Public consultation on loss of the Horton’s consultant-led maternity unit, medical beds, trauma, paediatrics and A&E is to begin on Monday.
The loss of services in Banbury feed into a nationwide plan of ‘sustainability and transformation’ which seeks to close or downgrade some 34 district general hospitals, centralising care at large city hospitals.
The STP also aims to remove the children’s ward, trauma, downgrade intensive care and turn A&E into a minor injuries unit.
The consultation for the STP for Oxfordshire had been scheduled for the end of May but adverts appeared this week announcing consultation beginning on Monday.
The process of Sustainability and Transformation is part of a huge change in government policy for the NHS.
The plans include closing hospital beds, centralising acute care to large city hospitals and creating diagnostic and day-case services in district general hospitals that have traditionally provided six core, acute services.
These include consultant-led maternity, special care baby units, paediatrics (specialist children’s ward), A&E, adult acute medicine and trauma.
A Banbury public meeting is to be held on Thursday, January 26 but Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group has not yet confirmed a venue.
Keep the Horton General (KTHG) campaign group, set up in the 1990s to protect local services for Banburyshire, has come out fiercely against STPs which are set to return sick and injured patients to their homes, to be cared for by visiting teams and 180,000 Banburyshire patients to travel to Oxford for doctor-led care and emergencies.
“We are going to be fighting relentlessly for Horton services and for a reinstatement of full maternity and the acute medical and trauma beds that have already been taken away without proper consultation,” said Keith Strangwood, chairman of KTHG.
“We are sitting on a long list of horror stories since December about patients waiting in corridors, dangerously ill, unable to be admitted to a bed because the OUH has closed beds without providing any alternative provision.
“This is happening in hospitals all over the country as hospital managers close A&Es, maternity units and other departments citing no staff. They are avoiding obligatory consultation on the basis that they need to make these closures for safety reasons.
“This is playing right into the STP plans for downgrading district hospitals up and down England. Banbury cannot do without its Horton acute services.”
The STP has been designed over the past two years with a goal of lopping £200m off the expected budget.
“The public needs to be aware that this is a deliberate attempt to turn the Horton into a daycase unit and we are opposing it vigorously. We are also supporting other campaigns across the country and joining demonstrations calling for a complete reversal of the STP policy,” he said.
“There are several demonstrations this spring starting with one on January 28 and we have a coach going from Banbury to London. We invite as many people as possible to come along.
“If we are to continue having a National Health Service that offers humane care in districts like Banburyshire, we have got to get STPs stopped.
“Remember. It was only the outcry by the people united, that defeated the Poll Tax plans. We must all unite to stop STP.”
To book a seat on the coach to the demonstration contact Mr Strangwood on 07740 599736.