Banbury hospital campaign group Keep the Horton General went to Westminster this week to ask MPs to heed new advice on scrutiny of NHS changes.
The group joined campaigns from around England in a meeting to tell MPs how, in some areas, lack of scrutiny was allowing detrimental downgrades and closures to be enacted undemocratically.
KTHG press officer Charlotte Bird said: “The event was organised by 999 Call for the NHS, a group that works to halt dismantling of local health services.
“The point was the need for genuine scrutiny and the lack of it in some areas.
“ That didn’t apply here as the Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee did refer downgrade of the Horton’s maternity to the Secretary of State who asked for advice from the Independent Reconfiguration Panel.
“The reason the Horton case is so important is because in this report the IRP called on the Department of Health and NHS England to extend scrutiny to new plans for regional ‘systems of care’ rather than single organisations such as the Horton.”
Ms Bird said this was critical, as it should subject new plans to impose strictly limited budgets on large areas for all health and social care to focussed examination and consultation.
The campaigners said they hoped MPs would press Health Secretary Matt Hancock to take up the IRP’s advice.
Banbury MP Victoria Prentis said: “Consultations and large-scale changes to health services can be particularly complex.
“In Oxfordshire we continue to question the methodologies used in previous consultation processes.
“The role of scrutiny bodies within local authorities and campaign groups cannot be underestimated. Scrutiny to ensure patient safety and choice is absolutely vital.”