Trust bosses ‘have no will’ to recruit doctors for Horton, claims campaigner

Keith Strangwood, chairman of the Keep the Horton General Campaign
Keith Strangwood, chairman of the Keep the Horton General Campaign

Horton campaigners say they do not believe hospital bosses wish to find doctors to reopen Banbury’s maternity unit.

Keith Strangwood, chairman of Keep the Horton General Group said he thinks the Oxford University Hospitals Trust’s advertising for doctors to maintain safe rotas have not been times to ensure success.

Last week the OUH said it would not reopen the unit in March as it had failed to find sufficient doctors to keep the service safe. Campaigners say it ‘falls into line’ with plans to downgrade the whole hospital.

“There is no will to recruit the necessary doctors. They have known since 2015 they needed to find replacements for lost staff but they did not advertise until late April,” he said.

“Only two weeks later they announced options for loss of all acute services at the Horton. Any doctor thinking of applying for a job here is going to be put off immediately with such a dark cloud hanging over the unit,” said Mr Strangwood.

“And now the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) looks set to demand the permanent loss of all major departments including the children’s ward, maternity, medicine, trauma and A&E.”

On its website the trust says: “In April 2016, the Trust developed a new nine person ‘Trust Doctor’ rota for the Horton... to make the posts more attractive by allowing participating doctors the opportunity to get experience at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

“In the context of a national shortage of suitably qualified doctors, the Trust was not able to recuit anough doctors to fill the rota and it became necessary to take a decision as to whether obstetric-led maternity services could safely be maintained at the Horton.

“It was decided obstetric-led maternity services could not safely be maintained until the required number of doctors are in post and these services should be temporarily suspended with effect from October 3. The obstetric-led service at the Horton was converted to a midwifery-led unit as a temporary measure, with recruitment efforts continuing.”

Figures show 50 doctors applied for positions, 20 were shortlisted, 12 interviewed and one appointed. Nine applicatons are being sifted.