Horton Hospital campaigners head to Oxford to warn of cuts dangers

Campaigners from Banbury, Witney, Oxford and elsewhere in the county are converging on the county council HQ today (Thursday) to call for a halt to drastic cuts in health services.

Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 2:26 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 4:13 pm
Keep the Horton General campaigners are heading to Oxford. Photos by Mark Bigelow

Campaigners from Banbury, Witney, Oxford and elsewhere in the county will be converging on the county council HQ on Thursday, November 17, to call for a halt to drastic cuts in health services.

Additionally a coachload of Horton supporters will join other demonstrators in Oxford city on Saturday, November 19, in a bid to raise awareness of how loss of acute services in Banbury will affect health services for the rest of the county.

At Thursday’s meeting, campaigners will greet members of Oxfordshire County Council’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) with banners and flyers describing the dangers of new plans to axe Horton services, close community hospitals and attempt to offer acute treatment in patients’ homes.

The plans are part of the Oxfordshire element of Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STP) - a government bid to slash NHS funding by £22 billion over the next four-five years.

Bill McKeith of Keep Our NHS Public, Oxon - which has joined forces with Keep the Horton General Campaign group (KTHG) - said: “The plan - which Oxfordshire health bosses have been ordered to keep secret - includes closure of all acute, inpatient services at the Horton - including maternity, children’s ward, trauma and A&E.

“We’d like people to join our lobby to call on councillors to publish the secret STP in full and to call for full public consultation before contracts are signed with healthcare providers.

“Failing this, councillors should oppose the plan.”

The campaigners will meet outside County Hall, in New Street, Oxford early Thursday morning. The HOSC committee meeting begins in public at 10am. Members of KONP and KTHG will address councillors.

Campaigners from Keep the Horton General and the Save Our Horton Facebook group will travel to Oxford on Saturday.

Chairman Keith Strangwood invited all Horton supporters to join the group in the city centre and East Oxford from 10am-2.30pm.

He said: “We will be armed with our placards and leaflets detailing how removal of services at the Horton will affect all communities in Oxfordshire.

“We will also be distributing a sheet on key Sustainability and Transformation Plan’(STP) facts.

“This surreptitious process has received remarkably little publicity despite potentially changing our National Health Service for ever,” said Mr Strangwood.

‘The purpose of our event is two-pronged. We will be informing the public about the damage that is being inflicted on local services by the Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust and Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group.

“But at the same time the whole NHS is being threatened by Simon Stevens’ draconian plans, via STP, for swingeing cuts across the board.

“We are very fortunate to have supporters who care not only about their local hospital but hospitals across the land.

“They are giving up their time on Saturday to inform and communicate with Oxford’s Christmas shoppers. I am proud of every one of them,” said Mr Strangwood.

Anyone wanting to join the coach trip to Oxford should book a seat by calling 07740599736.

Horton and NHS supporters in Oxfordshire can find out more by visiting www.keepthehortongeneral.org and keepournhspublicoxfordshire.org.uk.