Health chiefs intent on downgrading the Horton General Hospital are riding roughshod over government guidelines on consultation a retired education expert said this week.
Mervyn Benford of Shutford has written an open letter to Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group and the Banbury population saying north Oxfordshire is ‘under assault from platitudes and promises’ in the consultation paper describing plans to take £200m out of the Oxfordshire health system by 2020-21.
Mr Benford, experienced in consultation in the education sector, describes the pain suffered by people he knows of, including a woman who had to drive her son, in agony with appendicitis, to Oxford with a drip attached and a woman who had to drive herself to the JR maternity unit in advanced labour to be told she would have died if the baby had been born in the car.
He also mentioned a friend with cardiac problems who was told by Horton A&E consultants he would not have survived the trip to Oxford.
“How can we agree proposals obliging 25-plus-mile journeys to a city rarely far from congestion. (The consultation paper) has six lines of the travel issue only and a dreamland reference to 40-minute journeys,” he wrote. “Public sector consultations are typically steered to the decisions wanted and this Horton version is little different. Beware the ‘leading nature’ of the questions in the questionnaire.
“Dressed in devious assertion of so-called facts, the booklet suppresses what opponents might say with equally compelling evidence.
“The case ultimately hangs on removing patients rapidly to other responsibility, family, GPs and local authority carers – these last two agencies in a national (capacity) crisis.”
Mr Benford said there were no guarantees the provision described for acute care at home would be delivered and warned of horror stories to come.
“Sir Tony Baldry is so right. It is impossible to understand what is going on. Confusion is often a strategy. How do we think of bed removal when A&E and children’s services remain undetermined (until phase two of the consultation later this year).
“We can see the maternity ‘done deal’ was never temporary. Will the disinterested, shallow recruiting for obstetricians apply to carers or does OCCG already have private services in mind?
“How can we respond when the document says nothing about ambulances other than significant need, when the more hidden information admits the ambulance service has not yet responded?
“The first of just two meetings (in Banbury, comes) within days of anyone seeing the 48-page, complex document with advice to refer to far more detail on the website - and just two hours to give our views?
“Facts strewn on website documents should be summarised in the main document, which by High Court definition must be sufficiently informed to enable intelligent consideration,” said Mr Benford.
The first public consultation meeting takes place tonight (Thursday) at St Mary’s Church, Banbury from 7pm.
For more information about tonight’s meeting visit http://www.banburyguardian.co.uk/news/tonight-s-horton-downgrade-meeting-moved-to-st-mary-s-after-outcry-1-7787170.