More services under threat at the Horton

The plan to radically change the way local NHS services are delivered has confirmed that acute services at Banbury's Horton Hospital will be under review.
The Horton General Hospital, Banbury.  NNL-160816-115751009The Horton General Hospital, Banbury.  NNL-160816-115751009
The Horton General Hospital, Banbury. NNL-160816-115751009

Urgent and emergency care, obstetrics and paediatrics services at the Horton are set to be considered following the release of the draft Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) yesterday.

While the plan did not reveal specifics of what the changes might be, it did confirm that the level of service at the Horton was under review and that a public consultation was likely to be launched in early January.

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The STP is part of a nationwide NHS initiative to change the way healthcare is delivered, concentrating on keeping patients out of hospitals and treating them in the community. There are also considerable cost-savings attached and the Oxfordshire part of the plan aims to plug a funding gap of £200 million.

The proposals for the Horton are part of the Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire & Berkshire West STP - one of 42 ‘footprints’ across England.

In the draft document section for Oxfordshire it said: “We are systematically reviewing all services commissioned for our population and developing improved options for out-of-hospital urgent care, planned care, maternity, children, mental health and learning disability, so reducing need for acute capacity.

“Our plan is to be in a position to launch public consultation on major changes to services in early 2017. At this stage in our process no decisions have been made, however it is probable that we will be consulting on: reductions in acute beds within Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; changes to our community hospitals; service changes at the Horton Hospital in Banbury (part of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust),”

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Another section of the plan said that as part of a review of acute services across Oxfordshire, the sustainability of emergency and urgent care, obstetrics and paediatrics at the Horton would be considered. This confirms what campaigners such as Keep The Horton General have been predicting since it first emerged in May that maternity services at the Horton were under threat.

The consultant-led maternity unit the Horton was removed in October this year on safety grounds after the Oxford University Hospitals Trust said it was unable to recruit enough doctors. A midwife-led unit currently operates at the Horton and the trust said it would return full obstetrics once doctors had been found, however in the light of the STP’s confirmation that now seems increasingly unlikely.