Banbury campaigners give a guarded welcome to Horton’s IRP report

Horton campaigners joined thousands of others at the NHS in Crisis march in London NNL-180602-172716001
Horton campaigners joined thousands of others at the NHS in Crisis march in London NNL-180602-172716001

Keep the Horton General Campaign Group (KTHG) has urged caution over any expectations that the IRP report means an automatic return of obstetrics to Banbury.

Members of KTHG said in a statement: “There is much to be said for ‘reading between the lines’ into a report that appears to have kicked the ball into the long grass.

“It is easy to say it is a victory for the people of Banbury but KTHG urges caution.”

The group says the report falls short of key recommendations KTHG was hoping would be made.

Chairman Keith Strangwood said: “The report is full of advise/suggest/consider. When KTHG and Horton users wanted to see the word instruct. Some have prematurely welcomed this IRP report as a victory. It is not. It is another fence to get over in the effort to retain acute services at our hospital.”

Sue Edgar of Labour’s Health Matters group said: “Without this halt, OCCG and Oxford University Hospitals Trust would have happily steamrollered on to destroy an entire acute hospital and rip the heart not just out of Banbury but also many other thriving and growing communities across three counties.”

The group offered three suggestions – fill staff vacancies and restore full maternity services now; set up an all-party scrutinising committee of elected councilors to make sure future plans serve the people who elect them and put forward any future changes at the same time so there would be no ‘two-stage bureaucratic card tricks’.

“The situation now created by the IRP is not as clear-cut as our Conservative representatives and their supporters would have us believe.

“The Horton situation has to be seen in the context of what is happening to the NHS as a whole. So we’ll be keeping our own eye on all developments.”

Meanwhile Banbury MP Victoria Prentis has welcomed the IRP’s recommendation for further work to be undertaken before a final decision is made about the future of Horton obstetrics.

“I am extremely grateful to Oxfordshire’s Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee for their referral and to the IRP for their thorough assessment,” she said.

“It has been a profoundly difficult situation for all of us who use the Horton, particularly for those who have been affected by the closure of the obstetric unit.

“The IRP’s conclusion that further work needs to be undertaken comes as a huge relief and is recognition of what many of us have been saying repeatedly since the flawed consultation process began. Not only do they recognise the obvious interdependencies of services at the Horton but they make it very clear that consideration must be given to the provision of antenatal care, travel and parking arrangements and local growth before any final decision is made.”

For more information on the report click here.