Banbury's Horton campaign group is praised for its work by outgoing health chief
The outgoing chief of the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) has praised Keep the Horton General's (KTHG) work for its nationally recognised campaigning work.
Lou Patten attended last week's campaign group meeting before leaving her position as Chief Executive Officer of the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG), speaking to members about her time in office and what she had achieved to ensure the future and viability of the Horton.
KTHG's deputy chairman Charlotte Bird said: "Ms Patten was full of praise for the group and said that she and the Clinical Commissioning Group had learnt much from our endeavours.
"She said our group had been recognised nationally and that NHS England had taken note of our input in maintaining and expanding services at Horton."
Ms Patten - who steps down in March - told the meeting: "I have been extremely impressed by the role that Keep the Horton General Campaign Group has within the local Horton Hospital catchment area.
"The input from members is always articulate, well informed and presents a strong and coordinated patient voice. I have personally learnt a great deal from the group and I am delighted that they intend to work tirelessly to gain some much needed capital investment to ensure the Horton remains fit for the future."
KTHG chairman, Keith Strangwood, said: "We thank Lou Patten for recognising the input our group has had in shaping the future of our beloved Horton.
"We are volunteers who have laboured tirelessly to keep the Horton as a fully functioning hospital for Banburyshire residents. To have that recognised formally means a great deal. We will continue unabated. Look out for our re-branded banners."
KTHG, which has been in existence since the early 1990s (firstly as Banbury Health Emergency), has been fighting to protect acute and consultant-led services at Banbury's Horton General Hospital.
In 2007 it conducted a massive and successul campaign to prevent a full downgrade of the hospital, advanced by the then Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust.
With huge public support two years ago, it took legal action in the High Court against OCCG because it believed the group's public consultation on downgrading of the Horton had been unlawful.
Although KTHG did not win the case, judges found the public consultation wanting. Last year OCCG confirmed its plan to permanently downgrade consultant-led maternity to a midwife only service, close the special care baby unit, close 45 beds, remove stroke care to Oxford and reduce the level of intensive care available in Banbury.
During Ms Patten's contract at OCCG commitments have been made that A&E and the paediatric in-patient ward will be maintained into the future.
The Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust hopes to introduce more diagnostics, outpatients and day surgery to the Horton to relieve pressure on the JR Hospital and ease the travel difficulties experienced by Banburyshire patients trying to access care in Oxford.
In recent months and years the trust has introduced chemotherapy for some child cancer patients at the Brodey Centre and a renal dialysis unit to save kidney patients having to make repeated journeys to Oxford.