Survey of Banbury area patients shows huge support for Horton

Campaign chairman Keith Strangwood at a recent demonstration outside the Horton maternity unit
Campaign chairman Keith Strangwood at a recent demonstration outside the Horton maternity unit

Residents of Banburyshire are overwhelmingly against plans to remove consultant-led maternity and other acute services from the Horton.

A survey by Keep the Horton General (KTHG) was issued after hospital bosses in Oxford sent a complicated questionnaire out to a limited number of trust members in an information-gathering exercise to inform its downgrading plans.

The KTHG survey, which has had over 2,100 submissions, is still open. Its findings show 98.7 per cent of respondents oppose downgrading of maternity, to provide home birth in hospital without consultant care or access to specialist operations.

Opposition figures are even higher for replacing A&E with a GP-led minor injuries unit, at 98.9 per cent. And 97.9 per cent oppose the loss of a 24-hour children’s ward with paediatric specialists in attendance.

Plans to end consultant services in Banbury were firmly rejected by the government’s independent panel in 2008 on the grounds of danger to life and inhumanity to patients in labour, ill or injured because of the distance to Oxford.

As well as huge opposition to any prospect of downgrading the Horton those filling in the survey used comment spaces to air their views and to express their priorities for the Horton.

One said: “I am outraged this is being put forward; I have lost my GP practice already. We cannot lose a vital hospital. My first son was an emergenc-section at the Horton, a surprise breech baby, very quick delivery and his leg was twisted. If there had only been midwives there, he would no doubt have arrived in an ambulance on the way to the JR and been left with numerous injuries to his hip - and to me. We were both fine, thanks to an excellent emergency section, 15 minutes after it was spotted! The long term costs of these plans is ridiculous.”

Another said: “The downgrading of the Horton is unsafe. The population and their needs are growoing all the time. Access to Oxfordhospitals is appalling and capacity for the increased patient-load is not there.

“If the services go, GP training will be threatened. There is an unprecedented crisis in Banbury practices whose GPs include those who have trained under the local shceme. Losing this will further impact on local recruitment problems and patients will be in real danger.”

A mother said: “A midwife-led maternity unit would result in death or disability for babies in distress. How much would it cost in compensation for potential claims for babies having cerebral palsy as a result?”

Yet another said: “We moved from Stratford to Banbury for the A&E. It should not change.”

Also from the first two of 115 pages of comments: “When my son was born he spent a week in special care. It was such a hard time for me and it meant so much that my husband could come and spend each day with us and get there quickly when any emergency arose.

“If services wre moved it would take twice as long to get there from Brackley. It scares me that our nearest hospital might be 45 minutes to an hour away. Having no Horton would mean an increase in ambulances called out and that service is creaking itself.”

KTHG chairman Keith Strangwood said: “The people of Banbury and many visitors to the town are absolutely appalled and utterly perplexed by Oxford University Hospitals Trust’s plan to decimate services at the Horton. When will OUHT start to listen to the people - the patients?”he said.

See and to complete the survey visit