Loss of anaesthetics training would be serious blow to Horton’s future

Keith Strangwood at The Horton General Hospital
Keith Strangwood at The Horton General Hospital

Changes in anaesthetics training at the Horton General Hospital could mark a serious blow in the battle to keep acute services in Banbury, according to a campaign leader.

Training places at the Horton are being suspended because of a ‘short term’ issue of vacancies in other hospitals.

Oxford University Hospitals Trust (OUHT) planner Andrew Stevens will tell Banburyshire stakeholders tomorrow that the Horton will get no trainees this cycle or next.

This, he will say, will leave the service in the care of the resident consultant rota.

In the meantime, the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) will decide on its plans to downgrade the Horton entirely on August 10. Its report is due out this week.

Keith Strangwood, chair of the Keep the Horton General Group said a distinct gap in anaesthetics training was very worrying in the light of loss of consultant-led maternity.

“If the Horton loses its Royal College anaesthetic training recognition it is another critical domino falling - what we’ve always warned about,” he said.

“Remove one major department, it compromises essential support. The deanery - which places training doctors - has decided our hospital is the one to lose trainees because other hospitals have a lot of gaps.

“And because we have already lost a lot of activity, the Horton is being made to do without trainee cover.

“It coincides with the plans to end full maternity permanently followed by consultatation on paediatrics which clearly can’t continue without retention of obstetrics.

“Without these departments, it is unlikely anaesthetics would be restored fully.

“It also comes as the trust has reduced intensive care beds to four and is planning to lower the level of critical care to omit breathing assistance for seriously ill patients.

“A&E cannot help but be badly affected in this scenario.

“This is a picture of dominos crashing all over the place and Banbury being left without its essential services,” said Mr Strangwood.

“The OUHT’s cost-cutting plans and the CCG’s reductions mean all the pain is being felt in the north of the county. It is not acceptable.”

A spokesman for re- elected MP Victoria Prentis said her focus at the moment was on Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group’s imminent report on the public consultastion into loss of 45 medical beds, consultant maternity. special care baby unit and reductions in intensive care.

The spokesman said Mrs Prentis had discussed the ‘domino effect’ of department losses and critical care with Dr Michael Bannon (the dean responsible for medical training placement decisions) ‘at length’.

The OUHT report to the Community Partnership Network meeting of stakeholders tomorrow (Friday) says the lack of training posts at the Horton’s anaesthetics department ‘will not impact on service as the resident consultant anaesthetist provides the relevant cover.

“In relation to the longer term the deanery has not made any decision about the posts... Maintenance of the resident consultant anaesthetist arrangements would mean that there would be no impact on service provision’.”

Critical care has been reduced from six to four beds offering only level two care - including support for single organ failure, post operative care and recovering level three patients.