A&E journeys from Banbury to Oxford would be ‘madness’

The Horton General Hospital, Banbury.  NNL-160816-115751009
The Horton General Hospital, Banbury. NNL-160816-115751009

Figures from an independent health charity show that patients from Banburyshire would have to travel some six times further than the average person to reach an A&E if the Horton’s unit were downgraded.

The Nuffield Trust’s 2014 report shows that the average distance patients have to travel from home to an A&E department is 7.2km (4.2m).

The distance from the Horton to the John Radcliffe – as stated in the Sustainability and Transformation Plan that would centralise all acute care – is 41km (25.5m).

The survey was conducted on 13 million attendances in 2001-12 of which 84 per cent were by people living within 12km (7.5m) of a major A&E department.

“Very few people (three per cent) were admitted to a hospital over 30km (18.6 m) away from home,” said the report.

“There was considerable variation in the average home-to-hospital distances by local authority. The shortest average distance was 2.5km (1.6m) for residents of the London Borough of Camden and the furthest was 34.2km (21.3m) for people living in the Eden District of Cumbria.

Statistics provided by the Oxford University Hospitals Trust on A&E visits to the Horton show that between 2015 and 2016, 38,967 patients were seen. The John Radcliffe figure was 106,506.

Keith Strangwood, chairman of the Keep the Horton General Campaign said: “This takes us back to what the Independent Reconfiguration said in 2008, that Oxford is too far; that transferring patients that distance would be unsafe and inhumane.

“Closing our A&E would be insanity, madness. This is all about ‘sustainability’ and what it would do is transfer the cost of cuts to the patients.

“But it is not clinically sustainable. How could clinicians say it is safe? It certainly isn’t what the 47 GPs who wrote to the Oxfordshire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee wrote. They certainly do not think it is safe.

“This is the government telling NHS England what money it can have instead of what it needs and NHS England has told the trusts they won’t get a penny more.”