Moving services from Banbury’s Horton ‘makes no economic sense’

Banbury Hoton Hospital
Banbury Hoton Hospital

A senior source at the Horton has written an open letter to the CEO of Oxford University Hospitals Trust asking him to spare services at the Horton so the JR in Oxford can cope better.

The writer asks Dr Bruno Holthof to understand how much good, local services mean to Banburyshire people.

The Horton is due to lose its consultant-led maternity service in two weeks’ time – along with cuts to trauma, orthopaedic and acute medical beds.

Reviews are being undertaken nationwide as the 44 new ‘footprints’, which have replaced the National Health Service, review services in a bid to save £22 billion by 2020.

The Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire footprint review includes downgrade options for the Horton. Trust bosses have yet to reveal whether they will propose leaving A&E in Banbury but the options presented earlier in the year suggest all other major services including the children’s ward will be ended.

The source says: “You are new to the UK and Oxfordshire and I’m sure much of the medical and political landscape is different to what you expected but I don’t think that you have really understood what a local hospital means to its population. North Oxfordshire is rural, the distances are large and the transport infrastructure poor. People do not want to travel more than they have to. Oxford may be a centre of academic excellence but that is of no interest to the majority who just want good local healthcare.

“Destroying the local hospital rips out the heart of the community and destroys more than you would ever imagine.

“But even if you are not interested in what the population of Banbury wants, or needs, then surely you should be interested in the economics.

“What you propose makes no economic sense for Banbury, for Oxford or the region. Moving patients who do not wish, or need, to be moved costs far more to the community and the wider economy than any possible savings. A fully functioning district general hospital in the north of the county would be best for Banbury and also, undoubtedly, best for Oxford. It is so clear Oxford cannot cope with what it currently has and would struggle with any more,” the source writes. This has been demonstrated by the difficulties the general surgical and trauma services have coping with patient volume in Oxford.

“Distributing patients more evenly between the two hospitals would allow a fully functional unit at two centres to the benefit of both. Oxford needs Banbury to be a fully functional hospital in order for Oxford to function as the tertiary centre it wishes to be.

“Banbury is a district general hospital. This means it needs a fully functional A&E department, acute general medicine, acute general surgery, paediatrics, maternity and trauma. A diagnostic centre is not a district general hospital.

“Destroying the Horton will cripple the JR. If you won’t listen to the needs of north Oxfordshire maybe you will listen to the cool economics and your own senior clinicians.

“Perhaps it is time to listen to Banbury rather than the ‘empire builders’ in Oxford who wish to destroy the north of the county but are likely to ruin everything – at what economic and personal cost?

“Are you visionary and can see a future that will ultimately result in cost-effective, high-quality healthcare for the Oxfordshire hospitals or will you be seen as the man who destroyed a much-loved hospital with worse healthcare for the whole of Oxfordshire?”