Horton campaigners have received a huge boost today as the county’s health committee voted unanimously to refer the temporary closure of Banbury’s consultant-led maternity unit to the Secretary of State for Health.
The Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee, meeting day today (Thursday) in Oxford, took the vote on the grounds there was now no prospect of the Oxford University Hospitals Trust (OUHT) resuming the full service in March. The trust removed the consultant-led unit on October 3 last year, leaving a midwife-only unit, after it failed to recruit enough middle-grade consultants to provide a safe level of service
Charlotte Bird, press spokesman for the Keep the Horton General campaign group said: “I am so pleased the HOSC members reacted in the way they have to the email I sent them on Tuesday night pleading with them to do the right thing for the people of Banbury.
“With it was a survey conducted by Andrew McHugh that was available on the Keep the Horton General website and contained 250,000 words of comment. Unlike some questionnaires, it asked people their views about the future of Horton services; it was clear and people could answer easily.
“This decision indicates that councillors have shown their integrity and are not prepared to see acute departments taken from a catchment of patients nearing 180,000 and growing, to a hospital 25-plus miles away which clearly is already unable to cope with the extra workload.
“This vindicates the work of the core Keep the Horton General committee which has met on a continual basis since the last decision of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel in 2008, where they found that Oxford was too far for women in labour and extremely-ill adults and children to be transferred.
“Now that same group must start to prepare for another review by the IRP if, as he is bound to do, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt refers this whole issue back to the panel.”
Following today’s decision a statement from OUHT said: “We acknowledge the decision today made by HOSC to refer the decision to the Secretary of State and we will be liaising with HOSC to determine the next steps in this process.”