Health chiefs outline major shift on Horton plans

The fighting spirit  - one of the many occasions Banburyshire has turned out to support its hospital, this was July 2016
The fighting spirit - one of the many occasions Banburyshire has turned out to support its hospital, this was July 2016

A new document released by Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group at 4pm today, Thursday, looks set to calm many of the fears about the Horton’s future.

The document, The Oxfordshire Transformation Update (Paper No. 18/18), is due to go to OCCG’s board meeting next Thursday, March 29, at Banbury Town Hall and responds to recent developments in the fight for the Horton.

A spokesman for the OCCG said today: “The paper being presented to OCCG Board seeks approval for the way forward that will allow a new approach to engaging people in localities on the issues that affect them locally.

“If agreed, this would also mean no changes to A&E or paediatrics at the Horton or to the number of midwife-led units (MLUs) across Oxfordshire.

“This approach will be discussed at the Board meeting on Thursday, March 29.”

In essence the Board is being asked to abandon the controversial phase two of the intended consultation on the transformation plans, rethink how it consults and end the uncertainty on the potential impacts on the Horton and other services.

The changes to the obstetric service have already been put back up for a review, which the report also recognises.

Banbury MP Victoria Prentis welcomed the document: “The Oxfordshire Transformation Update is the clearest indication yet that the Clinical Commissioning Group is finally listening to all of us in North Oxfordshire.

“For too long now, the future of acute services at the Horton has been unclear. Today we have the answers we have been looking for. The uncertainty can be put to rest. A&E and paediatrics will remain at the Horton, and it is back to the drawing board with maternity.

“The decision to abandon Phase Two is long overdue. I am cautiously optimistic by the CCG’s suggestion to move forward with place-based discussions.

“Ensuring local residents feel that they have a genuine voice when it comes to the future of their health services, including community hospitals, is at the heart of any good consultation exercise.

“I urge the Board to agree to this new approach next week and will look forward to working closely with the Clinical Commissioning Group, particularly the Chief Executive Lou Patten.

“She may have only been in post since January but she is already making a positive impact on our local health service with her visionary approach.”

Her press statement also said that the Board Paper makes clear that the CCG is committed to produce a plan and undertake further work on the possible options for maternity services at the Horton.

The statement added: “Acting on the advice of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel, the CCG recognises that any further work must consider the views of mothers, families and staff, dependencies between services and the needs of all those in the Horton’s catchment area. Recruitment efforts must continue.”

See next week’s Banbury Guardian for further reaction.