Horton Hospital - More of your Horton views

More of your Horton views

- I, alongside about 800 other Banburians attended the meeting re the Horton Hospital on Thursday May 25, organised by our MP and apart from the few people who heckled, barracked and abused the panel of speakers from the trust and the commissioning group, I found it very informative, especially so the answers from Professor Kennedy who is obviously fully committed to maintaining a full consultancy-led maternity service at the Horton.

However, most of the audience didn’t seem to hear his answers, apparently convinced that there is a plan to not only downgrade maternity services but to close the Horton entirely.

Unfortunately the latter may indeed be the case in the long term. Why? Because the NHS is faced with ever increasing costs and the government is committed to cutting expenditure in the NHS and to encouraging private insurance schemes such as in the USA.

Thus we are faced with our MP and Conservative councillors crying crocodile tears over the loss of services at the Horton but at the same time supporting ever increasing cuts to the NHS nationally, including the imposition of new contracts on junior doctors and not enabling the trust to recruit qualified and experienced doctors to, for example, staff the Horton’s maternity services. Note the recent announcement of an NHS funding deficit of £23billion and the proposed cuts of over £5million to services in three counties including Oxfordshire.

The Green party is committed to a fully publicly funded NHS. Caroline Lucas MP recently proposed such a bill in parliament. It was opposed by the Conservatives and some Labour MPs. Need I say more?

John Haywood

Chairman of North
Oxfordshire Green Party

- The campaign to save the Horton continues.

An unremitting struggle, that seems to be the case with most of our services these days.

We all want better services. We all agree with the aims of the save the Horton campaign.

Could someone though please explain, how in a million months of Sundays, you expect to achieve these aims within a capitalist framework? Without creating a problem elsewhere.

The rather annoying fact is that you can’t. Monetary profit is going to take precedence every time and is going to leave us still protesting when our sun finally engulfs us and ends it all.

If you really want to save the Horton and have first rate services right across the board, then try getting rid of the problem. Money.

Free access to all goods and services. All for the price of a week’s work.

Colin Aries

Gatteridge Street


- We all know that the NHS is in deep financial difficulties. We all know that this is no different in Oxford from anywhere else.

Although central government may want mergers into super hospitals the population, especially the rural population, do not.

But there is a better way that can work for the centre and the periphery.

Not every doctor or nurse wants to be in an academic hothouse. This does not mean that they are not dedicated and competent clinicians.

Not every clinician wants to struggle with the difficult and complex and many are very happy to manage the routine and do so exceedingly well.

Many have called this ‘spoke and hub’ but perhaps now is the time to truly think about how this could work in a real situation.

If you have a small team of experienced clinicians working in the peripheral hospital, seeing and assessing patients on a daily basis, managing those that are within their capabilities and transferring to the centre those that are not then this is efficient and time and cost effective because clinical decisions are made early and by those with the capabilities of making these decisions accurately.

At the same time the centre transfers the routine, for want of a better word, cases for expedient management in the periphery allowing more time to concentrate on the difficult and complex.

When this pattern is established the referring GPs and the population will work this out for themselves. It does not need much of a push to get patients to go where they feel they will get the best care. For some this would be in the small peripheral hospital and for others it would be in the central bigger hospital.

This model can and does work for the benefit of both the centre and the periphery and is undoubtedly cheaper. Satisfaction is higher for both the staff and the patients, bed occupancy is lower because patients get their procedures and treatment more quickly and it is cheaper.

It is also cheaper because it is not as expensive to run the smaller hospital without the massive costs of the expensive technology.

This is the way forward. We cannot go on building bigger and bigger hospitals and destroying the non-urban infrastructure.

Oxford has long had a reputation for clinical excellence but does it have the courage to innovate and be a leader for this model of rural and urban cooperation?

Name and address


- At the public meeting at St Mary’s on August 25, Professor Stephen Kennedy, on behalf of the Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust (OUHFT), explained at great length how the OUHFT had been unable to employ enough middle grade doctors to keep the consultant-led maternity service open at the Horton General Hospital.

On being challenged regarding several Ugandan doctors who are awaiting interviews, his colleague, Dr Catherine Greenwood insisted that if these doctors were to be appointed they would need to spend an induction period at the John Radcliffe Hospital before being allowed to work at the Horton. There would therefore be no alternative to closing the consultant led unit at the Horton at the end of September.

However, a question that was sidestepped was why not keep the service open by employing locum consultants for the interim period until these doctors are fully operational? It would be expensive, but only for a short period and would alleviate the crisis. After all, Bruno Holtof, the OUHFT chief executive declared: “Money so far has never been the driver.”

If the OUHT fails to implement such a simple but effective solution, it shows that they completely lack the will to provide a humane maternity service for the population of Banbury and gives credence to the theory that this emergency has been engineered in order to close a service without undergoing a consultation.

Jenny Jones