Group offers Horton consultation guide

The Horton General Hospital, Maternity Unit, in Banbury. NNL-160706-143655009
The Horton General Hospital, Maternity Unit, in Banbury. NNL-160706-143655009

A guide to help residents through the maze of confusing information in the Oxfordshire Transformation Plan (OTP) has been released this week.

The Keep the Horton General (KTHG) Consultation Guide contains five papers on the issues at stake, a glossary and a short-format letter based on evidence that people can use for their own information or to send to health bosses as their response.

The OTP consultation has been split, controversially, into two parts with permanent loss of maternity, medical and trauma bed losses, changes to stroke protocols and downgrade of critical care in Banbury in the first wave.

The second phase is expected to include loss of the children’s ward, downgrading of A&E and GP/primary care arrangements. The proposals are to downgrade the Horton, provide more rapid assessment beds in place of inpatient beds, and care for patients at home.

KTHG chairman Keith Strangwood said: “This guide has been written by a campaign team that has gone through several hundred pages of promotional blurb in the OTP.

“The problem for the public is that the ‘Big Consultation’ top copy alone runs to 43 pages and most of it is in health care jargon that ordinary folk aren’t used to.

“On top of that they cannot see through the language that has been developed to make downgrading the Horton sound full of advantages for Banbury.

“We have been through the plan and the pre-consultation business case (another 238 pages) and picked out numerous contradictions and ways in which we believe the plan is being presented to the public in a distorted way,” he said.

“We have come up with several sections which pick apart the claims and describe the consequences we believe will happen if this damaging plan is not stopped.

“We’ve also put together a short version that people can use to send to the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group as their response to the consultation.

“We believe the response sheet they have provided is incredibly slanted, giving the unsuspecting person no idea that they are being led down a road toward accepting downgrade of the Horton in exchange for outpatient services that should already be here,” said Mr Strangwood.

The consultation guide contains sections on maternity, the split consultation, GPs and primary care, consultation and engagement and a general paper including A&E, ambulance cover, funding, population growth, staff shortages and loss of beds.

There is also a glossary to take the reader through the plethora of acronyms.

Mr Strangwood said an example of what he claimed was misleading information came in a claim that only 400 births in Banbury had needed obstetric intervention while the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford had managed 5,800 obstetric cases. “No breakdown was given of which JR births did not need obstetric intervention. The true comparison should have been that the Horton’s obstetric unit managed 1,466 cases a year, which it did before the specialists were removed,” said Mr Strangwood.

“People who pay for the service and are patients deserve clear, understandable information; they should not be overwhelmed with reams of text they have no chance of understanding. That is not proper consultation,” he said.

For a copy of the KTHG Guide email keepthehortongeneral@hotmail.co.uk or call 07740 599736.