Cherwell District Council, the lead claimant in the action against Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG), says is it working out its best approach for the full hearing it has won in the judicial review into the public consultation exercise on proposed Horton downgrades.
Cherwell was joined in the legal action by South Northants and Stratford-on-Avon district councils, Banbury Town Council and Keep the Horton General group as an ‘interested party’.
The councils argue the consultation was inadequate, fundamentally flawed and confusing for people who wanted to have their say on the future of their local hospital.
This week, a spokesman for Cherwell said: “Cherwell District Council is currently working closely with its partner councils and its legal counsel to agree the best approach to the (forthcoming) hearing.
“It remains fully committed to challenging the consultation process and some of the decisions of the OCCG regarding the Horton.”
The councils say the two-phase consultation process (with bed closures, consultant led maternity and intensive care in phase one with children’s services, A&E and primary care in phase two) was highly confusing for any ordinary member of the public who wanted to respond.
The councils have sought specialist advice from legal and medical professions to make sure the case was made as strongly as possible and to help put forward positive and imaginative proposals for the way the Horton can best serve the area in the years to come.
The ruling at the Royal Courts of Justice runs in parallel with three referrals to the Secretary of State of the process and commissioner decisions so that every avenue of challenge to these hugely unpopular health changes is pursued.