A new coalition of NHS supporters across Oxfordshire is pitting its campaigning efforts towards saving Horton General Hospital services and others around the county.
The Oxfordshire Health Coalition includes members of Keep our NHS Public (KONP) Oxfordshire, 38 Degrees group, Labour and Green party activists and others.
Dr Ken Williamson, chair of Oxon KONP said: “We are all coming together under one banner because of the urgency and seriousness of the situation in the health service.”
Oxfordshire has been put into a region with Berkshire and Buckinghamshire to form the BOB ‘footprint’ which has submitted plans to NHS England for cuts that will change access to local health services.
The Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) includes a downgrade of the Horton that would see permanent loss of consultant-led maternity and Special Care Baby Unit, the 24-hour children’s ward and its specialists, trauma and adult medicine.
A&E is included in one plan but the STP has been drawn up in secret and Oxfordshire health bosses refuse to say whether it has been included in the downgrade proposal.
“Health campaigns in Oxfordshire are finding common cause and coming together as a coalition against the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) Footprint, number 44, for Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and West Berkshire, known as the BOB Footprint.
“The campaigns are the Community Hospitals Campaign, the Keep The Horton General Campaign (KTHG) and Oxfordshire Keep Our NHS Public (OxonKONP).
“We all see STPs as the biggest threat to the NHS that governments have yet devised and have formed the Oxfordshire Health Coalition as a necessary step in in fighting their imposition.”
Keep the Horton General Campaign (KTHG) and members of the new coalition are travelling to Parliament tomorrow (Friday) for a rally organised by KONP’s national HQ in London.
They will protest against STPs and support the NHS Reinstatement Bill which is due to have its second reading in the House of Commons. The Bill would restore the NHS to a publicly funded and provided service and end privatisation.
Banbury’s activism and opposition to STP has played a substantial part in the rally being staged and speakers will include Prof Allyson Pollock, a professor of public health policy at Barts and Queen Mary University London and barrister Peter Roderick, who together drafted the NHS Reinstatement Bill.
Also appearing is Dr Jacky Davis, consultant radiologist, author and NHS campaigner, who will describe the new threats STPs pose to patients and the survival of the NHS.
Keith Strangwood, chairman of KTHG said: “In 2008, the Secretary of State agreed Oxford was too far for patients to travel safely when sick, injured or giving birth.
“The Oxford University Hospitals Trust has been gradually taking consultant-led services away to make a full STP downgrade easy. The dangers to patients are huge - accessibility and patient choice are becoming a horrible joke.
“Staff shortages have not been addressed, so they have avoided public consultation and centralised on safety grounds.”