Scores of GPs in Banburyshire have written to every senior politician in the area expressing their fear and opposition to the planned downgrading of the Horton General Hospital.
The 45 family doctors, on whose shoulders the burden of caring for sick, elderly and infirm patients will fall as hospital beds are discontinued, fear general practice will be threatened if Horton services are axed.
In a letter written to MPs, leading councillors, watchdog chiefs and the CEO of the Oxford University Hospitals Trust (which has already removed some 60 beds from the Horton since October) the GPs say: “As local GPs we would like to express our dismay and concern regarding the downgrading of the Horton Hospital.
“We feel this will have a huge impact on our patients and make it far harder for them to access healthcare services.
“We recognise that very specialist healthcare is best delivered in larger centres but what is threatened is the dismantling of basic services at the Horton such as Maternity and Child Health with the subsequent knock on effect on other specialities and ultimately their closure.
“Inequities in service provision across the county and neighbouring counties will be widened and this will disproportionally affect the most deprived.
“The downgrading will put further strain on an already stretched and vulnerable primary care service, both threatening its future and putting patients at increased risk of poor health.
“We would urge all involved to act now and prevent this ill-conceived and short sighted action,” wrote the doctors.
Signatories include GPs from Banbury, Bloxham, Brackley, Chipping Norton, Shipston on Stour, Bicester, Cropredy, Sibford, Kineton and Tysoe, Milton under Wychwood, Byfield and Shenington.
Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STP) for Oxfordshire include proposals to sent patients home after assessment to be cared for by an ‘acute hospital at home’ team for a maximum of two weeks, following which GPs would be expected to take responsibility. Four surgeries have closed in Oxfordshire this year because of a dire shortage of GPs.