Horton petition is taken to Number 10

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Horton General Hospital campaigners took their 20,000-signature petition to No 10 Downing Street on Monday.

A coachload of Horton supporters joined campaign groups from all over England in the capital to protest about cuts to district general hospitals such as Banbury’s.

Campaigns from towns all over the country converged first in Trafalgar Square where Keep Our NHS Public and speakers from every group encouraged the crowds to galvanise opposition to Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STP).

Keep the Horton General (KTHG) chairman Keith Strangwood handed Banbury’s opposition to removal of consultant-led maternity to the Prime Minister’s residence watched by Baroness Billingham of Banbury who had left business at the House of Lords to support the town’s efforts.

Mr Strangwood said: “We have handed over to Number 10 nearly 20,000 individual protests from Banburyshire people who are in total opposition to downgrading of its district hospital.

“All the other groups with us on Monday are suffering the same loss of services as part of the STP process. Many groups were unable to attend because of the distance and work commitments – but this is happening everywhere.

“It is important people are aware these cuts in services are part of a nationwide revamp of the NHS which is aimed at ending 24-hour inpatient care in local hospitals and centralising consultant-led care in vast, often inaccessible, city-centre hospitals.”

The Banbury group was part of a nationwide Anti-STP movement that held a rally in Trafalgar Square before moving down Whitehall to Downing Street, then to the Department of Health and the Houses of Parliament.

Campaigners from Banbury, Grantham and Huddersfield took television camera teams along. Others included Stafford, Lewisham, Ealing, Charing Cross and Hammersmith, Barnstaple, Wycombe, Poole and Epsom.

Baroness Billingham said: “We won this battle before and we will win it again.”

The Sustainability and Transformation Plan for Oxfordshire – which will include the Horton and other health services in Banburyshire – is expected to be revealed in November when the head of NHS England publishes his consultation guidelines for STPs.

Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG), Oxford University Hospitals Trust and Oxfordshire County Council have been liaising on the plan which aims to take patients out of hospitals and treat them in nursing homes or in their own homes.

Teams provide ‘Acute Hospital at Home’ so patients may be taken home, visited frequently and treated there to avoid use of hospital beds.

The Horton General Hospital is to be subject of a service review which could mean a loss of core services, and patients having to access care at the JR, Oxford.

Public consultation on the future of the Horton will take place from late December but will be combined with the entire change in the way the NHS is run in Oxfordshire to include social care.

The Postgraduate Dean, who decides which hospitals are allowed training recognition – meaning doctors may do part of their practical training there – is to appear at next Friday’s (October 21) Community Partnership Network in Banbury, raising fears more restrictions may be placed on the Horton, which lost maternity accreditation in 2012 and training recognition for paediatrics in 2006-07.

The recognition was removed because trainees are deemed to need more experience, more quickly than smaller hospitals can provide.