under discussion have been put forward for consultation after a lot of detailed work and input from clinicians, patients and the public.

“At the heart of these changes (in maternity and obstetrics, planned and critical care, stroke services and the use of hospital beds), is our aim to ensure safe, high quality healthcare for everyone. Of course, we understand that patients in North Oxfordshire are concerned about the proposals and how they might affect them and that is why want to hear from everyone who has a view.

“There will be another public event in Banbury in March and there is a huge amount of information on the Transformation website http://www.oxonhealthcaretransformation.nhs.uk/and the opportunity to have your say in a number of ways www.oxonhealthcaretransformation.nhs.uk/get-involved

“The Transformation team will be travelling across the county and beyond to attend public meetings where we really want to hear how the proposed changes to some health services will affect patients. We also want to hear from people who may have thought of other solutions to the challenges we face.

“No decisions are being taken until the consultation is complete and the public’s views are taken into consideration.”

Campaigner and blogger Sophie Hammond, who last week published an obituary for the NHS, said: “The 35mins on incredibly patronising videos took 35 minutes of our time. If hospitals are hotbeds of infections, clean the place. And the simplistic idea that anyone with a low risk pregnancy can go to an midwife led unit (MLU), risk-free is irresponsible.

“They talk about a case for change; it is a case for investment.

“One CCG GP contradicted herself, first saying that if any of her family were pregnant, she would want them to go where the expertise was, then 20 minutes later saying she agrees with the NICE guidelines, flawed in themselves, that low-risk mothers are ‘safer’ in midwife led units.

“They all seemed to have been brainwashed themselves. But they haven’t brainwashed us. May they all live to regret their trigger-happy attitude to healthcare.”