Horton campaign group in special New Year message of thanks to doctors, nurses and the public

Banbury's hospital campaign group, Keep the Horton General, has offered a message of thanks to everyone keeping services going in Banbury.

Banbury's hospital campaign group is pictured taking the town's fight for Horton services to parliament in a big pro-NHS march
Banbury's hospital campaign group is pictured taking the town's fight for Horton services to parliament in a big pro-NHS march

The roll call stretches from fundraisers to the new Banbury United community lottery and the dedicated staff in the Horton's wards.

Chairman of the group, Keith Strangwood, said: "We are extremely grateful to everyone who has donated to our funds in 2019 by way of car boot sales, social events and through the Banbury United weekly lottery which is donating ten per cent of ticket sales to the Horton Fighting Fund.

"So far Banbury United has donated a very welcome sum and we are hugely grateful to the club and to the fundraisers who sell the tickets and everyone who has made an investment."

Mr Strangwood described the receipt of collections from funerals as 'humbling'.

"It is particularly humbling to receive collections, at a time of grief, from funerals. Thank you so much to families who chose to remember their loved ones by way of a donation to Keep the Horton General.

Mr Strangwood recalled the last year of campaigning by KTHG starting with an appeal in the High Court against the lawfulness of public consultation into the Oxfordshire Transformation Plan that permanently removed consultant led maternity from the Horton to Oxford, closed 45 beds and downgraded intensive care.

"In March we attended a hearing of our well documented case against the Oxford Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) held at the Royal Courts of Justice in London in front of three judges which included the second most senior judge in the land, the Master of the Rolls. The original decision was not overturned but to have such an eminent judge presiding over our appeal spoke volumes."

Mr Strangwood paid tribute to the group's campaigners who attended every meeting of the Horton Health and Overview Scrutiny Committee (HHOSC) which was convened, by order of the Secretary of State for Health, to investigate the removal of Obstetrics from the Horton.

"We applaud the councillors and Chairman Arash Fatemian for constantly challenging the representatives from the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUHFT) and OCCG. We witnessed requests for information ignored, obfuscation and denial," he said.

"Despite the outcome of a hugely expensive survey resulting in a vote for two consultant-led units in the county, the final decision by OCCG was that Obstetrics should not be returned to Banbury. Needless to say this is not the end of the line for HHOSC or KTHG."

Mr Strangwood said Keep the Horton General would be holding the new Conservative government to its promise to invest heavily in the NHS.

And in 2020 the group is commited to being as involved as possible in changes that will be forced by the huge new Integrated Care System, covering Bucks, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West.

"We want to ensure Banbury, which is on the area's extreme northerly edge, is not neglected, and of course that the Horton does not lose any more beds or acute services," said Mr Strangwood. "We will continue to press for a return of obstetrics to Banbury based on the growth in population and the continuing difficulty in access to the Oxford hospital sites."

"Last but not least we give huge thanks to all the hospital and ambulance staff who worked to keep our services available over the festive season."