Health bosses agree plan to retain Horton services

Lou Patten chief executive of Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group NNL-180304-112556001
Lou Patten chief executive of Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group NNL-180304-112556001

Oxfordshire health bosses have agreed a plan to retain A&E and the children’s ward at the Horton after a meeting in Banbury.

Lou Patten, chief executive of the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG), told the group’s board on Thursday (March 29), the two departments would be linked much more to community services to make the most of facilities.

The board accepted Ms Patten’s Oxfordshire Transformation Plan update which abandons the expected consultation for Phase Two of an overall blueprint that aims to take patients out of hospitals, treat more at home and integrate NHS and social care services.

The CCG has to cut £200m from the Oxfordshire budget by 2021.

Ms Patten said Oxfordshire University Hospitals (OUH) has made it clear the Horton’s A&E and associated services are needed to support their provision of acute care.

“There isn’t a co-dependency between the paediatric and obstetric services... the paediatric services have been continuing whilst the obstetric services have not, without any problems.”

Ms Patten said the midwifery units at Chipping Norton, Wantage and Wallingford would remain as long as mums used them.

And with reference to community hospitals she said one ‘could not consult on buildings’.

“There won’t be that Phase Two consultation described previously. It will be much more about that locality, place-based way forward,” she said.

Ms Patten said OCCG and a newly formed, cross-border scrutiny committee would undertake a more detailed appraisal of the options on Horton maternity which must include south Warwickshire and south Northants.

“We need to specifically address the wider view of looking at where our patients or mums come from and how best we can serve them.

“So that is ignoring the boundaries and looking at who uses the Horton Hospital.

“I’m sure the board and the public will have picked up that actually that has wider implications for how the general NHS starts to move towards looking at cross-boundary issues in the future rather than just its own populations.

“We need to look therefore at the activity that surrounds south Warwickshire and south Northants; we need to take into account the view of those mothers, families and staff who’ve been involved since the temporary arrangements came into force.”

Ms Patten said local authorities would come together to produce the new joint scrutiny committee – dubbed the ‘super-HOSC’ – and if the county councils wish, they could delegate that work to the district councils.

Keith Strangwood, chairman of the Keep the Horton General campaign group, said while it was good news that the OUH wanted to retain paediatrics, the trust could very soon go back on that if it became too expensive.

“We have always said the children’s ward is essential because the JR frequently sends up its overflow to the Horton,” he said.

“However without the consultant led maternity ward, it’s highly likely they will come back in a year or two, when the budgets are being squeezed again, to say they can’t justify a small, consultant-only paediatric department.

“The fact is Banbury is growing at a frightening rate. The town needs a fully operational, district general hospital that offers all the main, routine acute wards.

“We have never expected the highly specialised departments like cancer or cardiac services, but we do need all the wards people routinely need to have within reasonable reach of home.”