Horton ‘super’ committee will rule on maternity return

Keith Strangwood at The Horton General Hospital, Maternity Unit, in Banbury. NNL-160706-143901009
Keith Strangwood at The Horton General Hospital, Maternity Unit, in Banbury. NNL-160706-143901009

Banburyshire’s stakeholder group, the Community Partnership Network (CPN) has been told a new scrutiny committee made up of local councillors will decide the future of the Horton’s maternity unit.

Reinstatement would depend on recruitment of doctors.

Anita Higham NNL-140804-184641001

Anita Higham NNL-140804-184641001

The Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, dubbed the Super-HOSC or Horton-HOSC, was set up by order of the Secretary of State.

Health consultant Derek Smith, told CPN last Friday: “The timetable has already slipped considerably and we are going to go into the winter without this matter resolved.

“The principal instrument for the review of options appears to be the Thames Valley Clinical Senate which must be a concern because in its November 2016 report it opined that the obstetric service at the Horton could not be made safe in staffing terms. So isn’t the result going to be pretty much pre-ordained? The second danger is that it would also come rather late for the stakeholders to examine the result and there will be conflict that everyone wanted to avoid.”

Jenny Jones of Keep the Horton General called for the Horton HOSC to be allowed to consider a General Medical Council ruling that trainees could work four-hour shifts at the Horton. “That ought to be incorporated as an option along with non-training grades and consultants as one of the future options,” she said.

Cllr Andrew McHugh, chair of CPN

Cllr Andrew McHugh, chair of CPN

Chair Cllr Andrew McHugh said: “I think I speak for both sides of Cherwell District Council when I say the option we really want is for (Oxford University Hospitals Trust) to be successful in recruitment and for reinstatement of obstetrics and SCBU at the Horton.”

Paul Brennan, clinical director of the OUH, said: “My understanding is (the SuperHOSC work) is not going to be recreating additional options, it is reviewing all of the options that we considered as opposed to the final option that was chosen, but all of the options - having a single obstetric unit at the Horton, a single obstetric unit at the JR, an midwife-led unit (MLU) at the Horton, a 50-50 share with 3,000 births at the Horton and JR - that whole list of options has got to be looked at.”

Keith Strangwood, chairman of Keep the Horton General said: “With regard to that last option of a 50 - 50 solution with units delivering 3,000 births at the Horton and 3,000 at the JR, I actually laughed when I read the comment for rejection. It was because people at Oxford and south of Oxford would have to travel to Banbury.”

Anita Higham, representing patients and the public and an OUH governor, asked for reassurance that when the Horton HOSC considers matters it takes into account 30,000 houses being built in the Horton catchment area, each with an average 2.5 residents.

“That is happening in the next ten years. The future is a very different picture around here,” she said.