MP calls for halt to consultation on changes at Horton Hospital after key figures announce they are stepping down

Horton Hospital campaigners NNL-170629-093820001
Horton Hospital campaigners NNL-170629-093820001

North Oxfordshire’s MP, Victoria Prentis has called for the consultation on changes to health services in the county to be suspended after two key people at the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group announced their departure.

Dr Joe McManners, clinical chair of the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG), and David Smith, OCCG chief executive, are stepping down from their roles.

The OCCG has been overseeing the consultation on changes to health services in the county including the downgrading of the Horton Hospital.

Dr McManners has decided not to seek re-election to the post in February 2018 and will be standing down as soon as a successor has been appointed while Mr Smith plans to retire from his role at the end of December. He has been at the helm of the OCCG since 2014.

Mrs Prentis said news of Mr Smith’s retirement had come as a ‘surprise’ as he would be leaving while the county was half way through its transformation programme process.

She said: “We have never had an easy relationship in my time as an Oxfordshire MP, particularly when it comes to the Horton General Hospital. I am also disappointed that Dr Joe McManners has decided not to seek re-election, although I understand his position given the difficulties general practice is currently facing.

“My constituents and I are still waiting for decisions to be made regarding the Phase One consultation. It had been anticipated that Phase Two would start at the end of this year. I am not sure how a change in management will affect this. I remain concerned about the future of health services in Oxfordshire, particularly in the north of the county.

“David Smith and Dr McManners had a key role in compiling the consultation document yet they won’t be around to see any of the changes through. The consultation process must be stopped. While such uncertainty could delay matters further, I am hopeful that a change in leadership may allow the opportunity for a new vision for health services, ensuring that they remain safe, kind and close to home. The Horton General Hospital remains my number one priority.”

Dr McManners said he wanted to focus on his role as GP at Manor Surgery, in Oxford.

He said: “I have found the role of OCCG chair very rewarding and feel honoured at the support I have received from all my dedicated colleagues – both my fellow clinicians and all the managers.

“Demands on health and social care services continue to rise each year and financial pressures have increased significantly in recent years.

“Despite these pressures, the CCG has made advances in improving healthcare in the county – from our pioneering outcomes based services for mental health care, to improved cancer pathways and prioritising health inequalities in Oxfordshire.

“There is still much to do and times are difficult, but I am confident the CCG and its health and care partners will continue to do the very best for the people of Oxfordshire. I wish them all well for the future and I hope to continue in my involvement in primary care development and health inequalities work.”

Mr Smith said: “I came to Oxfordshire three years ago but have now reached a time in my life where I am keen to reduce my work commitments, after more than 40 years of working in the NHS. Whilst I am retiring from full time work I will be continuing to work on a part-time basis in other areas.

“I am very proud to have led the CCG over these past few years and I am particularly grateful for the support which my colleagues across the organisation have given me. We have achieved a tremendous amount together. We can be proud of the services we commission for the people of Oxfordshire and the improvements we have made to ensure people get safe, effective and high quality healthcare. I wish all my colleagues the very best for the future.”