The chairman of Keep the Horton General (KTHG) campaign has said it is both ‘good news and bad news’ that £2.36 million will be invested into the hospital to redevelop its endoscopy unit.
An inspection earlier this year by JAG, the national quality assurance body for endoscopy, identified two issues at the unit which concerned its same sex policy compliance and sub-optimal decontamination facilities.
Initial plans to redevelop the unit were calculated at £4.1 million, but on further discussion with JAG, another solution was developed which would cost £2.36 million. The amount was approved at the Oxford University Hospital NHS Trust (OUHT) board meeting last Wednesday.
And while the amount will secure the future of endoscopy services in Banbury, Keep the Horton General chairman Keith Strangwood added there would be ‘no gain without pain’ and referred to the 1,300 patients currently in Banbury who would be temporarily taken to Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital while construction work lasts four months.
He said: “Obviously it is great news that this investment will be put into the Horton General Hospital but the biggest worry is that they are starting work in September and finishing in January. We have got concerns of mistrust with the OUHT because of what they did with the emergency services in Banbury, saying that it was a temporary suspension to then be made into a permanent solution.”
Following the OUHT meeting it was agreed the trust would use a pod-based system at the Horton to achieve single sex compliance. It would mean that instead of separate male and female recovery areas, one recovery area would contain ‘pods’ – a bed space contained within three walls and a curtain.
Failure to address the two issues would result in the hospital losing JAG accreditation and limit the work that could be undertaken in Banbury, meaning its bowel screening programme would be removed wholly to Oxford.
Also approved at the meeting was £310,000 to be used to relocate the service to Oxford while construction work is taking place. Provision will be made for the transport of patients from Banbury for planned endoscopy. Additional revenue funding of £47,000 per year was also approved for further additional maintenance costs.
A temporary theatre will be available at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford using its existing decontamination facilities. For patients living in Banbury and the surrounding areas, the OUHT are exploring options of providing transport to and from Oxford.
Inpatients requiring emergency endoscopies, which are relatively few in number, will be accommodated within the Horton General Hospital theatres.
A KTHG meeting at Cherwell District Council was due to take place last night (Wednesday) to talk about the announcement, but Mr Strangwood added services at the John Radcliffe are already full to capacity and this temporary solution would only add more pressure on staff in Oxford.
He said: “Even the report says this mobile facility in Oxford would put further pressure on the JR service, it does not have the capacity.
“We want to know what the details are about transporting patients to Oxford as there are none in the report whatsoever.”
Andrew Stevens, director of planning and information at OUHT, said: “I am delighted that the Board have approved this further £2.6 million investment in the future of the Horton. The Trust is committed to providing as many services as possible locally for people and endoscopy is one of those services.
“This investment will secure the future of endoscopy services at the Horton and so prevent people travelling unnecessarily in the future. The capital investment will improve facilities to bring the up the very latest standards set by the national quality assurance body.
“During the construction period patients needing an endoscopy, unless they are inpatients at the Horton, will need to travel to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. For about 25 per cent of patients currently using the Horton this will not make a substantial difference, as they live equidistant between Oxford and the Horton.
“We are looking to see how we can help with transport for other patients who will be travelling further with any transport. We had wanted to provide temporary facilities at the Horton, but unfortunately this was not possible because of the very specific requirements.”