Campaigners disappointed after health plans which include downgrading Horton are not referred to secretary of state

Horton campaigners protesting outside the HOSC meeting at Oxon County Council on March 7. NNL-170803-113520001
Horton campaigners protesting outside the HOSC meeting at Oxon County Council on March 7. NNL-170803-113520001

Controversial plans which would see the downgrading of the Horton Hospital will not yet be sent to the secretary of state for health despite calls from campaigners.

At yesterday’s meeting of the health overview and scrutiny committee (HOSC) members asked representatives from the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group and the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust about proposals in the Oxfordshire Transformation Plan.

Phase one of consultation into the plan is currently open and includes plans to downgrade the Horton Hospital and move some services to the John Radcliffe Hospital.

Phase two of the consultation will begin in the autumn.

At the meeting, committee members voiced their concerns over the split consultation. Cherwell District councillor Ian Corkin said there were ‘significant flaws’ in the consultation process, adding the proposals disadvantaged the north of the county and unless those concerns were properly addressed, the proposals should be referred to the secretary of state for health, Jeremy Hunt.

Committee chairman Yvonne Constance suggested a further meeting could take place to allow more questions to be answered.

But with county council elections in May, proceeded by a purdah period, that meeting may not take place until after phase one of the consultation closes in April.

The purdah period prevents central and local government from making announcements which could be seen as giving advantage to any candidates.

The referral was delayed despite cries of anger from campaigners in the public gallery who believe the proposals should be sent to the secretary of state immediately.

Keith Strangwood, chairman of Keep the Horton General told the Banbury Guardian HOSC members should have shown ‘grit’ and made the decision to refer.

“They need to hold the next meeting as soon as possible,” he said. “The consultation will be finished on April 9. It should have been referred on Tuesday, but constitutionally, the HOSC have to give the CCG another chance. It’s disappointing they didn’t refer it. It is within their power to do so.”

He added KTHG were prepared to take the health consultation to judicial review.

At the meeting, OUHT chairman, Dr Bruno Holthof, revealed plans to create five multi-storey car parks at Oxford’s hospitals as part of a masterplan in a bid to solve problems with parking for patients.