Letters to the editor: September 15

A selection of letters from this week’s paper

I have just been made aware that the Horton General Hospital is once again under attack. Last time the hospital was threatened with downgrading I was living in Banbury and our campaign proved a success.

Whatever the pretext or excuse offered for downgrading services, the fact of the matter is that 25 miles is still 25 miles.

If we didn’t have the hospital here, people would die on the way to Oxford or Northampton. It is impossible to avoid a 45-minute journey.

The question to the powers that be is, what genuine reason have you got to take these services away? Many lives have been saved by the Horton.

This new attack is scandalous. Other hospitals may also be fighting for survival but many of them have other hospitals nearby. We are a stand alone acute hospital and that has to be taken into account. Banbury is geographically unique.

I will be out on the roads with protesters, and first of all on Monday, October 10 when the joint campaigns demonstrations takes place at Downing Street, with Keep the Horton General and other district hospital campaign groups.

Baroness Billingham of Banbury, House of Lords

I’m encouraged that Victoria Prentis and her Conservative colleagues in surrounding constituencies are lining up with public statements opposing the suspension of consultant-led maternity services at the Horton.

As the difficulties with recruitment that have led to this crisis can be traced directly to a government policy of demoralising and undervaluing medical staff, it’s heartening to see so many politicians whose own party has overseen the dismemberment of the NHS apparently having such an epiphany.

If I were a cynic I’d say it’s only something they care about only when it’s happening in their own backyard or when the level of public concern reaches vote losing proportions. But my distrust could be easily dispelled by seeing these same MPs in parliament standing up to their own health minister to ensure that no one else will have to face the choices now being foisted on the expectant mothers of north Oxfordshire.

So I’ll be waiting for them to equally as publicly oppose Jeremy Hunt’s attack on the kinds of middle grade doctors that the OUHT board have said were so hard to recruit at the Horton, and to the removal of threats to other maternity and A&E departments from the latest round of NHS budget cuts rebranded as sustainability and transformation plans.

Otherwise the downgrade of maternity services at the Horton will be a perfect example of how the end of the NHS will come. Manoeuvred into extinction by temporary contingency plans and extraordinary general meetings. A carefully choreographed chess game played out by politicians and managers whose claims of support and excuses of circumstance will inevitably prove to be as hollow as a closed children’s ward.

Ian Middleton, Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, North Oxfordshire