Horton maternity building will be repaired if new group orders its return

Cllr Andrew McHugh and right, Keith Strangwood of Keep the Horton General
Cllr Andrew McHugh and right, Keith Strangwood of Keep the Horton General

Hospital bosses say they ‘will have to’ repair the crumbling Horton maternity hospital if a new scrutiny committee demands that consultant led maternity is returned to Banbury.

Clinical director of the Oxford University Hospitals trust (OUH) Paul Brennan told a Banburyshire stakeholders meeting on Friday that making extensive repairs to the 58-year-old maternity building would depend on the outcome of re-examination of the evidence used to remove obstetrics to Oxford in 2016.

Mr Brennan was answering a question posed by the Banbury Guardian after receipt of a 2017 report on the condition of the maternity hospital which declared it needed work to the structure, complete replacement of windows, roof, electrical system and ventilation system – along with removal of asbestos - within three years, 15 months of which has passed.

The cost detailed in the report was put at £1.3m.

Mr Brennan said: “Clearly it depends on the outcome of the work of the joint Health and Scrutiny Committee (ordered by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel) but if the joint HOSC concluded (sic) that would have to be done.

Asked whether the trust would commit to finding the money if the ‘Horton HOSC’ requested consultant-led maternity to be returned to the Horton, Mr Brennan said: “We would have to, yes.”

Mr Brennan said the building was being maintained.

Community Partnership Network chairman Andrew McHugh said Mr Brennan had assured the meeting the maternity will be brought to a situation where it can be reactivated should that be the decision.

Mr Brennan said some of the Horton’s Special Care Baby Unit specialist nurses were working at the JR but that currently there were only six, where 12 would be needed to staff a re-established Horton obstetric unit.

There was a ‘major shortage’ of neonatal (SCBU) nurses, he said.

The ‘Horton HOSC’ is a Banburyshire-wide committee, which has been formed in the last three months following an order by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel in its report on a referral of the centralisation of the maternity service by the Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

The CPN meeting heard that this committee, which will for the first time give neighbouring Warwickshire and Northamptonshire an opportunity to be involved in examining decisions affecting the Horton, will go over all material and evidence used in justifying downgrading and make a recommendation on whether the service should be brought back to Banbury.

Keith Strangwood, chairman of Keep the Horton General group told the meeting the cost of the backlog of repairs and renovation of Horton buildings added up to over £10 million.