Hopes for the return of emergency general surgery (EGS) to the Horton General Hospital look to have been dashed after county councillors last week accepted trust bosses’ claims that the service could not continue.
However, Keep the Horton General (KTHG) campaigners have vowed to fight on and still insist removal of the emergency service from Banbury’s district general hospital warrants full consultation with the public.
They maintain the example of how consultation highlighted the dangers of removing maternity and children’s services in 2006 – leading to preservation of the wards – shows that examination with independent input could show a very different picture and need not be costly.
Dr Peter Fisher, a retired Horton consultant and KTHG campaigner, said: “We do not accept that a proper consultation now would not change the findings – it certainly did with the children’s and maternity services; nor would it necessarily be expensive. We are exploring what further action we could take and meanwhile have asked for a full report at the next Community Partnership Network forum on the measures OUHT plans to take to reduce the number of emergency patients going to Oxford.”
Members of the Oxfordshire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) last week rubber stamped the Oxford University Hospitals Trust’s action over a year ago to end the EGS. It now appears the move – apparently made within a week in January 2013 – had been under consideration for some time. KTHG chairman Keith Strangwood said holding a recent public meeting six miles from Banbury could not be called a consultation. He said: “I believe HOSC had an obvious reason to insist on further, correct and proper consultation but instead it agreed to accept removal of our service. It is important to note there is no north Oxfordshire representative on HOSC. If it had, I believe the outcome may have been different.”
He claimed the trust and clinical commissioning group had failed to carry out ‘correct and legally required’ consultation over removing a major life-saving service.
HE said: “Due to lack of local knowledge displayed by the HOSC group they may have made an unfortunate and possibly life-threatening decision by ratifying permanent suspension of EGS from our general hospital.”