MPs, campaigners, councils and the clergy descended on Oxford on Monday to plead for the Horton General
Hospital to be saved from downgrading plans.
Banbury MP Victoria Prentis, Robert Courts MP (Witney and Chipping Norton), Sir Tony Baldry, High Steward of Banbury and former MP, Bishop of Dorchester the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher, Keep the Horton General Campaign officials and Cherwell District Council chiefs appealed for plans that will devastate Banbury’s hospital to be dropped.
Oxfordshire NHS wants to make permanent the ‘temporary’ closure of the consultant-led maternity unit and Special Care Baby Unit (closed last October for staffing reasons), make permanent the premature closure of 45 beds, reduce intensive care levels to exclude ventilation and change stroke care.
Mrs Prentis said she was “anxious about the future of our hospital, frightened about the current safety of mothers and babies and angry about process”.
She added: “We know that there is a domino effect [when services are axed]. Last year there were two anaesthetic rotas at the Horton. One has gone since obstetrics shut. Health Education England – who oversee training accreditation – last month said they will remove training for certain grades. hey accept this will have an effect on recruitment – yet there has been a complete refusal to engage or accept this argument.”
Ian Davies, director at Cherwell, said: “In reality there was no interest whatsoever by the Clinical Commissioning Group in any solution other than that proposed in the consultation.
“The council’s obstetric proposal required the CCG to really challenge the Deanery over birth numbers for training accreditation, invest in the maternity unit and for there to be commitment to the Horton as an acute hospital, thus ensuring it would be a ‘birthplace of choice’.
“As well as obstetric support, an alongside midwife-led unit was proposed enabling women to have choice about the type of birth they were to have, with the security of medical intervention and anaesthetic support if required. The CCG has failed to fully consider this.
“The council’s proposal sets out a practicable and imaginative alternative model to that proposed by the CCG, based on national guidelines.
“This has not been given serious consideration by the CCG and is why this matter must be referred to the Secretary of State,” said Mr Davies.
“The council still has real concerns as reflected by local people about the actual consultation process – hence its application for a judicial review – and many of its proposals which it feels affects the overall viability of the Horton as an acute general hospital.”
Speaking after HOSC’s decision to refer, Victoria said: “The CCG Board now finds itself meeting on Thursday to decide on its proposals, yet there are three ongoing referrals to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel relating to the consultation, as well as an existing application for judicial review brought by five local councils.
“Against this background, I urge the CCG to pause any decisions until they are able to present us with a clear and full vision for health services in our area and can reassure us they have considered all proposals on the table, particularly Cherwell District Council’s Banbury Health Campus concept.”
Thursday’s CCG meeting is at 9.30am at the Examination Rooms, High St, Oxford.
Read more here ‘Horton maternity staffing no cause for permanent closure, says scrutiny committee.’ ‘Councillors and NHS chiefs go head to head over Horton staffing’ and ‘CDC offers Golden Hello’s for incoming Horton Doctors.’