Tributes are pouring in for Sue Edgar, one of the Horton General Hospital's first campaign organisers, who has died
Mrs Edgar was one of the founder members of the Banbury Health Emergency (BHE) organisation formed in the early 1990s to defend and protect full district general hospital services at the Horton. This was later renamed Keep the Horton General which continues to fight to protect Banbury hospital services.
She was BHE's first secretary, working tirelessly with other NHS and Horton supporters to challenge attempts by the health authorities to remove or dilute acute services in Banbury. On the merger of the Horton with the John Radcliffe and Oxford hospitals into a single organisation (called a trust) she said the argument that money-saving job cuts would only affect the Horton's administrative staff was 'a lie everyone seems unprepared to address'.
In those early days as a young mother, she was often to be seen at campaign meetings or protests with a baby on her hip. She had two children, Libby and James.
Two decades later, in 2017, incisive as ever, she quickly sifted a hospital 'transformation' consultation paper and described it as 'just a promotion booklet for downgrading these departments... ludicrously slanted towards the outcome they want... a deliberate attempt to downgrade the Horton'
She had a sharp intellect and excellent knowledge of the NHS, the changes being imposed on it by government policy, and how these were being insidiously introduced. Her brilliant articulation matched that of any of her opponents and she was not intimidated by politicians at the highest level.
Sue had the gift of being able to effectively expose the truth behind dubious claims of 'improvements' being achieved for Banbury through centralising major services departments to Oxford.
She was one of the leaders of the 'March of the 5,000' in 1992 which processed from the threatened maternity unit at the Horton to Banbury Town Hall, surrounded the building and - through the chanting of the crowd - forced a critical hospital planning meeting to be abandoned.
Sue Edgar continued to use her thorough knowledge of politics, especially as they affect the health service, to help organisations trying to fight downgrading and privatisation, giving her invaluable services to Banbury's Labour Health Matters, which she chaired, and the Oxfordshire Socialist Health Association as well as being a constant supporter of Keep the Horton General.
A full tribute will be published by the Banbury Guardian next week.