Members of the Oxfordshire Health and Overview Scrutiny Committee last week called for the 14-bed Chipping Norton Hospital to be included in a review of community hospitals across the county.
Chipping Norton Hospital Action Group (CHAG) which has been campaigning for the unit to remain under NHS staff care, want the contract that was passed to the Orders of St John Trust (OoSJ) this month to be suspended until the review is carried out later this year.
Oxfordshire County Council, which adopted responsibility for the beds two years ago, has since hit a financial crisis, admitting there is a staffing recruitment problem.
In a statement the council said: “In the short term we can’t support patients with nursing needs. We are working to rectify this situation with the Orders of St John as soon as possible.”
Clive Hill of CHAG said: “If this review is to be more than simple window dressing, steps must be taken now to ensure there is no contractual or employment reason why any review findings cannot be implemented.
“People in the community feel last year’s OCC consultation (on the handover to OoSJ) failed to comply with government guidelines because it was conducted with what people saw as a predetermined outcome.
“Confidence in any consultation process is now at a very low level or non-existent. We cannot afford a repeat of last year’s experience.
“We expect a review, if properly conducted and costed, will show an NHS-led service provided to community hospital (sub-acute) levels will prove to be the most cost effective overall for the NHS and taxpayer.
“Failure to provide the full service must represent a breach in the contract and as such it should be suspended and revert to Oxford Health (NHS) Foundation Trust until the review.