Campaigners call for surgery consultation

The meeting at Rye Hill Golf Club was packed with campaigners.
The meeting at Rye Hill Golf Club was packed with campaigners.

Keep The Horton General (KTHG) campaigners say a full consultation still needs to be carried out to make the decision to cut emergency surgery at Banbury’s Horton General Hospital legal.

Giving his reaction after a public meeting organised by the Oxfordshire Universities Hospitals NHS Trust (OUHT) and the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) at Rye Hill Golf Club last Wednesday, campaigner Dr Peter Fisher said the trust should bring back emergency surgery – cut in January last year – until a full three-month consultation process is conducted.

“I think emergency surgery should be restored until it’s properly investigated,” he said.

“The manner in which it was removed was improper and not according to regulations which state the trust has to consult its public when making significant changes.”

OUHT’s Clinical Director for Surgery, Nick Maynard, told last week’s meeting the trust was investigating removing emergency surgery from the Horton six months prior to January 2013 but had to implement the change “more quickly than expected” when three surgeons suddenly became unavailable, leaving only two on site.

He strongly denied suggestions the move had been “engineered” by the trust.

The meeting was held to test opinion in advance of an Oxfordshire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) meeting on February 27 which will decide if the trust should be ordered to carry out further consultation.

Bosses outlined a strategy which will see emergency care focussed on a large unit at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital, which they said is necessary to provide specialist care 24/7.

However campaigners were encouraged by a five-year plan for the Horton including expansion of assessment facilities to avoid “needless” transfers of patients to Oxford, a pledge of increased numbers of specialist surgeons to travel from the JR to operate in Banbury and a continued focus on elective surgery at the Horton.

There was also a pledge for £2 million investment in Horton buildings this year although OCCG announced it must save £20 million.

Dr Fisher said campaigners will now “push hard” to get the “best possible deal” on better assessment at Banbury.