Councillors to discuss a new solution for Banbury’s Horton

Chairman of CPN, Cllr Andrew McHugh and right, KTHG chairman Keith Strangwood. NNL-160507-102959009
Chairman of CPN, Cllr Andrew McHugh and right, KTHG chairman Keith Strangwood. NNL-160507-102959009

District councillors, keen to see the full Horton maternity service reinstated, are to consider new plans for examination by a ‘Super HOSC’.

Cherwell District Council is to discuss a blueprint for a new consultant maternity unit with its own ‘alongside’ midwife-led birthing centre.

The proposal will be introduced by the council’s portfolio-holder for health and wellbeing, Cllr Andrew McHugh, who told Banburyshire health services stakeholders of the initiative at a meeting on Tuesday.

He told the Community Partnership Network: “There will be a (new) option which is how we can achieve an obstetric unit at the Horton with an alongside midwife-led unit.

“I won’t go into details but that will be released and made available to the (Horton) Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee before it meets on September 28.”

Cllr McHugh said he hoped details would be shared with stakeholders ‘very soon’.

It is understood the plan has not yet gone through the district council’s internal processes where it is hoped it will be officially adopted.

Mr McHugh told the Banbury Guardian: “It is Cherwell District Council’s wish to see obstetrics re-instated at The Horton.”

The Horton HOSC will re-examine seven options used by NHS bosses in 2016 to 2017 to decide Oxfordshire’s future obstetrics services.

They ranged from the then-status quo (consultant-led units in Banbury and Oxford) to the option that was adopted – a single obstetric unit at the JR with stand-alone midwife-only units at Banbury, Chipping Norton and south Oxfordshire.

The Horton obstetric unit was replaced by a midwife-only unit in October 2016, since when the number of births in Banbury has plummeted.

Jenny Jones, of Keep the Horton General, voiced concern one of those seven proposals on the Horton unit’s future hadn’t been included in material for the new committee, calling for the Horton HOSC to ‘get all the back-up paperwork.’

The option suggested Banbury retain its obstetric unit and become viable by undertaking all or most of the county’s planned caesarean section births to prevent the closure of the Horton obstetric unit.

“It was not a ‘back of an envelope’ job. It was 14 pages of detail by somebody who knew the ins and outs. It’s important that paperwork goes to the Horton HOSC – and the subsequent correspondence,” said Mrs Jones who called for copies of the proposal, its rejection, a rebuttal of that rejection and a subsequent response.

Diane Hedges, of Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The whole intention of this approach is to look at absolutely every single option there is and give everything a good shake and look and see what we can do to address obstetrics in the best way.

“This is about getting the best obstetric service for all geographies.”

Mrs Jones said: “We must remember patients in the south of the county have much better choices. They are not confined to the JR whereas here, it’s a desert.”

The OUH no longer offers mothers a planned caesarean as a birth option. Those who want one must go out of county.

Keith Strangwood, KTHG chairman said: “It could be promising. If the council has come up with another option which includes full obstetrics and an alongside MLU that can only be good. It means we are putting our faith in our local elected representatives.”