protests at parliament and People's Park

Keep the Horton General

Fighting to protect our General Hospital and keep acute services in Banbury

See below for the latest news, or follow these links to find out what's going on and what you can do to help.

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Let's thank our front-line staff

Thursday 26th March, 8pm

Venue - your home

We're inviting everyone to join us in a nationwide round of applause for our fantastic frontline staff. It will take place this Thursday at 8pm.

Stand at your front door, in your garden or on your balcony and show your appreciation. Why not let you neighbours know (not in person, obviously); maybe film your street clapping in unison and upload to Youtube?

We've never needed our fantastic NHS more than now - let's give a little back.

More info here: www.clapforourcarers.co.uk

Lou Patten applauds the work of Keep the Horton General

12 January 2020

Keep the Horton General (KTHG) invited Lou Patten, outgoing Chief Executive Officer of the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG), to its weekly meeting on Wednesday 8 January.

She spoke honestly about her time in office and what she had achieved to ensure the future, and viability, of the Horton General Hospital (HGH).

Ms Patten was full of praise for the group and said that she, and the Clinical Commissioning Group, had learnt much from our endeavours.

She said that our group had been recognised nationally and that NHS England had taken note of our input in maintaining and expanding services at HGH.

She told the meeting "I have been extremely impressed by the role that Keep the Horton General Campaign Group has within the local Horton Hospital catchment area. The input from members is always articulate, well informed and presents a strong and coordinated patient voice. I have personally learnt a great deal from the Group and I am delighted that they intend to work tirelessly to gain some much needed capital investment to ensure the Horton remains fit for the future".

KTHG chairman, Keith Strangwood, responded "we thank Lou Patten for recognising the input that our group has had in shaping the future of our beloved Horton. We are volunteers who have laboured tirelessly to keep HGH as a fully functioning hospital for Banburyshire residents. To have that recognised formally means a great deal. We will continue unabated. Look out for our rebranded banners" Mr Strangwood added.

Urgent survey - short deadline!

Survey of public opinion/comment on the OUH five year strategy

Deadline Friday 18 October 2019

Due to the eagle eyes of a member of KTHG, this survey was spotted within 24 hours of the original closing date (today, 11 October).

Thanks to Roseanne Edwards of the Banbury Guardian contacting Matt Akid, Director of Communications and Engagement at OUHFT the deadline has been extended to Friday 18 October.

Follow this link to complete the survey: "Help shape our five-year strategy to 2025 for Oxford University Hospitals (OUH)"

Please let the people in Oxford know what you want for YOUR hospital.

Keep the Horton General's reaction to HHOSC meeting

19 September 2019

A large group of KTHG members attended the meeting organised by HHOSC in Banbury Town Hall on Thursday 19 September.

In response to the Clinical Commissioning Group's decision, made public the previous Monday, to permanently remove the Obstetric unit from the Horton, six speakers addressed the committee. These included MP Victoria Prentis, High Steward of Banbury Sir Tony Baldry, three Councillors and KTHG Chairman Keith Strangwood.

There could be no doubting the speeches' level of passion which was wholeheartedly supported by the committee members and Chairman, Arash Fatemian. Speakers described their reaction to the decision variously as "staggered, profoundly disappointed, betrayed, furious" but with an absolute commitment to keep fighting for the people of Banburyshire. Cllr Mallon said he wanted to "thank KTHG for the work they have done over the past 20 years" which was endorsed by Cllr Fatemian.

Of particular note was the praise for the mothers who had addressed the HHOSC meeting in December 2018. The Chairman promised that the committee would "continue to be their voice".

Charlotte Bird, KTHG Deputy Chair said "anyone who attended that meeting will never forget it. The harrowing experiences, told with such eloquence and bravery, will stay with those that heard them forever. It is for those mums, and the mums of the future, that we will never stop campaigning until a full Obstetric service is returned to the Horton".

The committee moved to refer the issue to the Independent Review Panel - via the Secretary of State for Health "on the grounds that it is not in the best interests of local people" - if the recommendation is approved by the OCCG board on 26 September.

Fury as OCCG's and OUHT's self-review concludes obstetrics will not return to the Horton General Hospital "unless circumstances demand it in the future"

16 September 2019

The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) and Oxford University Hospitals Trust (OUH) have reviewed their decision to downgrade maternity services at the Horton General Hospital and concluded that they will not return obstetrics to the Horton General Hospital "unless circumstances demand it in the future."

Keep The Horton General, Banbury MP Victoria Prentis and chairman of the Horton Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HHOSC) Cllr Arash Fatemian reacted with fury to the news, saying the decision must be referred back to the Secretary of State for Health.

KTHG had been assured that we would be part of the investigation into how other small units across the country maintain their obstetric services. However, this promise was not kept.

"Keep the Horton General is utterly dismayed by the announcement by the Oxford Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) to permanently remove Obstetrics from the Horton," said KTHG Deputy Chair Charlotte Bird.

"Committee members have given up numerous hours to attend meetings in public and in private with OCCG and Oxford University Trust (OUT) representatives. We believed that a corner had been turned and that the past history was exactly that. We were told that bridges were being built and that we would be part of the way forward. It seems that this outcome bears no resemblance to that promise.

"The OCCG/OUT told the Horton HOSC members, in a public meeting, that our group would definitely be part of communications with other small Obstetric units up and down the country whether by phone or physical visits. The first we realised that we had been duped was when a senior member of the OUH team told us that they had contacted the hospitals by phone using an internal system and 'hoped we understood'. We didn't then and we certainly don't now".

Meanwhile, the chairman of the committee tasked with reviewing evidence of the closure of the full maternity unit intends to take the matter back to the Secretary of State for Health. Cllr Arash Fatemian has written a scathing report on the behaviour of Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG). He is urging his fellow members of the Horton Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HHOSC) to approve referring the matter back to the Secretary of State when it meets on Thursday. A referral back to the Secretary of State for Health would probably mean the issue would be sent again to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel for a review. It is understood the grounds for referral are 'solid'. The OCCG plan to make the downgrade permanent would again be put on ice.

"The impression given is that the CCG and Trust believe that simply going through a 'tick-box' exercise and presenting the results of their work to HOSC at every stage would be enough to nullify any grounds for referral on process or decision," Cllr Fatemian said in his scathing report.

"The committee has frequently found the responses from both the CCG and the OUH to be evasive, unnecessarily complicated and not in the spirit of cooperation that one would expect."

You can read more of Cllr Fatemian's comments on the Banbury Guardian's website, here or reproduced in the article below.

Banbury MP Victoria Prentis says the recommendation is extremely disappointing. "I believe we can do more to recruit obstetricians and reopen a safe service,"" she commented. "As I have said many times before, the JR is simply too far to travel when in labour or an emergency situation. I will work closely with other MPs, councillors and campaign groups to ensure that we take every step we can."

You can read more of Ms Prentis' comments on the Banbury Guardian's website, here or reproduced in the second article below.

Horton battle for maternity set to be sent back to the Secretary of State

Roseanne Edwards in the Banbury Guardian, 16 September 2019

The chairman of the committee tasked with reviewing evidence of the closure of the full maternity unit intends to take the matter back to the Secretary of State for Health.

Cllr Arash Fatemian has written a scathing report on the behaviour of Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) - which today said it would recommend against restoring an obstetric unit at the Horton - and of Oxford University Hospitals Trust (OUH).

He is urging his fellow members of the Horton Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HHOSC) to approve referring the matter back to the Secretary of State when it meets on Thursday.

"The impression given is that the CCG and Trust believe that simply going through a 'tick-box' exercise and presenting the results of their work to HOSC at every stage would be enough to nullify any grounds for referral on process or decision," he said in his report.

"The committee has frequently found the responses from both the CCG and the OUH to be evasive, unnecessarily complicated and not in the spirit of cooperation that one would expect.

"The unilateral decision to stop Consultant-Led Maternity services at the Horton as an emergency and temporary measure was purported to be on safety grounds. It is incredulous that the Trust has now engaged in a campaign to make any resumption of services appear to be cost-prohibitive.

Referring to a wealth of research, including a dossier of mothers' experiences of giving birth at the JR and a survey of how all small maternity units in England and Wales successfully operate, Mr Fatemian said: "It should not be for the committee and Keep The Horton General (KTHG) to do the work for OCCG and the OUH. If there was genuine interested in exploring all possible options for the successful running of small units, this should have had a far greater significance in the work-streams.

"The committee is particularly concerned that as soon it was announced that we would be conducting our own investigation, the response back was one of hearsay against other NHS trusts from both OCCG and the OUH, who suggested that other trusts might not be complaint and might lie, or stretch the truth in their responses to the committee. This is not the response of an organisation engaging in the public process.

"The committee does not accept that the Trust is doing all it can to recruit the necessary staff numbers. The trust appears not to have sufficiently and aggressively tackled the recruitment and retention of staff, at this world-leading institution."

Mr Fatemian accused the CCG of ignoring the work of the public survey for the Horton catchment area with dismal satisfaction scores for the current service and desire to give birth at the Horton getting sky-high scores.

"The committee heard during its meeting of the December 19, 2018, several cases where women had harrowing experiences because obstetric services were not available at the HGH. At no point has the trust responded effectively to these experiences," he said.

"Let me make it absolutely clear that at no point has the Horton HOSC 'signed off' on the outputs of the workstreams. At no point has the committee indicated it's satisfaction with the execution process the CCG set out in its plan to address the Secretary of State and IRP recommendations."

The Banbury Guardian will publish a special report into the matter on Thursday.

* A referral back to the Secretary of State for Health would probably mean the issue would be sent again to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel for a review. It is understood the grounds for referral are 'solid'. The OCCG plan to make the downgrade permanent would again be put on ice.

Read the original article on the Banbury Guardian's website, here

Banbury loses its battle for Horton maternity

Roseanne Edwards in the Banbury Guardian, 16 September 2019

Oxfordshire health bosses say they will not return obstetrics to the Horton General Hospital unless circumstances demand it in the future.

Furious campaigners who have spent years challenging the downgrade of the hospital's full maternity service say the decision must be referred back to the Secretary of State for Health by the new Horton health overview and scrutiny committee (HHOSC).

And Banbury MP Victoria Prentis says she the recommendation is 'extremely disappointing'.

Keep the Horton General chairman Keith Strangwood said: "This should have gone to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel to decide. The IRP looks at the facts. The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group has just looked at itself. It's ridiculous and the Horton HOSC has got to refer it back to the Secretary of State for Health.

"All of the evidence pointed to the return of obstetrics but they are not interested. They have ignored it all."

The CCG's paper says it recommends its Board next week to confirm the permanent closure of the Horton obstetric unit and to confirm the midwife-led unit at the Horton into the forseeable future.

"If population or other factors change significantly then the need for obstetric services can be reviewed," its recommendations say.

It says it is important for this decision to be made and implemented to remove uncertainty for women, families and staff.

The CCG says it will put in place a dedicated hotline for women in labour and their families to navigate the JR site and use priority parking in an emergency. It will expand services available at the Horton MLU or 'virtually' to enable women to receive most of their maternity care closer to home and increase facilities for birth partners to stay overnight in Oxford.

It will also strengthen links with Warwick Hospital to ensure it is an attractive option.

Mrs Prentis said: "The recommendation is extremely disappointing. I believe we can do more to recruit obstetricians and reopen a safe service.

"As I have said many times before, the JR is simply too far to travel when in labour or an emergency situation. I will work closely with other MPs, councillors and campaign groups to ensure that we take every step we can.

"There are three glimmers of hope. Firstly, it is likely I will be able to chair an annual review, with community involvement, to explore our current health and wellbeing needs to the CCG. As Banbury grows, so too will our maternity needs.

"Secondly, last week I met the CCG to discuss the current situation for new parents in Banbury and surrounding areas. I have asked that the mitigation we were promised four years ago - parking and joined up notes and so on - must be put in place immediately.

"Finally, there is a realisation in the CCG that the Horton General Hospital needs significant investment to be fit for the future. We need to join together locally, working with the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUHFT) and make the case for significant investment with the Department of Health and Social Care.

"I was born at the Horton and I hope future generations of Banbury babies will be too. I will never give up on the fight to bring back a full maternity service to Banbury."

Read the original article on the Banbury Guardian's website, here.

Supporters urged to welcome 400-mile NHS hero walker to Banbury

Saturday 31 August 2019

Horton supporters are urged to join an NHS hero as he stops off in Banbury on a lone 400-mile journey from Glasgow to London, writes Roseanne Edwards in the Banbury Guardian, 27 August 2019.

James Corbett, a native of Chester, has walked from Scotland and aims to reach the Houses of Parliament in time for MPs' return after the summer recess.

His route has taken him through vast areas of the country where NHS and hospital services are being reconfigured and in many cases cutback or centralised.

On Saturday Mr Corbett comes to the Horton General where 45 beds have been closed, intensive care downgraded and obstetrics and special care baby unit moved to Oxford since 2016.

Keep the Horton General deputy chairman Charlotte Bird said: "We are delighted that James is taking time out on his rest day at Milton Keynes to come and highlight the battle we have been having here in Banbury.

"We know that the Horton is invaluable to tens or even hundreds of thousands of people in Banburyshire and we hope our supporters will turn out to welcome James at the Horton front entrance, on the Oxford Road, on Saturday at 12pm.

"We are in full support of his bid to highlight the pressures the NHS is under and his wish to save publicly provided, publicly run hospitals and health facilities for the people who fund this vital public service."

Mr Corbett, an English Teacher from Chester has cast aside his usual summer holiday for the walk which started at Glasgow's Royal Children's Hospital to Westminster as a protest against the creeping privatisation of the NHS.

He is making his way to London via Northampton, Leighton Buzzard and Milton Keynes and local campaigners are keen to support him.

James has been overwhelmed by the support shown and how members of the public have taken time to listen to his message and sign his petition.

He said: "What people don't realise is that the Health and Social Care Act 2012 ended the Government's duty to provide the NHS for all of us.

"Instead they've given the responsibility to the quango NHS England and the commercial market model has left the NHS open to exploitation by companies whose only motive is profit - and the results are already proving to be catastrophic for ordinary people."

Mr Corbett has walked through Cumbria, Lancashire and the North West and he plans to arrive in London in the first week of the new session of Parliament. He hopes MPs will take some time to meet with him.

Steven Carne, Chair of 999 Call for the NHS, said: "James is doing an amazing march and highlighting that the fight for the NHS is both a local and national issue.

"The reason we are losing so many local services and people cannot access care is due to long-term underfunding and orders from NHS England to restructure services along the lines of the USA system. James is right - nobody wants the American system over here. That's why we're supporting him and we hope members of the public will do the same"

More details can be found on James Corbett's Facebook Page and he hopes the public will add their names to his petition at http://bit.ly/400miles2SaveNHSa (sic - apologies this link in the BG article doesn't work)

See also JamesNHSWalk.org

NHS supporter James Corbett, walking from Glasgow to Westminster to raise awareness of NHS privatisation

NHS supporter James Corbett, who is walking from Glasgow to Westminster to raise awareness of NHS privatisation.

Meeting of the OUH Council of Governors in public

Banbury Town Hall

Wednesday 17 July, 5.30pm (informal discussions), 6pm meeting begins

The OUH Council of Governors is meeting in public on Wednesday 17 July at Banbury Town Hall.

The governors will be available for informal discussions with members of the public, from 5.30pm, with the meeting itself starting at 6pm.

Combined documents for the meeting are available in this pdf.

Small maternity unit leaders to be invited to Banbury

9 July 2019

Councillors hearing evidence about the downgrade of the Horton's maternity unit are to invite leaders of other surviving small obstetric units to hear how they manage, writes Roseanne Edwards in the Banbury Guardian, 09 July 2019.

The Horton Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HHOSC), meeting last Thursday, said it wants to know more after Keep the Horton General (KTHG) campaign group produced research to show units with fewer births than the Horton's were still operating well.

The KTHG report, conducted using Freedom of Information law, showed a number of hospital trusts with fewer than 2,200 births had retained consultant-led services. Most were using 'hybrid' rotas - a mix of consultants and trainees with specialists on call - and had a number had training accreditation, enabling the trusts to recruit successfully.

The Horton lost its accreditation in 2012-13 because, it was claimed, its maternity unit was not busy enough to give junior doctors sufficient experience.

HHOSC heard Oxford University Hospitals Trust (OUH) had also looked at smaller units but its research had not been as wide as KTHG's.

Jenny Jones, for KTHG, said: "The data backing up our report clearly shows how hybrid rotas are being made to work."

Mrs Jones noted that Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group lay member Dr Louise Wallace (a former chief executive of the Horton) had suggested in 2017 the closure of the obstetric unit should be postponed pending investigation of using hybrid rotas. The suggestion was voted down.

Jenny Jones, KTHG

Jenny Jones, KTHG

OUH Director of Strategy Kathy Hall stressed the difficulty the trust experienced trying to recruit the necessary staff. Councillors suggested there had not been a problem recruiting before the Horton had lost its training accreditation. Cllr Kieron Mallon said Cherwell District Council had repeatedly offered to discuss availability of housing to key workers.

Mrs Jones highlighted small units with consultant-led units. "In the case of Furness General Hospital and Lancaster Royal Infirmary it has resulted in Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology commendations for professional development in 2017 and standard of training in 2018," she said.

"With the Furness birth rate at approximately 1,100 and Lancaster at 1,900 this refutes the claim that a birth rate of 3,500 is required to obtain training accreditation."

The meeting was given the official results of a survey of mothers in Oxfordshire and Banburyshire who had given birth since the 2016 downgrade.

Cllr Arash Fatemien, chair of the HHOSC said: "Support is there for the Horton. The statistics from the survey show that 75 per cent of Cherwell reidents would have chosen to give birth at the Horton and that number is higher once you strip away areas of Cherwell that are towards Oxford - Kidlington, Water Eaton and so on.

"The figures show 97 per cent of the South Northamptonshire catchment and even 20 per cent of people living in West Oxfordshire who have given birth since 2016 would have chosen to have given birth at the Horton.

"To have an independent provider present that as verified truth lends scientific weight to the argument for the Horton.

"The KTHG research will be very useful. I will pay tribute to all the work KTHG have done but until we hear from those units I can't prejudge how much weight will be given to it.

"I've got a bit more hope than I had previously."

Cllr Arash Fatamien, chair of HHOSC

Cllr, Arash Fatamian, chair of HHOSC

Read the original article on the Banbury Guardian website.

OUH to explain their vision for the Horton and the future development of the Horton site

Public Meeting: Banbury Town Hall, Tuesday 23 July 2019, 5.30pm - 7.30pm

NB - booking is essential for the public meeting

The Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust is organising two events in Banbury, both on Tuesday 23 July.

Most important appears to be the Public Meeting at 5.30pm, at which the trust will explain how they intend to implement their vision and the future development of the Horton site. It will also include talks on the Emergency Department, the Brodey Centre and the Horton Trauma Service.

Booking is essential for the public meeting. Please contact caroline.rouse@ouh.nhs.uk or call 01865 231472.

They are also organising a Health Fair to showcase the services at the Horton General Hospital, advice on healthy living and information about working at the Horton. The Fair begins at 1pm.

Both events will take place in the Main Hall in the Town Hall, Bridge Street, Banbury.

OUH poster for horton health fair 23 july 2019
OUH poster for horton public meeting 23 july 2019

Oxford University Hospitals Annual Public Meeting

Tuesday 16 July, 5.30pm for 6pm start

The date has been announced for the Annual Public Meeting of Oxford University Hospitals. It will take place on Tuesday 16 July in Tingewick Hall in the John Radcliffe Hospital's Academic Centre; arrival is at 5.30pm for refreshments, and the meeting starts at 6pm.

After a welcome from OUH Chair Prof Sir Jonathan Montgomery, there will be a review of the last year and the OUH's future plans with Chief Executive Dr Bruno Holthof, and a report from the Council of Governors' Lead Governor Cecilia Gould. Guests will also be able to hear a talk on Dementia and Delirium by Prof Sarah Pendlebury, Associate Professor in Medicine and Old Age Neuroscience and OUH Clinical Lead for Dementia.

At the end of the meeting guests will have the opportunity to ask questions.

If you wish to attend, you need to email caroline.rouse@ouh.nhs.uk

Benchmarking Small Obstetric Units

KTHG offers research to other campaign groups

10 June 2019

Keep the Horton General has been carrying out national benchmarking research since March 2019 into how small obstetric units staff and sustain services.

We have examined the various challenges which affect the sustainability of obstetric services, such as staffing issues and recruitment programmes at a local and national level, together with issues such as how training accreditation is awarded, and where and how Hybrid rotas (where resident consultants fill gaps on middle-grade staffing rotas) are being utilised.

All of this research has informed the attached short paper, which we have shared with the Horton Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee councillors, the OCCG, the OUHFT and other interested parties, and has implications for the assessment of options currently underway for the future of maternity services in North Oxfordshire.

We hope that it will also be of use to other campaign groups by demonstrating the viability of smaller consultant-led units in the fight for retention of obstetric services elsewhere.

Please click on the image below to access the report.

KTHG report to HHOSC - benchmarking small obstetric units:

KTHG report - benchmarking small obstetric units 2019

Shocking news from elsewhere in the UK

Warrington and Halton Hospitals introduce a price list for "procedures of low clinical priority"

18 June 2019

We have received the following communication from national campaign group, Defend our NHS.

"Dear friends of the NHS

You may have read occasional health horror stories from the USA. They include huge credit card bills for procedures which we rightly accept as a normal part of our exemplary national health service. The costs of health treatment and of private health insurance in the USA cause misery beyond belief in a 'developed' country. They account for the huge majority of personal bankruptcies.

Campaigners have warned for years that the NHS is being driven in the same direction and that we need to fight back. In fact American corporations have been active in the health service here for years. And you should have learned by now that a leading figure in one of these predators (United Health of Minneapolis) is the boss of NHS England.

But people say, of course, privatisation and suchlike will never happen here.

Not people who live in Warrington.

Believe it or not Warrington and Halton Hospitals have introduced a price list so that people who can afford it can PAY for what they have the nerve to call 'procedures of low clinical priority'.

A price list!

A massive protest has already begun to take shape. At the time of writing there is a demonstration outside the town hall in Runcorn. And campaigners are meeting in Liverpool this Thursday (20 June).

Remember our long-running campaign against the Cheshire & Merseyside STP ('slash, trash and privatise')? This new scandal is an example of how it's being put into practice. The name of the STP boss? Mel Pickup. And the chief executive of Warrington and Halton Hospitals? Why, what a surprise, it's Mel Pickup.

If you want to learn more and support the Warrington protests see this Facebook page.

If you want to know more about campaigns in the region see our Facebook page.

And if you want to know how this all fits into the national picture take a look at the newspaper of Health Campaigns Together.

Of course the horrors are happening in Wirral. Remember to join us outside Birkenhead Town Hall on 9 July from 1:00pm. A decision on the future of Wirral walk- in centres will be made at the Joint Commissioning Board meeting at that time. DONHS is organising a lobby of the meeting which is open to the public.

Best wishes on behalf of Defend Our NHS"

We wish our fellow campaigners good luck in their battle against the creeping privatisation of our national health service.

Banbury Utd lottery will help community

Supporter-owned football club launches major fundraiser

10 May 2019

The Puritans have launched a fundraising lottery to support Banbury Utd Football Club and its work in the community, writes Roseanne Edwards in the Banbury Guardian, 10 May 2019

The £1-a-ticket lottery will give supporters of United - the sporting heart of Banbury - the chance to win cash prizes every week while helping the club's development, especially its youth and community work.

And as well as raising funds for the club's initiatives, a percentage of each week's profits will be donated to the Keep the Horton General (KTHG) campaign group which works to protect and enhance services at the town's hospital.

Lottery Promotor Mark Allitt said: "This is the type of fundraiser that supporter-owned clubs have made very popular because everyone has a good chance of winning and they're supporting their club. "Our inspiration has been the achievements of our friends at Merythr Town who run a very successful lottery. We're really excited by it and hope we can be as successful as other clubs have been.

"We have several projects we want to pursue including working with local schools and our new partnership with Banbury and Bicester College. The proceeds of the lottery will help us achieve those aims."

United chairman Phil Lines added "We were extremely keen to link our lottery with a local good cause which means something to everyone in Banbury and we feel KTHG is the one.

"We're ready to support the long-standing efforts that have been made to protect the hospital, since it's the town's most vital public service that's really important to all and especially to those of us involved in local sport."

Tickets will cost £1 and will be on sale at various outlets in the town, which will include various club sponsors. People can also play via the club's website on a standing order basis. The first draw will be on Friday, June 7.

Players choose three winning numbers from a choice of 20 to win 50 per cent of the weekly prize fund. The numbers will be drawn every Friday afternoon. Ten per cent of all sales will be donated to KTHG.

Sponsored by John Nicholls building and plumbing merchants, the 'small society' lottery will be administered by a group of trustees called the Friends of Banbury United Community FC. They include Banbury Utd Ambassador Ronnie Johnson, Martin Humphris of Humphris Funerals and David Banks of Banbury Print and Design.

The lottery promoter is Mr Allitt, the club's Commercial Director and Promotions Manager. The trustees will oversee and provide governance to the scheme which has been registered with Cherwell District Council.

"We're really delighted and very grateful that Banbury United has put the Horton at the top of the town's priorities and is donating a proportion of this new lottery's profits to the campaign group," said chairman Keith Strangwood.

"Keep the Horton General is a small organisation that is dedicated to protecting services that are essential for the wellbeing of our growing town.

"We are currently working hard behind the scenes to research and present information from around the country to assist the Horton Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee which is re-examining removal of consultant-led maternity."

Mr Strangwood said he wished the Banbury United Community Club Lottery huge success and congratulated Mr Allitt and his colleagues on their hard work over many months to bring the project to its launch.

The lottery was launched at Spencer Stadium clubhouse yesterday (Thursday). Tickets will be available at a growing list of locations available on the Banbury Utd website.

For more details:

Other supporter-owned clubs such as Rushden and Diamonds, Newport County, Merthyr Town and Wycombe Wanderers run their own lotteries very successfully.

Read the original article on the Banbury Guardian's website, here.

Keep the Horton General to benefit from Banbury United Lottery Fund

10 May 2019

Representatives of Keep the Horton General (KTHG) attended the launch of Banbury United's Lottery on Thursday 9 May.

The club's Commercial Director, Mark Allitt, gave an extensive presentation to a large crowd of supporters in the clubhouse. He explained how the Lottery will be run and how the profits will be shared. KTHG has been selected to receive 10% because of the important work it does on behalf of the local population.

One of Banbury's most prominent businesses, John Nicholls (Trading) Limited, is sponsoring the Lottery. They were represented at the launch by Director, Adam England. Martin Humphris of Humphris Funeral Directors is a Trustee. Both company representatives reinforced their commitment to the new fundraising scheme.

KTHG Chairman, Keith Strangwood, gave a stirring speech explaining how KTHG relies on donations from local companies and the public. The two year battle through the courts regarding the legality of the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group's changes to the health provision in the north of the county has resulted in significant financial cost. "The monthly donations from the Banbury United Lottery is a fantastic example of the community pulling together" he said.

Lottery tickets will be available via numerous retails outlets in the town as well as at the football club and via the the methods below.

Lottery promoter Mark Allitt, Ken Hopkins (KTHG), Roseanne Edwards, Keith Strangwood, chairman of KTHG, Adam England (John Nicholls - sponsors), Charlotte Bird (KTHG) and trustee Martin Humphris.

Left to right: lottery promoter Mark Allitt, Ken Hopkins (KTHG), Roseanne Edwards, Keith Strangwood, chairman of KTHG, Adam England (John Nicholls - sponsors), Charlotte Bird (KTHG) and trustee Martin Humphris.

Disappointing news as the Court of Appeal dismisses our appeal

11 April 2019

We heard on Thursday 11 April that the Court of Appeal dismissed our appeal against the original decision by Lord Justice Mostyn in December 2017. Mostyn had found against the local councils and KTHG who had brought the case, despite criticising Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) for the way they had conducted the consultation.

However the OCCG has readily admitted their shortcomings. Lou Patten Chief Executive of OCCG told the Oxford Mail "(we) recognise the importance of working together to understand local people's health need and then to plan together the services that are required to meet those needs".

In the meantime KTHG is continuing the fight by providing evidence to the Horton Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee and by gathering information on other small units in England and Wales to see how consultant-led units are run successfully elsewhere.

KTHG would like to thank all of its supporters for their unwavering support and superb fundraising efforts, which helped us get such a long way in our attempt to secure safe and equitable health services for the people of Banburyshire. The end result is that we have raised the profile of our beloved Horton far more than we could have anticipated at the outset.

Please see below for reports from the Banbury Guardian and KTHG's press release on the result of the appeal.

Campaign group loses Horton appeal after David and Goliath battle

Banbury Guardian, 11 April 2019

Keep the Horton General (KTHG) heard today (Thursday) that the Court of Appeal had dismissed its case, reports Roseanne Edwards in the Banbury Guardian, 11 April 2019.

The claim was originally brought by Cherwell, South Northants, Stratford on Avon and Banbury Town councils and KTHG in 2017.

The coalition claimed Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) failed to consult the public properly on plans for permanent loss of consultant-led maternity, special care baby unit, emergency gynaecology, 45 medical beds and the downgrading of intensive care.

High Court judge Mr Justice Mostyn criticised OCCG's consultation but ruled its deficiencies did not amount to unlawfulness.

"We're really disappointed the Court of Appeal has not found in our favour,"" said KTHG chairman Keith Strangwood."After the councils dropped out, we felt we should go ahead. Our lawyers said we had a 50-50 chance and we felt while there was a chance, we should continue the fight for the Horton catchment.

"This was always going to be a David and Goliath battle. We are a small campaign group - though we have had huge support locally and throughout the country.

"The NHS machine is the giant. It is determined to do away with district general hospitals and the CCGs are the authorities expected to do it.

"Our job was to try to ensure that the taxpayers and NHS users were given their legal right - to be in on the planning of changes, not just asked for their opinion on a done deal.

"The done deal here meant taking the heart out of the Horton."

KTHG members say their investment in the appeal was justified, as the case was heard by the Master of the Rolls, Sir Terence Etherton (the second most senior judge in the country) and two other Law Lords, on a day when the Heathrow expansion appeal was heard under less senior judges in an adjoining court.

The case:

The 2017 consultation was an obligation of Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) before it could finalise its downgrade plans for the Horton.

KTHG argued in court that there had been insufficient detail on proposals in a second phase of the Oxfordshire Transformation Plan (which was to have included alternatives to the 45 closed Horton beds) to allow people to make informed responses to the first part. In the Court of Appeal last month, KTHG's lawyer, Samantha Broadfoot QC, described this as 'putting the cart before the horse'.

Miss Broadfoot argued that OCCG had not given legally required information on the disadvantages of downgrading and had not met NHS 'bed tests' introduced that spring.

The test said alternative provision must be in place before beds are closed.

The second phase of the transformation plan was in fact cancelled in March 2018, a few months after the High Court judgement so consultation never happened.

The OCCG said the bed test was not a legal obligation as the guidance had been issued after the consultation had begun but it had satisfied the test's demands with plans for alternative provision in the form of hubs, ambulatory systems and 'acute hospital at home'.

OCCG said it had given information about the negative consequences of the hospital downgrading as well and more information had been available on its website.

Mr Strangwood said: "KTHG has been up against a huge opponent, they have limitless funds available to them from us the tax payers to fight any opposition to their plans. They have politicians to advise them. At the same time they are being directed by them and will continue to do so.

"We hope OCCG and NHS England understand KTHG is willing to go as far as it takes to ensure Banburyshire Horton Hospital users are taken seriously. This legal fight will leave them in no doubt of that.

"In the past six years they have centralised almost all the Horton's core services to the JR in Oxford. Our purpose is to continue to fight for reinstatement of these in Banbury and urgently, our obstetric unit.

"KTHG has been helping the downgrade review by Horton Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HHOSC) with our dossiers of women's birth experiences and most recently gathering information on other small units in England and Wales to see how consultant-led wards are provided elsewhere.

"KTHGs amazing group of volunteers will continue to do what is required for us to Keep The Horton General."

Read the original article on the Banbury Guardian's website, here.

KTHG's legal team at the Royal Courts of Justice - left to right, Peter McLoughlin, Dr Peter Fisher, Keith Strangwood and Charlotte Bird

KTHG's legal team at the Royal Courts of Justice - left to right, Peter McLoughlin, Dr Peter Fisher, Keith Strangwood and Charlotte Bird.

Court of Appeal hearing - the result

KTHG press release

11 April 2019

Representatives of Keep the Horton General (KTHG) were in Court 71 - in front of the Master of the Rolls, Sir Terence Etherton - on Thursday 14 March 2019 for their Appeal hearing into the unlawfulness of the Oxford Clinical Commissioning Group's (CCG's) first phase consultation. Joining Sir Terence were Lord Justice McCombe and Lord Justice Lindblom.

The three Judges have held that the CCG's consultation was lawful. Unfortunately, the Court of Appeal found that any flaws in the consultation were not so unfair to make the process unlawful.

KTHG is disappointed that one of the highest advocates of law in the land has found against the campaign group.

Nonetheless, Lord Justice Etherton did criticise the manner in which the CCG produced late evidence on the final day of the High Court hearing, which turned out to be materially relied on by the Court, as being "clearly highly unsatisfactory" and remarked that the CCG repeated the same mistake just before the Court of Appeal hearing.

Keith Strangwood, Chairman of KTHG said, "In 2008 when the Independent Reconfiguration Panel found in favour of our campaign to retain full services at the Horton General Hospital, we thought our services were safe. Eleven years later and it is all change. We have fought tooth and nail for the people of Banburyshire.

"We won't give up our fight because we truly believe in the ideal that the majority of best outcomes for patients are delivered close to home. The local population was never given the chance to engage in a meaningful consultation with OCCG. They were robbed of the opportunity to engage with the rule makers.

"This campaign has only been possible because of the marvellous efforts of our fundraising team and local businesses who ensured that we had the funds to see the fight through to the end. The knowledge, for our campaign group, that our case was heard by the Master of the Rolls says a great deal" he concluded.

Rowan Smith, lawyer at Leigh Day who has represented KTHG throughout the legal action, said:

"Whilst our clients do not agree with the result, the Court of Appeal did at least praise KTHG's "high quality submissions", which is a huge credit to KTHG for taking the appeal this far. Importantly, the Court recognised and agreed with the group's arguments that "there was an important interdependency between the proposed bed closures and the provision of community facilities."

On their behalf, the legal team had argued that, given the nature of this interdependency, the CCG should not have waited to consult on community facilities in phase two, when it had planned to made a final decision on bed closures after phase one and before phase two.

"Although KTHG was not able to achieve its ultimate aim of forcing a fresh consultation, we hope that this legal challenge has made the CCG sit up and take notice of the strength of feeling in the community and we trust that it will listen to their views more readily in the future."

Churchill scanners decision is referred to the Secretary of State for Health

4 April 2019

NHS England's controversial decision to award the Churchill's contract for cancer screening services to a private company was dealt a blow this week when the Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) voted to refer the controversial decision to the Secretary of State for Health (Thursday 4th April 2019).

The (national) Guardian reported "The proposal to let the company InHealth take charge of the Thames Valley regional PET-CT scanning service, which is run by Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, has been set aside until the Department of Health completes a review of the procurement process.

Last month, doctors warned that the move would damage patients' health and, this week, an extraordinary row erupted when it emerged that NHS England, which handled the procurement process, had threatened to sue the trust for libel if it publicly voiced similar concerns.

The outcry over the privatisation plan led to a partial climbdown from NHS England, which agreed that the two scanners should stay in Churchill hospital and be operated by NHS staff, though InHealth was still to be given the contract to provide the service.

OUH asked the chairman of the Oxfordshire joint health overview and scrutiny committee (HOSC) to review the matter in a public meeting, which was attended by doctors, patients and others. Afterwards, it said HOSC had decided to refer the matter to the health secretary, Matt Hancock."

The Banbury Guardian reported "Oxfordshire County Council's joint health overview and scrutiny committee agreed the controversial decision should be investigated as it was not consulted before the preferred bidder was chosen.

Committee members grilled representatives from NHSE, InHealth - the firm which won the initial bid for the PET-CT scanning service - and Oxford University Hospitals NHS trust on the proposal, which has caused widespread outrage.

Numerous speakers gave passionate speeches about why the Churchill Hospital's 'world renowned' service should not be given to InHealth and the concerns for a 'two-tier system'.

Committee chairman Cllr Arash Fatemian said not referring the plan would set a dangerous precedent for commissioners not consulting the HOSC before making significant changes to the county's health care."

KTHG vice chair Charlotte Bird commented, "We are delighted that HOSC has referred NHSE's controversial decision to the Secretary of State for Health. As recently as February this year NHSE themselves urged ministers to scrap key parts of the Health And Social Care Act 2012 legislation which has led to the widespread privatisation of healthcare. We can only hope that common sense prevails and the service is allowed to remain fully in the hands of NHS and the NHS experts who currently operate the service to great effect."

Read the full articles here:

Matt Hancock called in to settle Oxford hospital scanners row - the Guardian, 4 April 2019

Plan to privatise Thames Valley cancer screening service referred to Health Secretary - Banbury Guardian, 4 April 2019

Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group launches maternity services survey

Deadline: 9am on Monday 15th April.

Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) is asking women who have given birth in one of the maternity units in Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Reading and Swindon over the last two years to take part in a survey of maternity services.

"Thousands of women and their partners are being invited to share their experience of using maternity services." writes the OCCG, launching the survey on its website, 11 March 2019. "Their feedback will help us understand what they think is important, what worked for them and what could be better, as well as how changes made at the Horton Hospital in Banbury have affected them."

All Oxfordshire, South Northamptonshire and South Warwickshire women who have given birth during the two-year period will be asked to complete the survey. The OCCG says details of the survey will be sent directly to women who have used these services inviting them to take part.

You can read more about the survey on the OCCG's website.

To complete the survey online, please follow this link to the OCCG maternity survey. The deadline for responses is 9am on Monday 15th April.

Keep the Horton General is not responsible for this survey.

Keep the Horton General at the Court of Appeal

KTHG press release

16 March 2019

Representatives of Keep the Horton General (KTHG) were in Court 71 - the Master of the Rolls' court - on Thursday 14 March for their Appeal hearing. In front of Sir Terence Etherton (Master of the Rolls), Lord Justice McCombe and Lord Justice Lindblom KTHG's QC, Samantha Broadfoot spoke for the entire morning session.

In December 2017 Lord Justice Mostyn had found against the local councils and KTHG who had brought the case, despite criticising Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) for the way they had conducted the consultation.

The Appeal's focus was the dismissal of the unlawfulness claim by KTHG and local councils over the consultation on downgrading services at the Horton General Hospital. KTHG believe the 2017 consultation, conducted by OCCG (before it could finalise its plans to end the Horton's full maternity service and special care baby unit, close 45 beds and downgrade intensive care) was flawed.

KTHG said OCCG had not given the local people information regarding the disadvantages of the downgrading - which they were obliged to do. Nor had they met NHS 'bed tests' introduced that Spring.

Lord Justice Etherton described the advocates' deliveries as exceptional and said the case is very important to a great many local people.

KTHG's Legal Lead, Peter McLoughlin said "This shows the importance with which it is being treated. The Master of the Rolls is the second most senior Judge in the land. We have always maintained that the people of Banburyshire should have had a bigger say in health provision planning as is required under existing law."

Appeal court hears Banbury campaigners' case on Horton

Report from the Banbury Guardian

14 March 2019

Campaign group Keep the Horton General (KTHG) took its case against Oxfordshire health bosses in front of three of the country's most powerful judges yesterday, writes Roseanne Edwards in the Banbury Guardian, 15 March 2019. The Banbury campaigners went to the Court of Appeal to contest the dismissal of an unlawfulness claim by them and local councils over a consultation on Horton downgrading.

"It's satisfying to have taken this case to the very limits of our abilities and to have appeared in front of the second most important judge in the land," said Peter McLoughlin, legal lead for KTHG. "This shows the importance with which it is being treated especially as on the same day the Heathrow expansion appeal appeared under less senior judges.

"We have always maintained that the people of Banburyshire should have had a bigger say in health provision planning as is required under existing law."

The 2017 consultation was a duty by Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) before it could finalise its plans to end the Horton's full maternity service and special care baby unit, close 45 beds and downgrade intensive care.

KTHG argued that the public had not been given enough information on a planned second phase (which included primary care) of the Oxfordshire Transformation Plan to allow them to make informed responses to the first part - in particular closing 45 of the Horton's acute medical beds. KTHG's lawyer, Samantha Broadfoot QC, described this as 'putting the cart before the horse'. The campaign group said Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) had not given information about downgrading's disadvantages - which they were obliged to do - and had not met NHS 'bed tests' introduced that spring.

The test said alternative provision for patients must be in place before beds are closed. Miss Broadfoot argued that the High Court had failed to address one of their key arguments which was that it was unfair to consult on the bed closures without also giving people the relevant information about community provision when the two were very interrelated. KTHG had accepted that there were good arguments for more and better care out of hospital but said people were unable to make meaningful representations in their responses when the issue of community provision had not been fully developed and was going to be consulted on in Phase 2. Phase 2 was in fact cancelled in March 2018, a few months after the High Court judgment so consultation never actually happened.

Fenella Morris QC, for OCCG, responded that the bed test was not a legal obligation for the group as the guidance had been released after the start of their consultation.

However she said the CCG's consultation had in any case satisfied the test's demands and that alternative provision existed in the form of hubs, ambulatory systems and 'acute hospital at home'. She maintained the document - The Big Consultation - had given information about the negative consequences of the hospital downgrading as well as the positives and that there was much information available on the CCG's updated website for anyone wanting to find out more. There was a further point in dispute - that the High Court judge who dismissed the claim had admitted a witness statement from OCCG in the last hour of the two-day hearing, giving KTHG and the councils insufficient time to consider and respond. Miss Morris said that statement had not included information relating to bed closures and therefore did not apply.

OCCG supplied a last minute witness statement in this case too, before KTHG could respond, but the judges said they would not consider it unless, for some reason, it became necessary. The case was heard by Master of the Rolls, Sir Terence Etherton - the country's second most senior judge in England and Wales after the Lord Chief Justice - along with Lord Justice McCombe and Lord Justice Lindblom. Lord Justice Etherton described the advocates' deliveries as exceptional and said the case is very important to a great many local people. A decision on the Court of Appeal judges' is expected in about three weeks. The Court of Appeal is the highest court within the Senior Courts of England and Wales and second in the legal system of England and Wales only to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.

Read the original article on the Banbury Guardian's website, here.

Roseanne Edwards, Leon Glenister, Samantha Broadfoot QC, Rowan Smith and Peter McLoughlin outside the High Court

Roseanne Edwards, Leon Glenister, Samantha Broadfoot QC, Rowan Smith and Peter McLoughlin outside the High Court, 14 March 2019.

Horton General Hospital staff treat boxing legend Frank Bruno for pneumonia

4 March 2019

Boxing legend Frank Bruno has been treated in hospital after contracting pneumonia, reports the Mirror, 4 March 2019.

His agent Dave Davies confirmed the shocking news with a tweet from Bruno's account, the Mirror continues.

It is understood Bruno was taken ill over the weekend after an event hosted by comedian Jed Stone in Harrogate on Saturday night. The 57-year-old has been treated at The Horton General Hospital in Banbury and now faces a "few weeks" of rest in order to make a full recovery.

A tweet from his account said: "Hello its Dave Davies, Franks agent, here just to advise as we are getting calls. Frank has contracted Pneumonia. We must say a big thank you to the staff of The Horton General hospital, in Banbury who have treated him. He now needs a few weeks rest."

We understand Mr Bruno has now been released from hospital.

Scrap laws driving privatisation of health service, say NHS bosses

NHS England calls for end to rules under which firms have won £10.5bn of contracts

28 February 2019

NHS bosses have urged ministers to scrap controversial legislation that has led to the widespread privatisation of healthcare as part of a major revamp of the health service, writes Denis Campbell, Health Policy Editor, in the Guardian, 28 Feb 2019.

NHS England outlined detailed plans that would repeal key parts of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 to squeeze out private providers such as Virgin Care and let the NHS deliver more of its own care again.

The proposals include axing regulations that have allowed profit-driven health firms to win NHS contracts in England worth about £10.5bn in the five years after the act came into force in April 2013.

At its monthly board meeting on Thursday, NHS England published plans that, if adopted by ministers, would dismantle large parts of the shake-up instigated by Andrew Lansley, who was health secretary in the coalition government from 2010 to 2012.

Theresa May has acknowledged that the 2012 act, which is widely considered to be the most damaging ever to afflict the NHS, is hindering a drive by the health service in England to provide better care by integrating key services.

Section 75 of the act and the public contracts regulations 2015 together force clinical commissioning groups in England - which hold the NHS budget locally - to put any contract for care worth more than £615,278 over its lifetime out to tender. That led to a significant expansion in the amount of care provided by firms such as Virgin Care and Care UK.

Virgin Care, which is owned by Richard Branson, holds more than 400 contracts.

In a document outlining its ideas, NHS England said: "We propose that the regulations made under section 75 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 should be revoked." It instead called for a "best value" test.

It said the increased competition arising from the regulations has wasted NHS time and resources. "Current procurement legislation can lead to protracted procurement processes and wasteful legal and administration costs in cases where there is a strong rationale for services to be provided by NHS organisations, for instance to secure integration with existing NHS services."

NHS England has launched a two-month public engagement process on its proposals. The Commons health and social care select committee will also hold an inquiry and carry out pre-legislative scrutiny of whatever proposals for reform ministers put forward.

Simon Stevens, NHS England's chief executive, said it wanted to see "if some targeted changes could be made to the law".

Paul Evans, who runs the NHS Support Federation, which tracks privatisation in the health service, welcomed the move. "The Lansley reforms have been a damaging and wasteful experiment in forcing competition on the NHS and inviting in the private sector.

"The market-based experiment has led to the collapse of multiple contracts, to patients getting substandard care or the denial of it altogether, and to the huge waste of public resources."

NHS England made clear that the ambitions outlined in its long-term plan, the blueprint it unveiled last month, could be implemented under existing legislation, "but legislative change could make implementation easier and faster".

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said: "We want to help foster an even more ambitious, innovative culture in the NHS and ensure it's never victim to unnecessary bureaucracy. We are prepared to consider what changes may be necessary to make those ambitions a reality more quickly, including potentially changing the law."

Niall Dickson, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents most health service trusts, backed the plan. "Many aspects of the 2012 NHS reforms are no longer fit for purpose. These proposals should remove some of the barriers to effective collaboration (and) reduce the burden of the current procurement regime."

Under the proposals, the Competition and Markets Authority's power to block mergers between hospital trusts would transfer to the regulator NHS Improvement. This is likely to lead to a series of mergers, some of which the CMA has rejected.

Read the article on the Guardian's website, here.

KTHG will watch these developments with interest.

Changes in scanning services for Oxfordshire patients?

23 February 2019

Keep the Horton General (KTHG) is aware that considerable changes may be planned for the treatment of cancer patients who have formerly attended scanning appointments at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford.

A private (for profit) organisation 'In-Health' was awarded the contract to provide radiology services by NHSE/I - the amalgamation of NHS England and NHS Improvement.

This is the body responsible for overseeing foundation trusts and NHS trusts, as well as independent providers, that provide NHS-funded care. The current provider of the contract, Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust (OUHFT) was undercut in the tendering process. The tender, prepared by the in-house Head of the Nuclear Medicine Department, was not considered financially acceptable.

This is despite the fact that the 'In-Health' staff does not possess the professional qualifications required for the leadership of this category of nuclear diagnosis and treatment. In layman's terms the lead clinicians do not hold the ARSAC (Administration of Radioactive Substance Advisory Committee) licence.

Currently located at the Churchill Hospital, in specially designed accommodation, the scanners would be moved to another location. Suggested sites are inappropriately converted buildings near Oxford's ring road or in the Manor private hospital.

MP for Oxford East, Anneliese Dodds, expressed her concern about the potential outsourcing of the PET-SCAN provision away from OUHFT in the House of Commons this week. She continued, "we urgently need a debate around the privatisation of the NHS".

KTHG Chairman, Keith Strangwood, suggested that the awarding of the contract - which equates to a major change in service provision - should have gone out for public consultation prior to the decision. "We will be communicating with our lawyers as to the legality of this decision" he said.

Public meeting - how did the Horton downgrade affect your maternity experience?

Date - Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Time - drop in to listen between 10am and 6pm, or book your slot to speak

Where - Banbury Town Hall

Action - email your story to KTHG or email julie.dean@oxfordshire.gov.uk to book your slot to speak

Keep the Horton General is liaising with the Horton Health Overview and Scrutiny committee over a public meeting at Banbury Town Hall on Wednesday, December 19.

The chairman of the HHOSC, Cllr Arash Fatemian, is extremely keen for his committee to hear from as many mothers, families and other Horton supporters about how the downgrade of our consultant-led maternity unit has affected them, from birth experiences to the after-effects, the difficulties families have experienced because of the loss of local birth care and any other issue that is relevant.

Cllr Fatemian realises that this is the week before Christmas and that some children will already be off school but he hopes everyone who wants to contribute will feel they can.

HHOSC can't change the date but it will be an all-day meeting sitting until 6pm, meaning that those wishing to speak can express a preference for an approximate time slot.

Cllr Fatemian says: "I am hoping that we should be able to juggle the order to accommodate everyone. It is not case of everyone having to be there at 10am, but mothers could come for a short period, say what they want to say and then leave again if needs be. I am also willing to explore the option of allowing others to speak on their behalf and also possibly allow the playing of recorded views."

Contributors may attend, or write a submission, or send in a recorded piece.

To book a slot to speak, please email Julie Dean (committee clerk) at julie.dean@oxfordshire.gov.uk

If you have any questions, please either email us at keepthehortongeneral@hotmail.co.uk , PM us through our facebook page or call the chairman Keith Strangwood on 07740 599736.

This article was edited on 9 December to reflect the changed time of the meeting, and to provide an email address to allow people to book a slot to speak at the meeting.

Wherein lies the truth?

30 November 2018

Members of Keep the Horton General (KTHG) were left bemused following the meeting of the Horton Health and Overview Scrutiny Committee (HHOSC) on Monday 26 November in Banbury Town Hall.

Prior to the meeting, the group had distributed a dossier of 20 birth stories to members of the committee. In fine detail were the difficult, sometimes traumatic, circumstances which labouring mums had experienced at the John Radcliffe Hospital.

A recurring theme was mums being left alone whilst the overstretched midwives cared for other women in labour. Some commented that they had felt abandoned with no support post delivery and had received no guidance re breast feeding.

However, a senior member of the Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust (OUHFT) informed the meeting that all labouring women received 1:1 from their midwives and that breast feeding advice was very good.

Retired Horton consultant, Peter Fisher, commented 'There is obviously a considerable difference between what the OUHFT hierarchy thinks is happening in the delivery suites and the actuality'.

KTHG welcome the announcement made by Chairman, Cllr Arash Fatemian, that the HHOSC meeting on 19 December will be open to the public and anyone who wishes to address the meeting about their birth experience is actively encouraged to do so.

Information about attending, or speaking at, the meeting can be found in the article above this one.

KTHG survey - preferred birthplace of local women if Obstetrics was returned to the Horton General Hospital

22 November 2018

Keep the Horton General is keen to find out how many women of childbearing age living within the Horton General Hospital's catchment area would prefer to use the Horton's maternity unit as a birthplace if a full Obstetric service was returned to it.

Obstetrics means having doctors and anaesthetists present who can:

  • deal with complications
  • perform surgery, e.g. Caesareans
  • give a wider spectrum of pain relief such as epidurals
  • it also includes a Special Care Baby Unit for premature or sick babies, meaning all services can be provided in-house

The unit at the Horton is currently midwife-led, meaning only women whose pregnancies are considered 'low-risk' can give birth there, and the above services cannot be provided there. If women experience complications during labour, require surgery, or if their baby needs special care, they have to travel to an obstetric unit, usually the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

Where would you prefer to give birth, if a full obstetric service was returned to the Horton General Hospital?

Click here to complete the survey: KTHG preferred birthplace survey

Please note - the survey asks for your name. You do not have to give your name, but if you do it may be used in connection with the survey, e.g. to help us demonstrate to the Clinical Commissioning Group that the responses are representative, honest and from real people. We will not use your name for any other purpose.

KTHG wins right to appeal!

2 November 2018

Keep the Horton General has learnt this week that it has won its right to appeal the decision made by Mr Justice Mostyn in December 2017 into the legality of the split consultation process by the Oxford Clinical Commissioning Group regarding the downgrade of the Horton General Hospital.

On the advice of its legal team, Leigh Day, that there was a strong case for appeal papers were lodged with the Royal Courts of Justice in January this year.

"We have faced considerable criticism for the past ten months for 'holding up' any progress being made at the Horton" said KTHG Chairman, Keith Strangwood. "We have steadfastly believed in our cause and that is that we had to fight on for the sake of the many people who have suffered terribly due to the removal of beds and services that were previously available at the Horton General Hospital. This decision vindicates us. A Judge in one of the highest courts in the land agrees with us.

"Our campaign group receives, on a continual basis, messages from members of the public who have endured considerable hardship, inconvenience and suffering. We cannot stand idly by and observe this suffering from the sidelines. We will be with them until, and after, this situation is resolved.

"Our fundraising team continue to do brilliant work which adds much needed cash to our fighting fund every month. This news will give them a huge boost. Well done team KTHG, I am proud of you all!" concluded Mr Strangwood.

Roseanne Edwards (Banbury Guardian), Rowan Smith of Leigh Day, Samantha Broadfoot QC of Landmark Chambers, and KTHG vice chair Charlotte Bird pictured outside the Royal Courts 
			of Justice, December 2017.

Left to right: Roseanne Edwards (Banbury Guardian), Rowan Smith of Leigh Day, Samantha Broadfoot QC of Landmark Chambers, and KTHG vice chair Charlotte Bird pictured outside the Royal Courts of Justice, December 2017.

.... remind me what this is all about?

Early in December 2017, a judicial review challenge to Oxfordshire CCG's decision to reconfigure services at the Horton General Hospital was heard by Mr Justice Mostyn. The challenge was brought by a group of District Councils and campaign group Keep the Horton General.

The proposed reconfiguration included the removal of obstetric services, 46 bed closures and the removal of level 3 critical care.

It was argued that the consultation was unlawful for numerous reasons, including the fact it was split into two phases where many issues dealt with in Phase 2 were interlinked with Phase 1 issues. In addition, the CCG failed to consult on the new bed closure test which was announced by Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, on 3 March 2017.

Judgment was reserved, and Mostyn J ordered that the CCG do not take further steps in relation to the consultation or decision until judgment was handed down.

Mr Justice Mostyn released his judgement on 21 December 2017, rejecting the arguments that the consultation was unfair.

On the advice of our legal team, Leigh Day, that there was a strong case for appeal, KTHG called an Extraordinary General Meeting in January 2018, at which members voted by a majority to go ahead with an appeal.

Speaking after the EGM, KTHG chairman Keith Strangwood said, "We have come this far and have been supported wholeheartedly by the public, financially and in spirit. This is not the time to let those people down. We will fight to the bitter end if needs be. We would be failing the memory of George Parish, our beloved previous Chairman, if we folded meekly at this stage".

Appeal papers were lodged in January 2018. Meanwhile, our fundraising team pressed on, organising numerous events over the year to boost the fighting fund in the hope that permission to appeal would be granted.

Finally on 30 October 2018, KTHG learnt that we have won the right to appeal against Mr Justice Mostyn's decision in December 2017 into the legality of the split consultation process by the Oxford Clinical Commissioning Group regarding the downgrade of the Horton General Hospital.

The fight goes on!


Banbury Trades & Labour Club, Friday 9th November 2018

In aid of KTHG's Horton Fighting Fund

We're really excited to announce our latest KTHG fundraiser - an evening of music with Chuckletruck, the Banbury group who are regulars at 60s weekends supporting top name artists!

Chuckletruck are a great supporter of local causes - they sold out when they played the Labour Club last year in aid of Katharine House Hospice - and we're hoping they can do the same again, this time in aid of the Horton fighting fund. There will also be a raffle on the night.

Over 12's only please!

Where: Banbury Trades & Labour Club, West Bar, Banbury
When: Friday 9th November, doors open 7pm for 8.30pm start

Tickets are £6 each, available from the Banbury Trades & Labour Club (01295 254168) and Star Travel in Broad Street (01295 271637)

Chuckletruck poster for KTHG fundraiser 9 11 2018

Horton campaign group will assist survey into maternity experiences

2 October 2018

The town's hospital campaign group, Keep the Horton General has offered full support to the Horton HOSC's bid to discover people's experiences of the new maternity system, reports the Banbury Guardian, 2 October 2018.

The group responded positively to a suggestion made by town, district and county councillor Cllr Kieron Mallon about OCCG's proposed survey to gauge public opinion.

Mr Mallon said: "When gathering evidence before making decisions could you use the experience of mothers and their testimony that that come directly through the Keep the Horton General group? There is still a feeling of mistrust in this part of the world and I wonder whether some of those mothers and their families would be willing to fully engage with anything to do with Oxford.

"It may help you with some of the historic mistrust you may face as they may be willing to give their evidence through that third party and a lot of that evidence is corroborated, it's not anecdotal. There are names and dates. That way you may get some real experiences that you may not otherwise get because of this feeling of mistrust."

KTHG member, former Horton consultant physician Dr Peter Fisher accepted happily on behalf of the group. He said: "We'd already sent each member of the Horton HOSC a collection of experiences women have reported to us since the closure of obstetrics. These reports continue to come in and we will look to collect more. We will be happy to supply these to OCCG with the consent of the women."

Dr Fisher said KTHG's submitted dossier dissects the case for and against downgrade in the light of the warnings the group made at the time and whether they were justified. "Some recent cases are at best alarming and at worst dangerous," he said.

Read the original article on the Banbury Guardian's website, here.

Trauma ward restored at Banbury's Horton

1 October 2018

Hospital bosses have restored the Horton General Hospital's top-performing trauma unit, reports the Banbury Guardian, 1 October 2018.

The trauma ward was subjected to controversial cuts in 2016 when 45 beds were closed in all and the 18 trauma beds moved to Oak Ward. But from today (Monday) the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust has moved the 18-bed unit back to F-Ward with the option of reopening the ten closed beds once nursing staff are recruited.

The restoration of the unit means surgeons and their team - which includes a specialist in elderly people's recovery - will be able to take overload from the JR, Oxford. That in turn will help the JR avoid fines for missing operation waiting times.

"The Horton General is ranked as the best in the country for the treatment of patients with hip fractures, according to the 2017 National Hip Fracture Audit," said a spokesman. "The unit will also include a transition area for intensive physiotherapy and occupational therapy to aid patients' recovery."

Also from today the Horton's Renal Dialysis Unit is in its new permanent home on Oak Ward. There are six dialysis stations but the Trust has plans to double the capacity to 12 stations so more Banburyshire people can dialyse locally instead of having to travel to the Churchill Hospital in Oxford for their treatment.

Read the original article on the Banbury Guardian's website, here.

Could GPs be answer to Horton maternity unit future?

27 September 2018

A new proposal to secure a full maternity service at the Horton General Hospital in Banbury involves GPs performing caesarean operations, reports the Banbury Guardian, 27 September 2018.

The GP option will be discussed along with a Cherwell District Council-inspired plan to establish a full obstetric service with an 'alongside' midwife-led birth unit.

The two ideas are among nine to be examined by a new Horton Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee which meets tomorrow (Friday).

Local GP Dr Hugh Gillies said: "GPs are not a safe alternative to experienced middle grade obstetricians. It's not a viable option and anyway, there would not be enough GPs to cover 24 hours a day. I don't think it would be an attractive option to GPs."

The plan brief says there would be obstetric units at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford and the Horton. The staffing model at the Banbury hospital would be local GPs given extra training to be able to perform caesarean sections, with access to on-call support from the JR.

Keep the Horton General chairman Keith Strangwood, whose group has submitted a dossier of information to the Horton HOSC, said the only solution is a return to full obstetrics in Banbury.

"If this GP idea was a serious suggestion it would mean GPs learning to perform caesarean operations at the start of training and we don't have that time," he said. "Already expectant mums are suffering psychological effects of not being able to give birth locally and it needs to be sorted out quickly with a full obstetric service returned to Banbury.

"I hope the councillors will refer the obstetrics with an alongside midwife unit plan to the Secretary of State but we have to expect that a decision by him will take months."

The first meeting of the Horton Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee - the 'Super' HOSC - is at Banbury Town Hall at 2pm.

The HOSC has been formed to include councillors from south Warwickshire and south Northants who were left out of consultation on downgrading the Horton General Hospital last year. Their patients and GPs were not asked their views by Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG).

A referral of the closure of the consultant-led maternity unit to the Secretary of State for Health led to advice from the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (which 'saved' the Horton from total downgrade in 2008) that a scrutiny committee including all catchment areas should be formed. The resulting Horton HOSC will re-examine all the evidence used by OCCG and the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust to justify replacement of the full maternity service by a midwife-only unit in October, 2016.

Read the original article on the Banbury Guardian's website, here.

KTHG attend House of Commons meeting

10 September 2018

On Monday 10 September Keep the Horton General was represented in the House of Commons by KTHG's Charlotte Bird and Roseanne Edwards from the Banbury Guardian.

They attended a meeting 'Is anyone listening?' organised by Steve Carne of 999 Call for the NHS. The purpose was to bring health campaigners together with MPs to discuss the role of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel and the NHS in general.

Spokespeople representing Calderdale and Kirklees 999 Call for the NHS, Fighting 4 Life Lincolnshire, North Kirklees Support the NHS, Save our Hospital Services Devon, Save Rothbury Community Hospital and STITCH (Save the Irreplaceable Torrington Community Hospital) along with a local deputation from Hammersmith representing Charing Cross, addressed 11 MPs. Originally it was thought that six MPS would attend but their figures swelled - possibly as a result of the subject matter being discussed?

Rosie Cooper - Health Select Committee (Labour), Norman Lamb (Liberal Democrat MP for North Norfolk) and Matt Warman (Tory MP for Boston and Skegness) were evidence of the cross party interest in this inaugural event.

Various MPs attending the meeting has previously worked in the NHS so the subject is dear to their hearts. Paula Sheriff who had sponsored the meeting was an NHS employee for 13 years prior to becoming an MP, whilst Eleanor Smith, who will be taking the NHS Reinstatement Bill through Parliament on October 26th, was previously a theatre nurse and Unison rep.

Without exception the MPs urged the campaigners 'to keep the pressure on and to hold the feet of the MPs to the fire'.

The Banbury Guardian reported, on 12 September:

Banbury hospital campaign group Keep the Horton General went to Westminster this week to ask MPs to heed new advice on scrutiny of NHS changes.

The group joined campaigns from around England in a meeting to tell MPs how, in some areas, lack of scrutiny was allowing detrimental downgrades and closures to be enacted undemocratically.

KTHG press officer Charlotte Bird said: "The event was organised by 999 Call for the NHS, a group that works to halt dismantling of local health services.

"The point was the need for genuine scrutiny and the lack of it in some areas. That didn't apply here as the Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee did refer downgrade of the Horton's maternity to the Secretary of State who asked for advice from the Independent Reconfiguration Panel.

"The reason the Horton case is so important is because in this report the IRP called on the Department of Health and NHS England to extend scrutiny to new plans for regional 'systems of care' rather than single organisations such as the Horton."

Ms Bird said this was critical, as it should subject new plans to impose strictly limited budgets on large areas for all health and social care to focussed examination and consultation. The campaigners said they hoped MPs would press Health Secretary Matt Hancock to take up the IRP's advice.

Banbury MP Victoria Prentis said: "Consultations and large-scale changes to health services can be particularly complex. In Oxfordshire we continue to question the methodologies used in previous consultation processes. The role of scrutiny bodies within local authorities and campaign groups cannot be underestimated. Scrutiny to ensure patient safety and choice is absolutely vital."

Read the original article on the Banbury Guardian's website, here.

Horton campaign goes to London ahead of NHS birthday events in Banbury

Event date: Saturday 30 June 2018

Banbury hospital campaign group Keep the Horton General celebrated the 70th birthday of the NHS by unveiling its new banner at the march in London on Saturday (30 June 2018). The campaigners' banners stretched across the front of the march of an estimated 50,000 from the BBC's Broadcasting House to Whitehall, writes Roseanne Edwards in the Banbury Guardian, 3 July 2018

Keep the Horton General campaigners with new banner

KTHG chairman Keith Strangwood said: "It was the perfect launch - a new banner for the 70th anniversary of our NHS. We went down to London with a coachload of ardent Horton campaigners from our group and the GMB union. Our campaign got a lot of attention photographers and we were proud to be on BBC and Sky and other news media.

"We thought it a cynical move of the Department of Health to announce on the same day the scaling back of a number of routine operations that bring huge relief to patients. It goes to show that our fight, for patients' rights to treatments in local hospitals such as the Horton to keep them living and working healthily, is far from over."

Keep the Horton General campaigners with new banner

Although the Horton was opened in 1872 it was embraced by the National Health Service when it was launched on July 5, 1948. To celebrate the actual 70th anniversary of the NHS on Thursday (July 5) the OUH has organised a variety of events at its hospitals. Each will stage a Big 7 Tea party with strawberries and cream - and tea. This will happen between noon - 2pm in the restaurant of the Horton.

In the main entrance at 1pm there will be the cutting of a celebratory birthday cake. There will also be an exhibition of art works. The trust has dug deep into the archives to find images which illustrate the changing face of the NHS in Oxfordshire over the last 70 years. The resulting photography exhibition went on display from Monday in all four of its hospital sites. At Banbury it can be seen in the corridor between the main Horton reception to the restaurant (near the chapel).

GMB drummer Tommy Robertson provides percussion for the marchers

GMB drummer Tommy Robertson provides percussion for the marchers.

All Horton staff are invited to a special lunch event on site on Thursday while the Horton's A&E Matron Michelle Brock will be attending a service of national celebration of thanks for the NHS in Westminster Abbey with OUH chief Dr Bruno Holthof and Nuffield nurse Ariel Lanada.

NHS founder Aneurin Bevan's watch - a family heirloom - was worn by KTHG press office Charlotte Bird for the demo.

KTHG press officer wears the watch of NHS founder, Aneurin Bevan

KTHG press officer Charlotte Bird proudly wears the watch of NHS founder, Aneurin Bevan, during Saturday's march.

Read the original article on the Banbury Guardian's website, here.

Horton hospital neighbours welcome inclusion in 'Super-HOSC'

25 May 2018

Warwickshire's health leader has welcomed his inclusion in a new group being set up to re-examine evidence used to downgrade the Horton consultant maternity unit, writes Roseanne Edwards in the Banbury Guardian, 25 May 2018. Cllr Wallace Redford will be one of two cross-border members of a super-HOSC which will finally give residents of south Warwickshire and south Northants a voice in the Horton's future.

A HOSC is a Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee made up of elected councillors and Oxfordshire's - run with district councils - referred the loss of obstetrics from Banbury to the Secretary of State for Health for review.

Mr Redford told the Banbury Guardian: "People in south Warwickshire and south Northants didn't feel their comments (on health service changes) were being addressed. The Secretary of State recognised it and said we have got to have this joint HOSC.

"The first item under discussion will be the maternity service," he said. "We are very concerned about the long travel distances to obstetric services. Many of our villages are very rural and do not have bus services. For those without a car you need buses."

Mr Redford - who is co-chair of the Warwickshire and Coventry Joint HOSC - said he was having serious discussions with Stratford-on-Avon district councillors. "Through me, they will be feeding into the process the issues they have specifically raised," he said. "I have spoken to the new deputy leader of Stratford-on-Avon District Council so I understand exactly what the local issues are for Horton patients in south Warwickshire."

Mr Redford said he expected the super-HOSC to meet well before the school summer holidays and that before then, he would be able to have a meeting with Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) to understand its long-term plans for health and social care changes in the light of government budget cuts.

"On many occasions I feel I'm running to catch up as clinical commissioning groups take decisions we have not necessarily been informed about in face-to-face discussions," said Mr Redford. He said he had asked his committee clerk to arrange meetings. "If possible I'd like to meet with OCCG before that first super-HOSC meeting."

He said Warwickshire County Council's Joint HOSC with Coventry City was very successful and he hoped the collaboration with Oxfordshire colleagues would be as useful. "I am hopeful we can get this going well quickly and that it will have teeth," he said.

South Northamptonshire will be represented by a health and scrutiny councillor. A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said: "This important partnership will help to rigorously monitor and scrutinise the planning, provision and operation of health services at Horton General Hospital in Banbury.

"We welcome this measure to ensure residents continue to receive high quality care when they need it most. An announcement detailing our representative is imminent."

Campaigners and councillors in Oxfordshire are already collecting information to give strength to arguments that the evidence for removing consultant-led maternity to Oxford was not sufficiently convincing. Keep the Horton General campaign chairman Keith Strangwood said: "It was never acceptable that patients from across the borders - who made up a third of the Horton catchment - were not consulted about the downgrade."

Read the original article on the Banbury Guardian's website.

Banbury campaign expert warns of visa 'perfect storm'

"Absurd barrier to recruiting the doctors the NHS desperately needs"

Banbury Guardian, 21 May 2018

A senior member of Banbury's hospital campaign group has written to the new Home Secretary over immigration rules that are endangering local services, writes Roseanne Edwards in the Banbury Guardian, 21 May 2018.

Dr Peter Fisher of Keep the Horton General has sent Sajid Javid a paper, written by his professional association (Doctors for the NHS) citing the dangers of limiting visas for desperately needed specialists.

"I sent him the report as not only does it touch on the alleged reason for removing our obstetric (consultant-led maternity) service but this absurd barrier to recruiting the doctors the NHS desperately needs is having serious effects nationwide," said Dr Fisher. "On appointment he said he will deal not only with the Windrush scandal but look at the whole immigration policy so it seemed a good moment to provide him with detailed reasons why he must honour this commitment."

KTHG campaigner and retired Horton consultant physician, Dr Peter Fisher

KTHG campaigner and retired Horton consultant physician, Dr Peter Fisher.

Dr Fisher was referring to the specialist doctor shortage and inability to recruit middle grade obstetricians to the Horton cited by Oxford University Hospitals Trust to justify removing full maternity to Oxford. The trust's stance will be central to the re-examination of the downgrade by a 'Super-HOSC', a health overview and scrutiny committee for Oxfordshire, south Northants and south Warwickshire.

This new body is being set up in response to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel's (IRP) report on replacing Banbury's maternity with a midwife-only service. The IRP felt the proposal should have been scrutinised by elected councillors in the cross-border communties that see the Horton as their local hospital. Dr Fisher sent the paper to the new Home Secretary - appointed after Amber Rudd quit over the issue of targets for deportation of illegal immigrants - to warn of a 'perfect storm' caused by visa restrictions at a time of huge specialist shortages that are causing closures of wards all over the country.

Written by Dr Peter Trewby, (the report) says: "A squeeze on the number of visas issued and competition for those available meant in December 2017, the points bar for admission was raised (from 20 points) to 55.

"To score 55 points, a doctor needs to earn an unattainable £55,000 (the salary for middle grade posts are £36,000 to £46,000). Many trusts have been caught short with doctors unable to obtain visas.

"Current rules already prevent trusts apppointing to posts if British or EU doctors apply. "Restrictions on migration will force trusts to employ more locums, drawn from the already over-stretched resident workforce. The effect will be more gaps on rotas, more stress amongst medical staff and yet more money spent on locums," he writes.

"The World Health Organisation estimates a world shortage of two million doctors. We must question whether it is right for the sixth richest nation in the world to be so dependent on international graduates trained at the expense of countries that can ill-afford to train their own doctors, let alone ours. The situation for medical migration post-Brexit will add further to the woes of medical staffing departments."

Dr Trewby called for much greater concentration on training new doctors in Britain. Read more at www.doctorsforthenhs.org.uk/visa-restrictions-and-medical-staffing-a-perfect-storm/ The consultant physician was, until recently, Associate International Director at the Royal College of Physicians.

Read the original article on the Banbury Guardian's website.

Two demonstrations coming up

Oxford, 9th June 2018

London, 30th June 2018 - FREE COACH from Oxford

The following demonstrations have been brought to our attention by our friends at Oxford Keep Our NHS Public.

Oxford - 9 June

The Oxford demonstration on 9th June is organised by UNISON and calls for an end to the staffing crisis locally.

"We need Oxford weighting to save our NHS. Oxfordshire's NHS has one of the worst staffing crisis in the country due to the difficulties recruiting and retaining staff due to the very high cost of living in the area. The lack of staff is undermining services and patient care, causing bed closures, and increasing stress. Staff are working their days off and holidays to plug the gaps in services and make ends meet," states KONP Oxfordshire.

"All of Oxfordshire's MPs and employers agree that staff need to be paid a cost of living payment to keep local services running. In response the government has said that this year's pay offer will solve the problem - except it won't - the majority of staff will be poorer than they are now in 3 years time if they accept the deal.

"Thames Valley Police get up to £3000 a year for living in the area. NHS staff should get the same. We can't let ourselves be fobbed off any longer."

London - 30 June

The London event on 30 June is a combined celebration / demonstration for the 70th birthday of the NHS.

"A decade of austerity, underfunding and top down reforms have stretched our health service to breaking point. Never has there been a more urgent time in her 70 year history to stand up and defend what is yours," writes KONP. "Come out to defend the NHS on June 9th in Oxford and on 30th June in London. Bring your family, your friends, your loved ones and anyone who cares about the future of healthcare in this country."

The London event is being organised by The People's Assembly, HCT, TUC, Unison, Unite, GMB, RCN, BMA and BDA. You can book a free seat on Oxford transport by calling 07503 169657 or online here.

Click the image below for the flyer in pdf format.

NHS demo 9 June Oxford and 30 June London

The status of Keep the Horton General

23 May 2018

Keep the Horton General (KTHG) has become aware that there are some misconceptions regarding its status so is providing this official clarification.

KTHG's remit is to try to ensure the best possible health care for the people of the area often referred to as Banburyshire (N.Oxon, S. Northants and S. Warwickshire). A key element is the Horton itself and, as our name suggests, we believe that whilst certain conditions are better accommodated in a larger centre, the rapidly growing population of our area needs a General Hospital - in the full sense of that term. Our hospital grew and developed steadily in the range of services provided from its foundation in the 1870s for over a hundred years.

Sadly in the last two decades that process has been halted and latterly in important aspects, reversed, including the removal of senior staff. We believe that patients are benefitted by close working relationships between hospital and GPs and this is best achieved with locally based consultants, as previously.

We discuss with, and question those, who supply the services but we believe that the public - who through their taxes pay for them - have a right to be fully consulted on any proposed change whilst it is still at a formative stage and their views properly taken into account. We will oppose any such proposals if this process has not taken place and we believe the change not to be in the interests of local patients.

KTHG is not affiliated to any political party but reserves the right to criticize government actions/inactions if we believe them to be damaging, recognizing that governments of all complexions share responsibility for the current state of the NHS.

KTHG will work with anyone who shares our aims. We are grateful to all those who have shown their support in various ways. We are absolutely committed to our cause and encourage you to be part of this vital campaign.

KTHG's official FB page is https://www.facebook.com/SaveOurHorton/. There are other pro-Horton pages but these are not controlled by KTHG.

Supporter to run half-marathon to raise campaign funds

Event date: Sunday 13th May 2018

Horton supporter David Scrimgeour is running the Stratford on Avon half marathon next weekend to raise money for the campaign.

Mr Scrimgeour, whose children were born at the Horton General Hospital, says "The Horton General Hospital, Banbury, is my local hospital. It was where my children Eve and Alex were born. Eve was born in 2013 by emergency C-section. The reality is Banbury women no longer have this option and have to be transferred to Oxford, 40 minutes away - a scary prospect for labouring women. The long term future of the hospital is under threat from downgrading certain departments and relocating services to Oxford, 30 miles away. Changes that have already taken place include downgrading the maternity department to a Midwife Led Unit.

"Despite Banbury's population increasing over recent years, a trend set to continue, services provided by the hospital are reducing.

"I hope to complete my first ever half marathon in Stratford Upon Avon, Sunday 13th May. If you are willing to donate to my crowd funding appeal, with all funds raised going direct to the 'Keep the Horton General' campaign, it would be greatly appreciated."

If you can, please support David on his crowdfunding page here.

Thanks David and thanks to everyone supporting his fundraising!

Co-op extends Horton help to 11 Banburyshire stores

Banbury Guardian, 2 May 2018

The Midcounties Co-op has put its weight behind the campaign to save Horton services by welcoming collecting tins in its Banburyshire stores, writes Roseanne Edwards in the Banbury Guardian, 2 May 2018. The 11 convenience stores have put Keep the Horton General (KTHG) campaign group tins on their counters to help raise money for the Horton Fighting fund.

Banbury area Co-op stores are having Horton Hospital collecting tins. Mike Large, Ruscote Co-op manager (left) KTHG chair Keith Strangwood (centre) and Darren Bott, team manager, Hanwell Fields Co-op (right) with the new KTHG collection tins.

Mike Large, Ruscote Co-op manager (left) KTHG chair Keith Strangwood (centre) and Darren Bott, team manager, Hanwell Fields Co-op (right) with the new KTHG collection tins.

KTHG member Ken Hopkins said the group would get the full benefit from the money donated since the tins and labels had been donated to the cause by Horton supporters. "We're very grateful to SPS Highprofile Plastic Products on Tramway Estate for giving us 20 collection tins. And one of our regular Keep the Horton General supporters paid for the special labels," he said.

Mike Large from the Co-op said: "At Midcounties Cooperative we are champions of supporting local causes that really matter to the communities we serve, so naturally we are proud to support such an important cause in the Banbury area.

"Keith (Strangwood) and his team do such great work on behalf of every local person that relies on the services provided by the Horton General Hospital and personally I am happy that we have found some way to reinforce their efforts."

Collecting tins will be found in Banbury Co-op stores in Ruscote Arcade, Ferriston, Chatsworth Drive, Queensway, Rotary Way, Burchester Place and at Ruscote Post Office. KTHG tins will also be at Co-op shops in Kings Sutton, Deddington, Bloxham and Middleton Cheney.

Mr Strangwood said: "We are still doing all we can to raise money for our fighting fund which has been paying legal fees in our continuing bid to ensure Banbury keeps acute services at the Horton."

Read the original article on the Banbury Guardian's website, here.

Update on the Judicial Review of NHS England's contentious Accountable Care Organisation contract

27 April 2018

Campaigners from Keep Our NHS Public Oxfordshire, KTHG's lawyers Leigh Day and barristers from the Landmark Chambers (who acted for KTHG last December) were among those fighting for the integrity of the NHS at Leeds High Court on 27 April 2018. The organisation "999 Call for the NHS" has brought the case, which is of national interest, in an attempt to prove that the Accountable Care Organisation systems planned to take charge of NHS provision and spending across England, are illegal.

NHS campaigners at Leeds High Court, 27 April 2018

Summarising the events of the day, "999 Call for the NHS" wrote:

"999 Call for the NHS was in Leeds High Court on 24th April for the hearing of our Judicial Review of NHS England's contentious Accountable Care Organisation contract. Our challenge was that the contract's introduction of a new payment mechanism is unlawful under current NHS and social care legislation and national tariff rules. The contract is designed to "manage demand" - which basically means restricting and denying health care to patients. This would undermine the core principle that the NHS provides comprehensive healthcare to everyone who has a clinical need for it.

As expected, Judge Kerr reserved judgment, so we have to wait for his decision. But he said we would not have to wait for very long "as this is a matter of some urgency".

For the first hour or so of the hearing, it was only the two legal teams, Steve Carne and Jenny Shepherd for 999 Call for the NHS, and a bunch of grey and black-clad folk in the public gallery. We have no idea who they were. Meanwhile outside the court buildings, about a hundred campaigners held a #JusticeforNHS rally.

Pink and yellow banners, ribbons, placards splashed colour across an otherwise dull precinct outside the court buildings as speakers from across the country gave short testimonies about the effects to patients of severe cuts and changes to the NHS in their region. The picture they painted was one of closures, restricted care and threats to patient safety and access to care. As the rally ended, the court filled with brightly dressed campaigners who observed proceedings keenly and whose colourful presence enlivened the atmosphere.

The ACO contract payment model is based on paying a fixed amount for a whole range of health care services for a given population, regardless of how many patients receive treatment or how complex that treatment is.

David Lock explained that one of the key hinges of the argument about why the ACO contract payment mechanism in unlawful is that the 2012 Health and Social Care Act legislated for the NHS to operate as a managed market with competition between providers for contracts and patients on the basis of quality NOT price. So anything like the ACO contract's Whole Population Annual Payment that served to drive down payment for health care services would go against the 2012 Health and Social Care Act.

The judge asked a number of questions to clarify what the National Tariff means in the 2012 Health and Social Care Act and concluded that as well as meaning a price for specific services, it is also "sort of delegated legislation" which he described as "mandated rules given to Monitor to balance the interests of commissioners and providers."

David Lock then started to pick apart inconsistencies in NHS England's position, to much head shaking by NHS England's barrister and much passing of notes from the NHS England and Monitor solicitors to the barrister. He concluded his explanation of the legal arguments about why the ACO contract's payment mechanism is unlawful, by saying that because it does not pay for specified healthcare services, it is not in line with statutory procedures. And that the statutory scheme cannot be stretched so far, because that would abandon price.

The Judge said the argument was now clear.

However the NHS England barrister asserted that the National Tariff statutory scheme is so broad that it provides a "host of discretions to Monitor" about both price setting and the mandated rules it has to follow. And that "flexibility" included changing prices up AND down. And the "panoply of features awarded to Monitor" means it can basically change National Tariff specifications or services that are not specified in the National Tariff.

She claimed that one of the justifications of the ACO contract is to drive innovation in procedures which could be more efficient, and that is why Parliament gave Monitor such latitude in the HSCA 2012. A point which the Judge returned to, asking if price competition based on innovation is not an evil, but price competition based on price alone would be.

This point seemed odd because if the NHS is a National Health Service, surely any innovation that increases efficiency should be introduced across the whole NHS, not in one Accountable Care Organisation in order to achieve a competitive advantage over another Accountable Care Organisation or another bit of the NHS which was not in an Accountable Care Organisation.

The NHSE barrister spent a fair amount of time waffling about issues that had no bearing on the question of whether or not the whole population annual payment mechanism in the ACO contract is lawful. She also surprisingly told the judge that the outcome of this judicial review would have a bearing on the second judicial review of the Accountable Care Organisation contract in London in May, and put pressure on him to make a decision before then, leading the Judge to remark "No pressure there then."

This was annoying, since NHS England had previously objected to our application to have both Judicial Reviews heard at the same time in order to save court time and costs, because they said the two Judicial Reviews concerned such different legal issues.

This is just the barest sketch of some key points. A bunch of information came out in court that will repay proper attention.

In his reply to NHS England, David Lock nailed various false arguments advanced by their barrister and reaffirmed the point that the 2012 Health and Social Care Act requires commissioners to pay providers the price payable under the National Tariff, and that this is not possible with the Whole Population Annual Payment.

We await Judge Kerr's ruling with cautious optimism.

In the meantime, we want to point out (again) that we are not advocating the 2012 HSCA as a desirable piece of legislation. Far from it - our Judicial Review is simply pointing out that public bodies like NHS England are required to act according to the law, and 2012 HSCA is the law at the moment.

We can see from where whole population payment has been used by ACOs in other countries, that it is a mechanism for shifting risk on to patients, cherry picking them on the basis of financial decisions not clinical need. In the UK, combined with harsh financial system controls, this payment mechanism would shift financial risk to providers - and therefore to patients, as it would increase current pressures to restrict patients' access to elective (planned) care. This would accelerate the development of a two tier health system, where those who can afford to pay go private and the rest are left with limited NHS care.

Our preferred form of payment - and what we have campaigned for since 2014 - is to reinstate the NHS by passing the NHS Reinstatement Bill, which removes commissioning and privatisation from the NHS and uses non-contract payment methods based on needs assessment and proper funding.

A huge thanks to all the campaigners who joined us in Leeds and for all the messages of support that we received. They meant a great deal to us and we hope we can all gather strength from one another in the coming months.

Jenny, Jo and Steve and the 999 Call for the NHS team"

NHS campaigners at Leeds High Court, 27 April 2018

OCCG releases paper on the future of the Horton General Hospital

Phase 2 consultation may be axed

23 March 2017

Not for the first time this month, Keep the Horton General (KTHG) finds itself less jubilant than others about the latest news regarding the future of the Horton General Hospital (HGH.) This time it is the recently released paper, to be discussed at next week's Board meeting of the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG).

The paper asks the OCCG Board/Governing Body to agree that the following services should remain, "in line with the views from OCCG Clinicians and the OUH":

  • the Emergency Department and associated services at the Horton General Hospital;
  • the Paediatric Services at the Horton General Hospital;
  • the current three permanent freestanding Midwife Led Units (in Chipping Norton, Wantage and Wallingford)

The paper also asks the board to:

  • confirm that the review of the proposed elements of phase two means there will be no phase two consultation;
  • note that the future provision of an obstetric service or change to a permanent freestanding midwife led unit at the Horton General Hospital will be determined by the outcome of the work undertaken to address the recommendations from the Secretary of State.

At face value it paints a picture of a secure future for Paediatrics and A&E at the Horton. However, Keith Strangwood, Chairman of KTHG, remarks, "The devil is in the detail. What we don't know is the extent of the commitment. How long is it for? Exclusions are hinted at - what are they?"

Retired HGH consultant Peter Fisher, interviewed today by BBC South TV and Radio Oxford, commented "We welcome (the OCCG report) as far as it goes but before we claim total victory we want to see (the proposals) accepted by the Board. In particular how they intend to proceed in terms of Obstetrics and how they will accommodate the views of the public".

Keith Strangwood emphasised "KTHG is very keen to be part of any consultation process moving forward. We represent the people of Banburyshire and all we seek is the best possible outcome for them".

Click here for details of Thursday's OCCG Board Meeting which will be held at Banbury Town Hall from 9.00 a.m. to 12.45 p.m.

Independent Reconfiguration Panel reports on Horton downgrade

7 March 2018

The long-overdue results of the initial assessment of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) have been announced on the downgrade of the consultant-led maternity unit at the Horton. The following is an initial response by the Keep the Horton General Committee, pending full examination of the IRP's long report.

"The Keep the Horton General Campaign Group is concerned that this falls short of key recommendations the campaign group was hoping would be made. We are examining the long IRP report and expect to be able to update supporters with an official report shortly."

Click here for the IRP's report

CQC finds multiple problems in Oxfordshire's health & social care systems, but praises frontline staff

4 March 2018

The Care Quality Commission has performed and published a local system review of how well Oxfordshire's health and social care providers work together. The following article, from the Health Service Journal, summarises their findings. KTHG comment can be found at the foot of the article.

CQC finds 'no evidence of commitment' to integration in challenged system

Sarah Brennan, Health Service Journal, February 20, 2018

  • CQC criticises quality of patient discharges from Oxfordshire hospitals
  • Local system review found "little collaboration between system partners"
  • Organisations have struggled with staff recruitment and retention

Patients in Oxfordshire "did not always receive safe discharges home", a report by the Care Quality Commission has revealed.

The regulator has published a local system review of how well the county's health and social care providers work together.

During its visit at the end of November, it found multiple problems with the inpatient discharge process. The report said delayed transfers of care peaked at 39.9 delayed days per 100,000 over summer 2017. Although it has dropped since then, the rate is above the national average.

The review found:

Some people were discharged between 2am and 3am, which the CQC said was "unacceptable".

"Some discharges may have happened too soon" - compared to the national average, lengths of stay in hospital were shorter but readmissions were higher throughout 2016-17.

The effectiveness of discharge services had "declined" over the last two years with 80 per cent of people over 65 still at home 91 days after discharge compared to national average of 82 per cent.

"Widespread concerns" regarding provision and accuracy of discharge data. Over half of social care providers that responded said they did not receive discharge summaries for over 50 per cent of the patients referred to them. Some letters gave no information that patients' medicines had been stopped.

Over 71 per cent of discharges were unplanned, according to data supplied by South Central Ambulance Service Foundation Trust.

The report showed emergency services in Oxfordshire were under pressure. Escalation processes had become "normalised among frontline staff" with the region operating at levels three or four on the OPEL framework for 80 per cent of November and December. The report added: "Some leaders and frontline staff we spoke with voiced concerns that planning for winter had been left too late."

The review also found there was "little collaboration between system partners". Although relationships had improved after historically being "dificult", there were still "deep rooted issues in respect of organisational culture [and] trust". However, it said following recent changes in leadership there was a "more open culture" in the region.

The CQC was told Oxfordshire was working towards an integrated care system but found "no evidence of commitment from partners to drive this, or a plan to achieve it".

The review also found the region was "particularly challenged" with recruitment and workforce retention, with staff reporting "heavier workloads" as a result of understaffing.

Despite this, frontline staff were "dedicated to providing high quality, person centred" care. The CQC recognised organisations were looking to solve workforce shortages through innovation in new roles and care models, as well as working with councils to address affordable housing.

The region was also praised for good, but limited, examples of joint working through the better care fund and other initiatives.

The review covered Oxfordshire County Council, Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Oxford Health FT, Oxford University Hospitals FT, South Central Ambulance Service FT, local voluntary groups and services users.

The Department of Health and Social Care asked the CQC to undertake 20 local reviews of health and social care integration across the country. So far, it has published 10 of the resulting reports.

The original article is available from the Health Service Journal (by subscription) here.

KTHG vice chair Charlotte Bird commented, "The CQC's report reflects confirmation of KTHG's (and Banbury's) serious concerns about the foundations of a newly formed system of health services that have resulted in downgrading of the Horton General Hospital when clearly the CQC agrees that the new system of home and community care is not in place. It would appear the hospitals are not coping, patients are being exposed to risk and the commissioners (the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group) has rushed ahead with plans to achieve cost savings through the Oxfordshire Transformation Plan without having taken account of the predictions and fears of thousands who responded to the public consultation, warning that a new system must be in place and proven to work before beds were closed and acute services centralised."

Campaign group Keep Our NHS Public gives evidence on the danger Accountable Care Systems and Organisations present to the NHS

Article date 4 March 2018

The following article is taken from campaign group Keep Our HNHS Public's website.

"We were pleased to be invited as Keep Our NHS Public to give oral evidence to the Commons Health & Social Care Committee (HSC) inquiry into Sustainability and Transformation Plan and Accountable Care Systems and Organisations on Tuesday 27 February 2018. Tony O'Sullivan (KONP) joined the panel including three participants in the Judicial Review for the NHS - Professor Allyson Pollock, Dr Colin Hutchinson (Doctors for the NHS) and Dr Graham Winyard."

Click here to read KONP's article about the event.

Keep the Horton General joins KONP in being extremely concerned about ACOs (now renamed in an apparent attempt to confuse the public and separate the plans from previous negative publicity). That Keep Our NHS Public, a highly experienced panel of NHS professionals, are issuing extreme warnings about the introduction of such a commercially driven break up of the National Health Service should be taken as a serious warning that developments are not in the public interest.

Retired paediatrician Tony O'Sullivan is co-chair of Keep Our NHS Public. He argues that accountable care organisations are financially driven, will break up the NHS and impose unaccountable management organisations.

"I recently appealed to chair of the Health Select Committee, Sarah Wollaston to scrutinise accountable care systems and organisations (ACSs / ACOs), before they are imposed by Jeremy Hunt and Simon Stevens," he writes.

Hunt plans to 'lay' statutory regulation as a 'fix' around the Health & Social Care Act 2012. He refuses to admit that primary legislation is required. He is avoiding the scrutiny of public consultation and parliamentary debate. It is unprecedented to impose such major NHS reorganisation in this way. This breakup of the national NHS into 44-50 separately managed organisations is the second huge structural reconfiguration of the NHS in five years. The management of ACOs will be awarded by competitive tender. They will legally not be NHS organisations. Private sector and PFI-style special purpose vehicles will bid. This cannot be right.

Dr Wollaston's committee has incorporated ACS/ACOs into their STP inquiry and oral evidence commences 27 February. (Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships will morph into ACSs before being hardwired into new organisations - ACOs).

Faced with judicial review challenge, Select Committee and shadow front bench questioning, Hunt has made concessions.

1.There will now be a national public consultation on ACOs and no ACO contract will be signed until consultation is completed.

2. Statutory regulation will not be attempted until after the consultation. He still refuses to accept that ACOs require an Act of Parliament to legitimise them.

One NHSE justification for ACOs is integration of health and social care. But community-based care does not require accountable care structures - rather it requires adequate funding, workforce planning, respect for and trust in professionalism in NHS clinical and managerial staff working with social care. Personal social care should be delivered free at the point of use on a par with healthcare as in Scotland.

I spent my professional life working with families and building inter-agency collaboration to deliver community-based care for children with disability. Care was integrated across hospital and community coordinated with families, social care, education and voluntary sector. We gave meaning to these jargon phrases well before they were hi-jacked by Hunt.

ACOs threaten to disintegrate care and will be accountable to accountants. Cost control totals are already wholly insufficient to meet the health needs of the population. Care will be rationed and services closed in order to balance the ACOs' books. There are frightening risks that have not been explored democratically. This major reorganisation takes place in a context of unprecedented defunding of health and social care.

The Canterbury ACO in New Zealand is the exemplar pulled out as a rabbit from a hat. Yet analysis gives rise to major concern that NHS England can justify claims of delivering excellent community-based care and £26bn of cost savings by 2021. In contrast, Canterbury maintained hospital capacity (NHSE plans closures); community staffing received investment not cutbacks; staff training and support were prioritised; and community care systems took 10 years to be effective not three. New Zealand also reversed its experiment with NHS marketisation in 2000.

England needs to renationalise the NHS and fund it properly, not impose NHS England's ACOs in austerity."

KTHG attend Crowdjustice conference

20 February 2018

Keep The Horton General (KTHG) committee members attended an event in London on 20 February 2018, organised by the group CrowdJustice, whose declared objective is "To make the law accessible to everyone".

The thrust of the conference was to feature a number of instances where CrowdJustice had been instrumental in enabling or furthering a number of cases in the NHS. The three panellists and the chair were junior doctors who each gave an outline of their 'from Whistleblowing to striking-off' issues.

The CrowdJustice panel, 20 February 2018

The panel gave a presentation and a brief summary of their experience in litigation:

  • Dr Ben White, Dr Nadia Masood and three colleagues challenged Jeremy Hunt's infamous junior doctors contract in order to better protect patient wellbeing and safety.
  • Dr White is currently the campaign manager for #JR4NHS, a group that includes high profile figures and academics and is raising money to take a legal case that seeks to challenge the privatisation of health services.
  • Dr Chris Day had his career derailed after he stood up for patient safety and Health Education England attempted to argue that junior doctors did not benefit from statutory whistleblowing protection. Dr Day is part of #TeamHadiza, a group of doctors helping to raise funds for the legal support of Dr. Hadiza Bawa-Garba, who was struck from the medical register, following systemic failures on her ward which lead to the death of a young patient.
  • The panel was led by Dr Aislinn Macklin-Doherty, an NHS junior doctor, cancer specialist trainee and cancer researcher. She is fully committed to providing the best possible care for all patients through a publicly provided, publicly funded and accountable universal healthcare service.

In discussion after the presentations, the KTHG delegates spoke with Matthew Bethell, Campaigns Manager for CrowdJustice. Matthew said the objective of the event had been to publicise CrowdJustice as a source of funds for accessing justice for persons and groups with limited means.

An interesting point made by Dr Ben White and Dr Nadia Masood was that individuals and groups should not to get disheartened if they appear to run out of possibilities to further a case either because an appeal is rejected or one cannot afford the next stage of litigation. Each stage of the legal process plays its part in disseminating information and letting the authorities know that they do not have a free hand to ignore the law and the public. The publicity surrounding each case also further disseminates the message.

What they said was, in itself, very interesting but what was also very useful were contacts the members made such as Professor Sue Richards who is part of the team which applied for the now successful appeal against the refusal of the court to allow a capping order on their case against Accountable Care Organisations (ACOs).

Update on the National Urgent Legal Action for Our NHS - Round 3

22 February 2018

Here follows a very positive update from Peter Roderick of CrowdJustice, on the ongoing battle to challenge the lawfulness of Accountable Care Organisations.

"Dearest supporters,

I'm delighted to let you know that in an important judgment in the High Court this morning, Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb found against the Secretary of State and NHS England who had fiercely resisted our renewed application for a cost capping order. She granted an order that in the event of us losing the (Judicial Review), our liability for the Secretary of State's and NHS England's costs would be no more than £80,000 each; and she ordered them to pay our costs of the hearing.

She found that this was a case which met the statutory test of public interest, brought by responsible and public-spirited individuals, and that as the costs of the defendants were "very high" they should be capped so that the case could go ahead. She added that as the public was funding both sides, as tax-payers and through CrowdJustice, a capping order was "entirely appropriate".

She also ordered that in the event of us winning the (Judicial Review), the defendants' liability to pay our costs would be capped at £115,000. Before the hearing we had offered a cap of £100,000 for our costs.

This judgment is fantastic news and a great relief. We now know that the money our supporters have donated will be enough to pay the defendants' costs if we were to lose the (Judicial Review), and that with a bit more fund-raising we have a good chance of being able to cover our own lawyers' 'reduced fee' costs.

The claimants were represented in Court by Peter Mant of 39 Essex Chambers instructed by Kate Harrison of Harrison Grant Solicitors.

Once again, thanks to every single one of you who has supported this case. It's been critical, heart-warming, and essential for enabling the case to go ahead.

Peter Roderick"

Keep the Horton General is encouraged by the result. Without the safeguard of a cost-capping order, individual campaigners may well think twice about pursuing justice on behalf of the many, while putting their own personal finances at risk. There is, after all, no incentive for the "other side" to skimp on costs with a seemingly bottomless public purse to pay for teams of no-expense-spared lawyers.

We continue to support and follow the national campaign with great interest.

NHS in Crisis march: a roundup of reporting from the day

London, 3 February 2018

Banbury campaigners returned to town at 7pm today, tired but exhilarated after a full day of campaigning in the heart of London and at Westminster. According to Pulse, a publication for GPs in the UK, police estimated that 250,000 people attended the march.

NHS in Crisis protest, London, 3 February 2018

The Keep the Horton General banners were at the head of the march for some time and BBC film footage pinned a Banbury supporter's placard to the top of their online report.

The placard read "Saving Lives Costs Money - Saving Money Costs Lives."

A Horton supporter's placard reading Saving Lives Costs Money - Saving Money Costs Lives.

A Horton supporter's placard reading "Saving Lives Costs Money - Saving Money Costs Lives."

KTHG campaigners at the head of the NHS in Crisis protest march, London, 3 February 2018

KTHG campaigners at the head of the NHS in Crisis protest march.

Marching in a 50-strong Banbury contingent were members of the Banbury branch of the GMB complete with drummers and vuvuzelas.

GMB at the NHS in Crisis protest march, London, 3 February 2018

The Mirror: "Tens of thousands of people marched on Downing Street today to challenge Jeremy Hunt to properly fund the NHS. Health workers, patients, union members and activists joined together to demand an end to the "crisis" in the NHS and push for more money from the Tory Health Secretary to fund hospital beds and medical staff." The Mirror, 3 February 2018.

ITV News: "Thousands of health workers, unions and activists are marching to demand an end to the NHS crisis at a major protest in London. Crowds turned out in the capital's centre to press the government to provide more beds, staff and funding to ease the problems facing the health service. "Keep your hands off our NHS," they chanted as they began marching from near the UCL Hospital towards Downing Street. The event, called 'NHS in crisis: Fix it now', is organised by the People's Assembly and Health Campaigns Together and supported by unions." ITV, 3 February 2018.

Socialist Worker: Video: "Some voices from the national NHS in crisis - fix it now demonstration in London." Socialist Worker, 3 February 2018.

The Sun: "Actor Ralf Little joined thousands marching in central London demo to support the NHS and demand it is given more resources." The Sun, 3 February 2018.

Mail (1&1): "Thousands of people have marched through London demanding more government money for Britain's overburdened National Health Service. Trade unions and the main opposition Labour Party backed the "NHS in crisis: Fix it now" protest. Marchers with placards proclaiming "Save our NHS" and "More staff, more beds, more funds" made their way through central London on Saturday toward Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May's Downing St. office." Mail.com, 3 February 2018.

Huffington Post: "Thousands of health workers, patients and union members took to the streets in London on Saturday protesting against a "crisis" in NHS funding which Jeremy Corbyn has blamed on "Tories and austerity". Huffington Post, 3 February 2018.

Evening Standard: "Tens of thousands have poured into the streets of central London to march on Downing Street protesting a "crisis" in NHS funding. NHS workers, activists and union reps gathered at Gower Street to call on Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to give money for more staff and hospital beds to ease the problems faced by the service. Slogans such as "No ifs, no buts, no NHS cuts" were chanted as protestors held aloft banners slamming Mr Hunt's salary as well as an elaborate sculpture of a vulture tearing into the NHS." Evening Standard, 3 February 2018.

TV: Coverage on the BBC was limited whilst Channel 4 News avoided it altogether. This was very disappointing and prompted complaints by KTHG. While this link takes you to a video about the protest (including several banners made by Horton supporters!) the article itself is concerned with a proposed new tax to fund the NHS and social care, and avoids any mention of the size or purpose of the demonstration. BBC, 5 February 2018.

Simultaneous protest at the Horton General Hospital

Smaller protests also took place across the country, including Banbury. Despite the dreadful weather, a crowd of Horton supporters showed their support for the NHS and solidarity with campaigners up and down the country either in London marching or demonstrating outside their local threatened hospitals. Town Councillors and Labour's Sean Woodcock supported the NHS demonstration, as did Banbury's Conservative MP Victoria Prentis, whose contingent had a photo opportunity at the entrance to Maternity whilst all of the supporters gathered outside the front entrance of the hospital.

Oxfordshire Guardian: "Dozens of protestors rallied at the Horton Hospital as part of a nationwide campaign to highlight concerns about the NHS. Labour group leader Sean Woodcock, who attended the Banbury protest, said: "There was a good crowd considering the poor weather and late notice. It was important to go along and show that there are still people willing to fight for our hospital. Determination among those who attended remains."

Sue Edgar, chair of Labour Health Matters, a working group of the Banbury and Bicester constituency Labour Party, welcomed the local protest and said the group would continue to "battle to prevent irreparable harm being done to our local communities through the loss of a fully functioning hospital".

Oxfordshire Guardian, 7 February 2018.

Protesters outside the Horton General Hospital, 3 February 2018
Protesters outside the Horton General Hospital, 3 February 2018

Rallying call to show support for the Horton

Gathering planned at hospital while battle also goes national

Event date - 3 February 2018

There will be chance to show support for the Horton this Saturday, both at the hospital and at the national event NHS in Crisis: Fix it Now,reports the Banbury Guardian, 1 February 2018.

As reported in last week's paper, Keep the Horton General campaigners will head to London for what has been described as an 'emergency demonstration' organised by the Health Campaigns Together and the People's Assembly.

But there will also be a rally outside the Horton on Saturday morning.

A spokesman for KTHG said: "This Saturday at 11am, Horton Hospital supporters are being being called upon to attend a support the NHS event and give thanks to all our dedicated Horton staff. This event is taking place at the same time as campaigners from across the UK are meeting in London to protest against the NHS cuts across the country, similar to the service cuts we have seen at our Banbury Horton Hospital. Saturday's local Horton hospital event is being organised by KTHG's social media representative Val Ingram.

Keith Strangwood, chairman of KTHG asks that as many as possible attend the Horton 11am event, as many will find it difficult to get to London and join fellow KTHG members in our capital this Saturday. "We will be in London to ensure a show of force from Banbury against service removal from our Horton, is heard in our capital." (he said).

The rallies come in the wake of the recent admission by Oxord hospital bosses they had to take midwives from north Oxfordshire to cope with pressure on the maternity unit at the John Radcliffe Hospital.

The hospital's head of midwifery said the Oxford unit needed to call on midwives to cope with unusually high demand two weekends ago. KTHG said this proved its predictions the JR would not be able to cope with numbers of deliveries if consultant-led maternity was removed from Banbury.

Mr Strangwood said reports that Chipping Norton's duty midwife and seven community midwives from Oxfordshire were called upon to work at the Oxford birth unit were alarming.

"This is extremely worrying if it becomes a common occurrence because of staff shortages," he said. "After removal of our full service we have only one midwife and a care assistant at any time at the Horton. If a multiple births situation happens at the Horton the community midwife is brought in. If all are sent to Oxford, that travel time we have warned about so often, can mean the difference between life and death."

Rosalie Wright, Interim Head of Midwifery at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said:"On the weekend in question, we experienced an unusually high level of demand on our maternity unit at the JR, with an exceptionally high number of women in labour. In order to cope with this level of demand, we followed our normal escalation policy by drafting in our hospital on-call and then our community on-call midwives. This meant that although we continued to offer a service at our Horton MLU, we were unable to offer this at our other Midwifery Led Units during these few hours. Fortunately, no woman required this service during the period in question. Maternity is by nature a responsive service with peaks in demand and therefore requires a flexible approach to staffing."

More details of Saturday's local event can be found on Facebook.

Judge refuses to cap costs in national challenge; tells campaigners to "rely on crowd funding"

31 January 2018

Last week, in a national legal challenge to the lawfulness of Accountable Care Organisations, a judge ruled that arguments on the lawfulness of the Accountable Care Organisations policy itself should be heard. This was great news for the national campaigners and for the many local campaigns fighting to save services at hospitals like the Horton General Hospital.

However, in a shocking move that could have severe ramifications for campaigners planning legal challenges, the judge has refused to cap costs, telling campaigners that "there was good reason to believe (they) would raise the money from crowd funding".

The challengers, who include Prof Stephen Hawking, Dr Allyson Pollock, Dr Colin Hutchinson and others had already raised £180,000 towards the costs. They were confident this would be enough - but they were wrong.

The Secretary of State and NHS England are claiming nearly £100,000 for their costs so far. And NHS England say their costs after a hearing could be around £250,000. While the group doesn't think this is realistic, they estimate that on this basis the liability for costs could be £350,000-£450,000 plus lawyers' costs.

The group asked for a cost capping order and told the court they would withdraw from the case without one. Mr Justice Walker gave permission for a full hearing, but he decided not to cap costs on the grounds that there was 'good reason to believe we would raise the money from crowd funding'.

This is a letter from Oxford NHS campaigner Penny Ormerod pointing out the astonishing decision by a judge not to promote justice in this country.

"This is absolutely disgraceful - why isn't every single Labour and LibDem MP - and any Conservative with a shred of integrity - drawing attention to the outrageous state of British justice this reveals?" she writes to various MPs in Oxford.

"Mr Justice Walker gave permission for a full hearing, but he decided not to cap costs on the grounds that there was good reason to believe we would raise the money from crowd funding. Whatever your views on ACOs and 'reforms' to the NHS, how can it possibly be right that a case the judge himself recognises to be in the public interest can be allowed to be quietly asphyxiated because Hunt & Stevens have unstinting, and apparently unaccountable, access to taxpayers' money and can use it to bully any attempt at opposition or even judicial scrutiny into silence.

"Thousands of concerned taxpayers have already shown how much they want this (judicial review) and have already put their money where their mouth is - how DARE the judge complacently assume the public must offer yet more in order to get any real scrutiny for the massive changes to OUR NHS that Stevens and Hunt are driving through with a speed even Sarah Wollaston and the select committee are queasy about.

"Why isn't this on the front page of every newspaper?

"I hope this will be one of 1,000s of similar emails filling the inboxes of every MP in England demanding that they take a stand against this outsourcing and privatising of the public's access to justice."

KTHG vice-chair Charlotte Bird commented, "KTHG is extremely concerned about this highly questionable decision by Mr Justice Walker. Cases that a judge has ruled to be in the public interest should, without question, be subject to cost caps.

"Without this safeguard, individual campaigners may well think twice about pursuing justice on behalf of the many, while putting their own personal finances at risk. There is, after all, no incentive for the "other side" to skimp on costs with a seemingly bottomless public purse to pay for teams of no-expense-spared lawyers."

If you too are concerned about this case and the precedent it sets, please email your MP using the following addresses:

NHS in Crisis Protest

Update about the national protest we are supporting in London

Event date - Saturday 3 February 2018

We are pleased to report that the coach to take supporters to this protest filled up almost immediately. The coach, which has been organised by the GMB Union in Banbury, will leave the Whatley Hall Hotel at 9am on Saturday 3 February.

If you are still looking for transport, we know that Unison is organising a coach from Oxford to London. Please contact Oxfordshire Unison Health Branch here to book your seat.

We are also aware of a local demonstration, to be held at the Horton on the same day, which is being organised by the Save Our Horton group on Facebook. Please see Facebook for details of this event.

Sir Tony Baldry writes to IRP

Banbury Guardian, 26 January 2017

Former MP and Banbury High Steward Sir Tony Baldry has waded into the Horton campaign with a letter to the review panel chairman.

Sir Tony, who stepped down as MP in 2015, has written to Lord Ribeiro, chair of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP), urging caution as he prepares an initial assessment of the removal of consultant-led maternity from Banbury to Oxford. Lord Ribeiro has been asked for the initial assessment by Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt following referral of the downgrade by the Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny committee.

In his letter, Sir Tony cautioned the chairman about claims that a majority of Banburyshire GPs was in favour of the downgrade. "It was not so long ago the IRP recommended retention of consultant-led maternity services at the Horton and the IRP's report was followed by some very hard work...to ensure (these) could continue.

"At the time...96 local GPs, i.e. every GP within the Horton catchment area, had written a joint letter declaring that the then Oxford Radcliffe NHS Trust's proposals to remove consultant-led maternity services from the HGH were 'unsafe and unsustainable'. "In practice, absolutely nothing has changed," he wrote.

Sir Tony told Lord Ribiero he suspects health bosses will argue that this time, a majority of GPs has supported their proposal. But he said the vote result as 'extremely slim' and took place very soon after three 'very long-serving and senior GPs in Banbury retired and their positions temporarily replaced by locums'.

He said health chiefs had not been willing to provide voting information. "I think it a reasonable inference that those locums, recently arrived in the town, may have voted and if the vote had been taken even a week earlier the result would almost certainly have given a majority of GPs against the proposals." Sir Tony suggested there was 'considerable peer pressure on GPs to suggest that in some ways they were not being 'collegiate' if they sought to support the retention of key services at the Horton'.

"So while I appreciate the IRP cannot entirely ignore the vote of GPs I would suggest it should in no way be seen as being in any way conclusive and I would suggest the IRP revisits its own very detailed and comprehehsive report of just a few years ago and consider that, in practice, nothing has changed so far as the needs of people living in Banbury and the surrounding area are concerned.

"Indeed, those needs have simply grown given the very considerable actual proposed growth of poulation in and around Banbury, north Oxfordshire and surrounding counties. And I would very much hope the IRP would find the conclusions the IRP came to the last time are as valid now as they were then."

The Banbury Guardian has complained to the Information Commissioner about the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group's continued refusal to release information under the Freedom of Information Act about surgeries' voting and the reasons for the timing of last summer's vote.

Read the original article on the Banbury Guardian's website, here

Click the image to read Sir Tony's letter in full.

Letter from Sir Tony Baldry to IRP, January 2018

KTHG agree to press ahead with appeal

17 January 2017

Following Cherwell District Council's decision not to appeal the decision by Mr Justice Mostyn at the Royal Courts of Justice last month into the legality of OCCG's Phase One consultation process, KTHG called an Extraordinary meeting of members this evening to debate whether it goes ahead with an appeal.

The vote was carried by a majority.

Some members were unable to attend due to illness but votes by text were accepted.

The debate lasted two hours but the eventual decision was not to give up.

"We have come this far and have been supported wholeheartedly by the public, financially and in spirit," said KTHG Chairman, Keith Strangwood. "This is not the time to let those people down. We will fight to the bitter end if needs be. We would be failing the memory of George Parish, our beloved previous Chairman, if we folded meekly at this stage," he added.

Horton maternity referred to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel

11 January 2018

As of 11 January 2018, the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, confirmed that he is referring the issue of the withdrawal of consultant led maternity services at the Horton General Hospital to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP).

Whilst requesting 'initial advice' from Lord Ribeiro, Chairman of the IRP, Mr Hunt specified that the advice be delivered by 9 February 2018 'in line with agreed protocol between the Department of Health and the Independent Reconfiguration Panel'.

We are delighted by the Secretary of State's decision. "George Parish and Tony Baldry fought such a hard battle 2006-8 to retain the full services of a District General hospital. We firmly believe the decision made by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel then will stand firm in 2018," said Keep the Horton General Chairman, Keith Strangwood.

Letter from Sec. State for Health Jeremy Hunt to Lord Ribeiro chairman of IRP, 11 Jan 2018

Click the image to read the letter from Sec. State for Health Jeremy Hunt to Lord Ribeiro, chairman of IRP, 11 Jan 2018

Letter from Sec. State for Health Jeremy Hunt to Victoria Prentis MP, 11 Jan 2018

Click the image to read the letter from Sec. State for Health Jeremy Hunt to Victoria Prentis MP, 11 Jan 2018

NHS in Crisis: Fix It Now!

NHS demonstration organised by Health Campaigns Together and The People's Assembly

Event date: Saturday 3 February 2018

KTHG and supporters will be travelling to London on Saturday 3 February to join an Emergency Demonstration called by Health Campaigns Together and the People's Assembly.

About the demonstration, the organisers say, "The #NHSWinterCrisis has now descended into a perpetual year round crisis. A crisis that has brought staff to their knees and patients languishing and even dying in overcrowded waiting rooms and hospital corridors.

It doesn't have to be this way.

When headlines report there is a "third world" crisis in the 6th richest country in the world, let's be clear and call this what it is: an entirely manufactured political crisis by the Tories.

It is time this Government stops blaming patients, nurses, doctors, immigrants, flu and the elderly for their shortcomings. It's time they start listening to the country who is sick of empty promises from the mouths of cowardly politicians. The Tories must heed the call of the public, staff and patients alike who demand that #ourNHS is not only funded properly but brought back into public hands away from the waste and demands of shareholders and bankers' bonuses.

On the 70th year of the NHS we created - We demand that #ourNHS is given back!

We must end the NHS crisis now. Join us on Saturday 3 February, 2018: END THE WINTER CRISIS, FUND #OURNHS"

We are looking into organising a coach to take Horton supporters to London for the event. For details, keep an eye on twitter @saveourhorton or sign up to our email newsletter by emailing keepthehortongeneral@hotmail.co.uk with the word "SUBSCRIBE" in the subject line.

Consultation institute commentary on Mr Justice Mostyn's decision

Published: 3 January 2018

Associates from the Consultation Institute attended the hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in December 2017 and have published this commentary on the consultation and hearing.

"Oxfordshire CCG successfully defends the Judicial Review, but the High Court judgment may give them further headaches

An Institute commentary on Cherwell District Council v Oxfordshire CCG [2017] EWHC 3349 (Admin)

Just before the holidays, the long-awaited Judicial Review into proposed changes to maternity services in the Horton Hospital, Banbury was decided. The Court rejected arguments that the consultation was unfair, but the judgment handed down by Mr Justice Mostyn may not quite be the Christmas present NHS Managers might have wanted.

The facts are simple enough. Obstetric services had already been closed 'temporarily' so that most expectant mothers have travelled to Oxford for their births. The NHS decided to consult on making this arrangement permanent, whilst simultaneously announcing that a further consultation will consider changes to emergency services. Campaigners naturally argued that splitting into two consultations meant that they were not given the full picture in a way that enabled them to give 'intelligent consideration' (Gunning Principle 2) to the initial proposals.

They were to be disappointed. The Judge did not believe this amounted to unfairness, though many an eyebrow will be raised at parts of his judgment.

The CCG is statutorily required to insert into its constitution, a description of the arrangements it has made for public involvement, and claimants argued that it had not done so. The Judge dismissed this as an 'arid technical irrelevance' - which may cause Ministers and senior NHS Managers some embarrassment. Politicians may question the point of inserting requirements like this into Acts of Parliament if the Courts will not take them seriously. Claimants in this and other cases will surely argue that a failure on this point is relevant in demonstrating a lack of sincerity by an organisation when discharging its consultation obligations.

In the High Court, the CCG produced a range of facts and figures on the use of obstetric and paediatric services, which it had refused to disclose to the campaigners. This material convinced the Judge that the first consultation's outcome would not prejudice the planned second consultation. The Judge admits however, that, in its absence, the claimants could reasonably claim that the latter exercise might be pre-determined, but still insisted that this did not amount to unfairness. This seems quite contrary to the comparable situation in the Save our Surgery (Leeds Infirmary) case in 2013 where Mrs Justice Nicola Davies ruled that a lack of transparency on key information was unfair.

In discussing whether a consultation is unfair, the Judge says, "I think it is likely to be determined by the 'I know it when I see it' legal technique." This is not exactly helpful to the hundreds of public servants trying to ensure they comply with the law of consultation.

The Judge had to consider whether the introduction of a new NHS England test to examine the case for withdrawing hospital beds had been met. Although he says that in this respect the consultation was flawed, 'the omission, while regrettable, and somewhat troubling, was not sufficiently material to lead to a finding that the consultation was unfair...'

The case turned in part on the credibility of the impact predicted for the decision. The NHS argued that making the Horton Hospital a free-standing Midwifery-led Unit would (per the consultation paper) lead to a reduction in births from 1,466 in 2015/2016 to somewhere between 200 and 500 - in percentage terms, approx. 13% to 34%. Campaigners argued that evidence elsewhere indicated that the anticipated figure would be about 6% and that therefore the CCG was misleading the public. The Judge rejected this argument - 'I do not believe that anyone reading the document could have been in the slightest doubt as to the scope and impact of the proposals ...' It begs several questions as to the accuracy with which consultorsmust approach impact assessments (See Tuesday Topic 328 - September 2017)

As with other legal challenges of this nature, cases can go either way depending upon the arguments advanced by lawyers and the views of individual judges. In this case, neither the NHS or the local authorities would have been certain of success, and campaigners will have been relying as much on political pressure as on legal action.

The Institute believes that a better public consultation process might have saved enormous costs and delays, and if the case is referred to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel, we predict that this will be its conclusion. In the meantime, there is a possible Appeal, at which some of the points raised in this article may be re-examined. Uncertainty of this kind is bad for the NHS and bad for public engagement. We urgently need better ways of resolving disputes about consultations.

Rhion H Jones LL.B
The Consultation Institute
December 2017

Read the original commentary on the Consultation Institute's website, here.

Questions raised over new CEO of Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group

5 January 2018

The Board of Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) has announced the appointment of Louise Patten as interim chief executive officer (CEO).

According to the OCCG's website, Ms Patten, who is chief officer at NHS Aylesbury Vale and NHS Chiltern CCGs in Buckinghamshire, began her Oxfordshire role on 1 January 2018, following the retirement of David Smith who has been at the helm of OCCG since April 2014.

Ms Patten led the successful Buckinghamshire application to become one of the first eight NHS Accountable Care Systems - a fact that greatly concerns campaigners. To find out why Accountable Care Systems should be fought at all costs, see our article below or our dedicated ACO and STP page.

Read the OCCG's report on the OCCG website, here.

The latest threat to the NHS - Accountable Care Organisations

Another top-down imposed reorganisation of the NHS - with no mandate

January 2018

"Accountable Care Organisations: they are not accountable, they don't care and they are not very well organised" - John Lister, editor, Health Campaigns Together.

The public know very little about the latest NHS restructure or its implications. So what is it, how does it fit in with the Sustainability and Transformation Plans, and why should you care?

According to national campaign group Keep Our NHS Public:

  • ACOs will help strip NHS assets, such as land and buildings
  • They will apply unprecedented cuts in spending
  • They incentivise rationing of services and denial of care
  • They increase the potential scope of NHS privatisation
  • They are likely to under-deliver required skill levels and undermine NHS terms and conditions of employment
  • They are being introduced without adequate public involvement or consultation
  • They are being implemented beyond any legal framework creating problems of governance and accountability
  • They have no robust evidence base to support their use in the context of the English NHS

Click here for Keep Our NHS Public's full briefing or read it here on our ACO and STP page.

World-title contender shows support for the Horton

Event date: 23 February 2018

Frankie Gavin, former world amateur champion and pro British welterweight title holder, is throwing his weight behind the fight to save services at the Horton General Hospital.

Frankie, shown here with his Hands Off Our Horton t-shirt thanks to boxing promoter and Horton supporter Kevin Baker, will fight for the IBO Welterweight World title on the 23rd Feb at the Genting Arena Birmingham against IBO African Champion Bethuel Ushona.

World-title contender Frankie Gavin supporting the fight to save services at the Horton General Hospital

World-title contender Frankie Gavin supporting the fight to save services at the Horton General Hospital.

Mr Justice Mostyn's decision

On the legality of the OCCG's split consultation

22 December 2017

Following the release of Mr Justice Mostyn's judgement yesterday, members of Keep the Horton General have been in close contact with their legal team at Leigh Day.

Grateful for their advice we would like to issue the following summary:-

  • We are naturally very disappointed with the result
  • We believe that the Judge was not sympathetic to our cause
  • We will be seeking further advice on our options

"We are disappointed that the Judge thought it appropriate to release his judgement a day before everyone breaks for the festive season," commented KTHG Chairman, Keith Strangwood. "Nevertheless everyone should be reassured that we are considering our position and this will be made public in early January. In the meantime we would like to wish all our followers a very happy, healthy and safe Christmas."

Mr Justice Mostyn's judgement may be found here.



15 December 2017

Thanks to pressure put on the OCCG by Charlotte Bird of Keep the Horton General at today's CPN meeting at Cherwell District Council, Chief Operating Officer Diane Hedges agreed to "extend the deadline of 17/12" for responses to the consultation document.

She gave an assurance that any comments received after this date will be accepted. The decision was praised by CDC's Ian Davies.

Rosalind Pearce, Executive Director of Healthwatch, told the meeting that she would have struggled to submit Healthwatch's response by Sunday and welcomed the extension.

The OCCG have not said for how long it will continue to accept responses, so it is still important to get your response in ASAP.

OCCG slip another one in

Another consultation - this time on GP services

Deadline: 17 December 2017 (yes - Sunday) STOP PRESS - deadline now extended, see post dated 15 Dec.

While we were concentrating on the Judicial Review challenging the OCCG's first consultation, the OCCG nearly managed to slip another one past us!

This time the changes relate to GPs and GP surgeries (known as "primary care"). You would be forgiven for thinking that such an important area deserved a long and considered consultation period - however:


We have already missed Banbury's presentation, which took place on 21 November.

We are beyond grateful to the Banbury Labour Party for bringing this to our attention. Their open letter is printed at the end of this article, and we strongly recommend it to you, irrespective of your personal politics, as the best way to gain an overview of a complex situation in a very short period of time.

Where can I get more information?

You can read about the consultation and download the documents from the OCCG's website, here.

The draft plan itself, all 44 pages of it, is here

KTHG is still reading it because we only learned of it yesterday (13 December).

What's the deadline?

You only have a few days - the "consultation" closes on 17 December. That's this Sunday!

How do I respond?

The only way we can find is to answer their online survey here.

But I have to register to do it!

Yes. It's inconvenient, likely to put some people off, and reduce the number of responses. So please, please do it, because we need as as many responses as possible. (Thank you).

We realise that digesting 44 pages of detailed, confusing and opaque information in just a few days is a next to impossible task. So to give you a start, here's the Banbury Labour party's open letter to the OCCG. We strongly recommend you read it, whatever your personal politics, because we think it will be a great help to you in your own response.

"Open letter to Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) drawing attention to inadequacy of consultation on the Locality Place Based Primary Care Plan: North Oxfordshire Locality.

Health Matters is a working group of the Banbury and Bicester Constituency Labour Party. Our remit is to inform ourselves about, and campaign for, NHS services in the area. We therefore take a keen interest in this current consultation document.

We are surprised and disappointed that the consultation, based on a lengthy, detailed and somewhat opaque document, runs for only 13 days. This means that our time to comment is up on 17th December, and we have only had since 4th December to prepare our response. The general public has barely been informed of this process, and yet the issues under discussion are utterly crucial to their wellbeing.

Does the CCG really imagine that the findings of such a consultation could tick any boxes at all, still less the boxes that are concerned with people's and businesses' health?

The document itself is interesting, and contains many good ideas, helpful summaries of the problems facing our area, visionary thoughts on the nature of primary care, and innovative solutions to deep-rooted problems. We welcome many of its ideas, and are extremely wary of others. Teasing this out in 13 days is not, however, an option - for us or for anyone else.

The philosophical underpinnings of the document can be perhaps summarised by the following three quotations, which are not prominent in the layout.

Firstly, from a table summarising what's working well currently:

1) 'Introducing innovative skill mix in practices that relieves pressure on GPs and means patients can be seen by specialist staff.'

Any patient of Horsefair, for example, who has had to wait several days to get through on the phone only to be offered an appointment in four weeks or a chat with a nurse, at the discretion of a terrified and inadequately trained receptionist, will be mystified about what might be working well here. If that is what the CCG considers an innovative skill mix, the assumptions of the consultation document are quite simply wrong.

As we have pointed out, we welcome intelligent mixing of skills in an interdisciplinary team that is well funded and professional. However, the next quotation tells a different story:

2) 'A sustainable model for primary care is dependent on releasing funding from secondary care.' (KTHG note - secondary care means services are usually based in a hospital or clinic)

We do not and cannot believe that any such funding is remotely possible. We are aware of the current plight of secondary care, particularly in this region and particularly at the OUHT and Horton.

A document founded on this assumption is not even remotely credible. The optimistic figures about GP numbers and overall staffing improvements are, then, similarly absurd.

3) 'Many patients who attend primary care appointments do not need clinical input, but have come there because there is no other obvious place to go. While the so-called traditional parish priest function of general practice has its merits, it is increasingly less appropriate for GPs to provide this function, and so in future all practices would have access to care navigation via social prescribing. Patients with important but non-clinical needs would be directed smoothly and compassionately to more appropriate services such as Citizens Advice, social services, and third sector providers such as Age UK.'

This is a stated premise of the document. Most people being consulted here would, I suspect, profoundly disagree with this. Many accept that the role of GPs is changing and must change, but the pastoral role is considered by many GPs to be an integral part of their clinical thinking and their diagnostic toolbox. Arrogantly sweeping away this personal relationship in an aside and then founding an entire new doctrine on it when people have not been fully informed is, again, not acceptable in a thirteen-day consultation.

However, probably the most important of our objections is to the organisation of this consultation, which overlaps with the news about Banbury Health Centre's difficulties and the possible solutions to it, but precedes by several weeks the opening of the consultation on that. People cannot think through the one without some information on the other.

The consultation document is riddled with inconsistencies. It talks primarily about 'sustainability,' equality of access and a 'seamless integration of services'. However, whilst this is a welcome objective, in practice there are substantial inconsistencies, which are likely to lead to further fragmentation and dilution of services. For example, the provision of mental health is initially subject to non-recurrent funding, which yet again places mental health in an inferior position to general health. Not to mention it contradicts the idea of sustainable provision.

Also, there is no mention of child and adolescent mental health at all, which is already causing a great deal of strain on primary health care. The idea of 'social prescribing' (does the public even know what this is?) to third/voluntary sector agencies could place a great deal of strain on them and there is no evidence of any impact assessment on these services. Furthermore, a social prescription may carry a higher expectation from the client, thus potentially changing the nature of the relationship between the client and the voluntary agency.

Finally, the document makes no mention of Accountable Care Organisations or how the plans here might dovetail with those. The consultation is taking place in a policy vacuum.

We are therefore saddened that a consultation containing many interesting ideas which could actually solve problems and improve people's lives is being conducted at a time when no funding will be available, secondary care is in collapse and organisational change is yet again on the map. And all in thirteen days.

Yours etc (Banbury Labour Party)

Judgment reserved in Horton General Hospital judicial review

OCCG ordered to take no further steps or decisions until judgment is handed down

8 December 2017

The following article is reproduced from Landmark Chambers' website.
Click here for the original article.

A judicial review challenge to Oxfordshire CCG's decision to reconfigure services at the Horton General Hospital was heard by Mr Justice Mostyn on 6 and 7 December 2017. The challenge was brought by a group of District Councils and campaign group Keep the Horton General.

The proposed reconfiguration included the removal of obstetric services, 46 bed closures and the removal of level 3 critical care.

It was argued that the consultation was unlawful for numerous reasons, including the fact it was split into two phases where many issues dealt with in Phase 2 were interlinked with Phase 1 issues. In addition, the CCG failed to consult on the new bed closure test which was announced by Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, on 3 March 2017.

Judgment was reserved, and Mostyn J ordered that the CCG do not take further steps in relation to the consultation or decision until judgment is handed down.

See BBC coverage of the case here, and coverage in the local press here and here.

Samantha Broadfoot QC and Leon Glenister acted for Keep the Horton General.


Please support if you can

Posted: 10 December 2017

There are developments at national level too.

A group of very senior and respected doctors and campaigners is seeking a judicial review to stop Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt and NHS England from introducing new commercial, non-NHS bodies to run health and social services without proper public consultation and without full Parliamentary scrutiny.

These non-NHS bodies, which can include private companies, would be called "Accountable Care Organisations" (ACOs). They will decide what care is free, and what has to be paid for

Such commercial ACOs would fundamentally change the NHS and many could profit from a radical reorganisation of health and social services.

Click here to find out more - please support their campaign if you are able to.

Image - crowdfunder to halt Account Care Organisations


Contact us for a seat

Event date: Thursday 7 December 2017

On 6 and 7 December KTHG will be attending the hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice into the legality of the OCCG's first consultation.

Everyone is welcome aboard the coach leaving Banbury at 06.45 from the Whately Hall hotel (suggested donation £10).

Whilst the time of departure from London is unknown at present (following the hearing) we would love to hear from you if you would like to join us on this epic journey.

Please contact Val Ingram at val.ingram@hotmail.co.uk to book your seat.


Coach will be available for supporters

13 November 2017

We are delighted that our campaign to save services at the Horton General is being noticed up and down the country.

The Consultation Institute recently reported 'Legal challenges such as the current case involving Horton Hospital in Banbury oblige STPs everywhere to be ultra-cautious and delay consultations until they have prepared properly.' "Is BREXIT changing the practice of public consultations?" (The Consultation Institute, 17 October 2017).

Our case, brought by the local councils and in which we are an 'interested party', will be heard on Wednesday 6 and Thursday 7 December.

The hearing will centre on the legality of the Oxford Clinical Commissioning Group's (CCG) consultation concerning the downgrade of Horton General. Due to the importance of the ruling and the amount of interest in the Judge's verdict, KTHG is organising a coach to convey supporters and members of the press to London.

KTHG Chairman, Keith Strangwood urges anyone who has an interest in being part of this historic event to contact us as soon as possible to guarantee themselves a place on the coach. "As everyone in the area is aware, the future of our Horton General Hospital is paramount. We would like to ensure that our case receives maximum publicity both locally and nationally," he said.


Banbury Guardian, 23 October 2017

Oxfordshire health bosses have refused to divulge how Banbury area GPs voted over the permanent closure of the Horton's consultant-led maternity unit.

The Banbury Guardian asked Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG), under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, for a full breakdown of how surgeries voted in an email 'referendum' on making the temporary removal of obstetrics permanent.

Refusing, the CCG said: "OCCG recognises there is a public interest in the disclosure of information which facilitates the accountability and transparency of public bodies for decisions taken by them. However, there is also a public interest in the CCG being able to have free and frank exchange of views for the purpose of deliberation."

The CCG also refused to provide details of the timing of the vote to determine whether the views of the three last remaining GPs at Banbury's Horsefair Surgery were sought before they left in June.

The three came out vehemently against the downgrade in a letter to the CCG in November. Horsefair was taken over by a private management company. Practices had one vote for every 5,000 patients. Votes were 'weighted' but that calculation is unexplained.

The Banbury Guardian has requested an internal review which should be completed within 20 days, or at most, 40 days. The CCG has said it will take 40 days and 'no later than' December 5 - the day before the start of a full Judicial Review hearing into the lawfulness of the OCCG's public consultation into Phase One of the Oxfordshire Transformation Plan seeking downgrade of maternity, permanent loss of 45 beds and reduction of intensive care at the Horton.

In August, the CCG board formally voted to make the temporary removal of consultant-led maternity permanent, after taking into account a very narrow majority of GPs in favour of the move. The CCG said results were 59 per cent in favour. But the vote did not include Banburyshire GP surgeries in south Northants and south Warks whose patients use the Horton.

After the board decision, Sibford GP Dr Emma Haskew said: "The vote was taken just after the final three GPs from Horsefair left (representing 18,000 patients) which I feel is grossly unfair. Their vote in favour of the Horton... would have swung it to a majority against the proposals. I think we should know how individual practices voted and assume this will be public information. The GPs (45) all signed a letter against the maternity changes just a year ago."

The CCG refusal said disclosure would 'inhibit the ability of the OCCG and member practices to express themselves openly, honestly and completely as part of the process of deliberation'. "It would also inhibit free and frank discussions in the future, with the loss of frankness and candour damaging the quality of deliberation and could impact on participation in future voting processes and thus lead to poorer decision making," it added.

"Limited involvement by member practices and GPs in making key decisions is not in the public interest. Undermining the confidential nature of the voting process would deter future involvement. Undermining democratic processes is not in the public interest. Releasing the requested information would impact on OCCG quality of commissioning of services through honest deliberation and could potentially impact decisions being made that are not in the wider public interest." (KTHG emphasis)

Read the original article on the Banbury Guardian's website, here.


17 October 2017

"The chief executive and clinical lead at CCG (are) leaving by the end of the year. I'm delighted as quite frankly they are not up to it."
Victoria Prentis, 17 October 2017

Banbury MP Victoria Prentis slammed Oxfordshire health chiefs over the Horton downgrade in a debate on healthcare in the county at the Houses of Parliament this morning (Tuesday, October 17).Mrs Prentis was joined by MPs from Oxfordshire and surrounding constituencies in the Westminster Hall debate, called by West Oxfordshire MP Robert Courts.

Opening the session, Mr Courts raised concerns about GP and maternity services, stroke care and the Oxfordshire Clincal Commissioning Group's (OCCG) recent consultation. His points were echoed by neighbouring MPs, including Ed Vaizey (Wantage), Layla Moran (Oxford West and Abingdon), John Howell (Henley) and Nadhim Zahawi (Stratford on Avon).

Victoria highlighted issues relating to population growth, safety and communication. She emphasised problems with the processes followed by health chiefs in the county, particularly in relation to the split nature of the consultation and a lack of real engagement with local people.

Towards the end of her speech, Victoria outlined the need for 'reasoned and evidence based conversations about the future', expressing the determination felt locally to protect vital acute services in north Oxfordshire. After the debate, she said: "I am very pleased that my neighbour and fellow local MP, Rob Courts, secured such an important debate in Westminster this morning.

"It is clear that we are united in our frustration with local health providers. The clinical commissioning group must engage and consult local people properly, and across county boundaries, to enable us to move forward safely. The fight for acute services and local health care continues."

Mrs Prentis said the current devolution of health services was not working during the Westminster Hall debate and she was glad the two top members of the OCCG were leaving. "If this is devolution, it is not working," she said. "The chief executive and clinical lead at CCG (are) leaving by the end of the year. I'm delighted as quite frankly they are not up to it."

Mrs Prentis said they were 'hell bent' on continuing their split consultation changes that result in Horton downgrading despite the current judicial review of the lawfulness of Phase One consultation.

"It is a poisoned chalice for whoever inherits the CCG job," she said. "Our district council tops the leaderboard for housebuilding. In under ten years (after the last battle for the Horton), we find ourselves with no obstetrics or special care baby unit; gone in the blink of the eye without any real attempt to address recruitment issues."

In the debate, Mrs Prentis lamented the decision to remove the Horton's training accreditation for middle grade maternity doctors which had been the 'straw that broke the camel's back' for recruitment resulting in removal of the obstetric unit.

"We remain deeply unhappy and frightened, with patients travelling up to two hours in the final stages of labour and emergency gynae operations taking place in a portacabin in the JR car park," she said.

"A recent decision to remove accreditation from certain grades of anaesthetists puts all the acute services at the Horton General Hospital at risk. I had to tell them this had happened. The Dean had not communicated this to the Trust or CCG.

"The Oxford University Hospitals Trust tells the CCG what to do. When they do not agree, stalemate. For example the Trust, clinicians and everyone locally know they can't possibly shut A&E but the CCG are determined to press ahead with a (Phase Two) consultation which suggests just that."

"In 2008, local GPs were pivotal in the fight to save the Horton. Poor leadership and an ever-increasing workload has prevented them being the vocal force they once were. I have found allies in NHS Improvement, who have been investigating the Trust, and the Care Quality Commission - who can prosecute."

Mrs Prentis, who was reported this week saying the CCG should be closed down, said: "Our latest consultation report described 'universal concerns' of over 10,000 people who responded. "Everyone locally feels as I do, but at our last meeting the Trust chief executive branded my fears as 'irrational'. Rather than try and go some way to allaying fears, I am simply ignored.

"They do not communicate with elected representatives or the public. It is up to us to organise public meetings. NHS Improvement was appalled when I showed them the pile of unanswered letters. Colleagues beyond the county boundary whose constituents use the Horton are also completely overlooked."

Mr Courts added: "Healthcare is the number one issue of concern locally and that is why it has been my priority since being elected. Nothing is more important than the health of you and your loved ones. Services must be up to scratch to cater for everyone in West Oxfordshire - now and in future as this area develops."

Read the original article on the Banbury Guardian's website, here.

KTHG comment

While warmly welcoming the MPs' condemnation of the CCG in the commons, KTHG chairman Keith Strangwood commented: "Our MPs must, however, recognise that services are being cut due to the government's deliberate and destructive underfunding of the NHS nationwide. If our MPs really want to see safe acute services provided locally, as they should be, then it is time they started challenging not just the CCG, but also their own ministers' policies on the NHS."


11 October 2017

We have been advised that someone on our distribution list has received a suspicious email, which appears to come from Keep the Horton General's email account, although we did not send it.

The email invites the recipient to open a link to a Dropbox document. It is likely that following the link and opening the document would expose the recipient to a either a virus or a phishing attempt.

Please do not open any such email, should you receive one.

As a matter of safe online practice, we strongly recommend that you have virus checking software active and up to date on your computer at all times.


Banbury Guardian, 5 October 2017

Campaigners have accused health chiefs of subjecting Banburyshire patients to 'Russian roulette' with risky transfers to Oxford, reports the Banbury Guardian, 5 October 2017.

The Keep the Horton General Campaign (KTHG) made the accusation after a woman in labour, being transferred from the Horton to Oxford, was held up when an ambulance tyre burst on the A34. The rush hour traffic was halted while a relief ambulance was summoned and the woman was moved from one vehicle to the other.

"It's a classic case of Russian roulette in transferring women with so-called 'low risk' births at the Horton midwife unit to Oxford when things go wrong, as they inevitably do sometimes," said KTHG chairman Keith Strangwood. "It is a perfect example of what we have predicted all along - that births go wrong without warning; that they can happen during rush hour and when traffic cannot get to the JR quickly and then something else happens on top to hold the whole process up still further.

"What happens in the snow, thick fog or if an accident has blocked the road? The blunt fact is that the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) and Oxford University Hospitals Trust (OUHT) are turning their backs on the people of Banburyshire. They're doing it because of financial cuts and the OCCG should be telling NHS England that it is not safe to be transferring mothers so far."

The temporary closure of the Horton's consultant led unit took place, with closure of 45 medical beds, last October. A dedicated ambulance for emergency transfers, hired privately at a reported cost of £1m a year, has been kept outside the midwife-only unit that replaced the obstetric service.

South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) gave the following timeline for the incident:

  • 8.17am - emergency call received from Horton Maternity Unit.
  • 8.18am - dedicated transfer ambulance (a private ambulance contracted for OUHT via SCAS) is dispatched.
  • 9.02am - ambulance reports a tyre blow out in lane two of the A34 and requests replacement to complete transfer.
  • 9.03am - replacement ambulance dispatched by SCAS.
  • 9.17am - replacement ambulance and Thames Valley Police arrive at scene.
  • 9.40am - patient arrives at John Radcliffe Hospital.

One unconfirmed report said the maternity department chiefs were so concerned about the outcome, the top consultant met the ambulance at the door.

Richard McDonald, head of operations (Oxfordshire) at SCAS, said: "On September 25, our ambulance based at the Horton General Hospital suffered a tyre blow out on the A34 whilst transferring a maternity patient to the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford.

"The crew promptly notified our control room and a second ambulance was immediately dispatched to the scene. With the aid of Thames Valley Police, the patient was safely transferred from the first ambulance in lane two of the A34 to the second ambulance, which then completed the patient transfer.

"The delivery at the JR was completed without issue and the mother reported as fine. I would like to congratulate the family on their new arrival and thank staff in our control room, as well as our staff and police officers at the scene for acting so promptly and professionally to the unexpected interruption during the transfer and helping ensure it was completed safely."

OUHT declined to make a comment on the incident.

Read the original article on the Banbury Guardian's website, here.


1 October 2017

We are delighted to report that KTHG's chairman, Keith Strangwood, has been elected to the Oxford University Hospitals Trust's Council of Governors following the recent by-election for the post in the Cherwell constituency.

The Council provides an opportunity to influence the strategic direction of the trust. We hope that Mr Strangwood's presence will ensure that the trust can no longer ignore the needs of the Banburyshire population.

The appointment is for three years, and commenced on 1 October 2017.


NHS review body 'ready to advise' on Horton hospital's permanent downgrading

Banbury Guardian, 28 September 2017

The NHS review body says it 'stands ready' to scrutinise the permanent downgrading of the Horton General Hospital's maternity unit.

In an assessment released on Tuesday, the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) announced it does not see the value of a full review into last October's temporary closure, seven months after the downgrade was referred. That first referral has effectively been nullified by a decision by Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) in August to permanently close the consultant-led unit at the Banbury hospital, after a new referral was made by elected councillors of the Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (JHOSC).

IRP chairman Lord Ribeiro said in his assessment: "Subsequent events have now overtaken the substance of this referral. The governing body of the clinical commissioning group decided on August 10, 2017, to remove obstetric care from the Horton and replace it with a permanent midwife-led unit.

"The panel understands from press reports that the JHOSC has declared its intention to refer that decision to the Secretary of State. When that referral materialises, the IRP stands ready to offer advice if requested."

This time last year, OCCG temporarily closed the consultant-led unit at the Banbury hospital as it was deemed unsafe because of a lack of doctors. This was referred to the Secretary of State by the JHOSC in a bid to reverse the decision.

Lord Ribeiro said he understood the initial, temporary downgrade of the consultant-led maternity ward was in the interest of patient safety, but the decision did not need to be revisited again as a decision to permanently close the full obstetric service has since been made.

The OCCG's decision in August to permanently close the consultant-led unit and create a midwife-only ward was automatically referred to the government by JHOSC as agreed in an emergency meeting three days before.

So the first referral has been superseded by the second one.

Press and media reports since Tuesday have revealed some confusion that his assessment meant the end of the road for the campaign to reinstate full maternity in Banbury.

Keep the Horton General is focusing on the judicial review into the OCCG's processes of downgrading the Horton, which is scheduled for December 6, 7 and 8, and was not surprised by the IRP's ruling.

Chairman Keith Strangwood said: "We're not bothered, we expected it and we are much more interested in the next step which is the hearing in December. When Mr Justice Fraser passed down his summary, he described this as so serious that he expedited it so we jumped the queue because of its importance. Now if Mr Justice Fraser thinks this is so important, we have to hope that the person hearing the case in December thinks the same. If they decide in our favour then that really puts the cat amongst the pigeons as far as the OCCG is concerned."

In 2008, the IRP ruled that the then Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals Trust (now Oxford University Hospitals Trust) should not downgrade the Horton, including its consultant-led maternity unit, because Oxford was too far to transfer women in delivery, or seriously sick and injured patients. Such transfers were described as 'unsafe and inhumane'.

JHOSC chairman and Deddington county councillor Arash Fatemain has been contacted for comment.

Read the original article on the Banbury Guardian's website here.


Legal team needs "dossier of experiences" - contact us to share your story

14 September 2017

Keep the Horton General has welcomed last week's ruling by Mr Justice Fraser that Cherwell, South Northants, Stratford on Avon and Banbury town councils - and KTHG - should be given a full hearing into the way public consultation on downgrading various Horton services was run this spring.

Keith Strangwood, chairman of KTHG, says the group will continue fundraising with renewed vigour and continue to collect evidence to help the legal challenge which is expected to take place over two days in late November or early-mid December.

"Last Tuesday's result has shown that the courts in our land will work for the people and can hold bodies to account - that clinical commissioning groups cannot run roughshod over the rules," he said. "It is clear from the hearing result that there is a case to answer. KTHG is busy compiling further documented evidence and looks forward to the full hearing later this year," he added.

KTHG and all those fighting the case hope the judge agrees with their submission that there are serious legal flaws in the consultation, that the consultation must be quashed and that the August 10 decision for permanent downgrade of maternity, intensive care, and closure of 45 Horton beds, taken by Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group on the back of it, must also be quashed.

Such a ruling would mean new public involvement would have to take place and a new decision taken. Mr Strangwood said: "This step closer is a landmark case other groups can follow and hopefully be a blow to the government's plans and cuts in the name of transformation."

Charlotte Bird, KTHG press officer, said: "We've been asked by our legal team to compile a dossier of people's experiences in relation to the removal of consultant led maternity and bed closures. Please contact keepthehortongeneral@hotmail.co.uk in order to contribute."


We're going - want to join us?

Saturday 4th November 2017, Hammersmith

Health Campaigns Together are running a conference / workshop on Saturday 4 November to update and share experience we can all use in the fight to defend our NHS.

If you want to join us at the conference, and get more involved with Keep The Horton General's campaign at local and national levels, please contact us at keepthehortongeneral@hotmail.co.uk .

Tickets can be booked at Eventbrite - "NHS in crisis - fighting back to win"

Health Campaigns Together poster Nov 2017 poster


Campaigns link up across the country

12 September 2017

KTHG campigners and Banbury Guardian health reporter Roseanne Edwards have been contacted by representatives from other campaigns, following last week's landmark step forward.

"This is a major legal victory which will have ramifications throughout England," said Phillip Wearne of Save our Hospital Services (SOHS) North Devon. "Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) throughout the country are already nervous about consulting on health service "reconfigurations" that are nothing but cuts to and rationing of essential services. CCGs are already terrified of their own populations. Now they will fear facing judges too. Congratulations to the people of Banbury and North Oxfordshire. You have done all of us a service almost as vital as those you have campaigned to retain and defend at the Horton General."

Dr Louise Irvine, who challenged Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt twice in the courts - and won - against downgrading of A&E at Lewisham, said: "The Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign sends a warm message of support to the Keep the Horton General campaigners and welcomes the good news that a judge has agreed to allow a full hearing.

"More and more hospitals, maternities and other health services are under threat. That is why campaigns like KTHG's are so important and why the outcome of this pre-hearing is so encouraging."

Pauline Amos, of Support the NHS Halstead, said: "With other groups in Essex, we successfully fought the downgrading of two A&Es - in Chelmsford and Southend. The CCG is currently reviewing the reconfiguration plans in light of our campaigns. We're building in strength and confidence across England, showing the government people will not accept their plans to destroy our NHS. We wish Banbury further success at the full hearing."

Ozma Hafiz, of Save Wycombe Hospital, said: "It's great news that common sense has prevailed in the Horton case and we wish it every success. Having lost our consultant-led maternity and A&E, the people of Wycombe and surrounds are well aware of the difficulties faced when vital services are stripped away. We continue to campaign for a return of services to our growing town and are currently working with Leigh Day to return much needed beds to Marlow and Thame community hospitals."

Dr David Wrigley, Lancashire GP, BMA Council and GP Committee member, co-author of 'NHS for Sale' and chair of Doctors in Unite, said: "Quite often the naysayers will say 'what's the point in local campaigns - nothing ever happens to make a difference'. "Banbury has proven it's worth fighting on a local level."

Steven Carne, editor of the blog 999Call for the NHS, reported the Horton news at a packed 'Defend our NHS' meeting in Birkenhead last week. "People were very interested because the wonderful Women's Hospital in Liverpool is under threat," he said.

Jenny Shepherd, of the Calderdale and Kirklees campaign, which is fighting to save its district hospital services, said: "We are buoyed up by the success of the Horton Judicial Review appeal. We want to stop these cuts and privatisation-driven plans and, through the NHS Reinstatement Bill, restore the NHS to full public ownership, management and provision, with adequate funding, run in accordance with its founding principles of universal access to comprehensive services, free at the point of clinical need."

Louise Peace, of Hands Off HRI Huddersfield, said: "This gives us hope in Huddersfield. Well done for all your hard work and congratulations on this result. Best of luck with the next stage."

And Katie Scott, of Save Rothbury Hospital in Northumberland, said: "Huge congratulations from all of us at Save Rothbury Hospital."

The impact was reported in the Banbury Guardian on 14 September:

NHS campaigners up and down the country have been inspired by the team fighting to keep services at the Horton General Hospital in Banbury after a key success last week, writes Roseanne Edwards in the Banbury Guardian.

Fighting4Life Lincolnshire campaigners in London

Fighting4Life Lincolnshire campaigners in London

A deputy High Court judge said opponents of the Horton Hospital's downgrading should be allowed a full hearing into the lawfulness of the public consultation held before last month's decision to permanently close 45 beds and remove consultant-led maternity.

Sarah Stock, of Fighting4Life Lincolnshire, explains the importance of the court ruling to other campaigners fighting to save services at their district hospitals.

"The Horton campaign is important to every county. Lincolnshire is one among many that has lost the same services as the Horton," she said. "Each county is told provision, downgrading and closure of services are a 'local issue', but are seemingly being carried out to the exact same format across the country, so not a 'local issue' at all but a national directive.

"Campaign groups across the country have been joining forces and finding their campaigns are not just similar but some are identical, down to the wording of the reasons and poor excuses behind the closures. Lack of credible evidence and manipulated statistics behind the decisions appear common place and serve to carry out the national directive to further dismantle the NHS.

"Campaigners, many knowledgeable NHS medical consultants, registrars, GPs and nurses are deemed 'scaremongerers' in an attempt to diffuse the storm which is brewing.

"It is hugely political that the NHS is being dismantled. The NHS is needed. Irrespective of political affiliation, we all bleed.

"It is as simple as informing the government, any government, that we the people, will not accept the cuts being made unnecessarily to the detriment of our lives. What was once the first major trauma centre here in the Trent region is now a very limited hospital with time-restricted access to services. The distances to other hospitals are unacceptable.

"The threat of further closure and dismantling of services through Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (sic) creates further concern. The fight will continue to maintain and reinstate service provision."

Read the original article on the Banbury Guardian's website, here.


"38 Degrees" petition needs your signature

11 September 2017

The plans that are destroying our health services in Banburyshire are being replicated all over the country.

We urge you to sign this petition, circulated by the campaign group 38 Degrees. It calls on the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, to call a halt to the Sustainability and Transformation Plans that will cause the destruction of the NHS as we know it.

Link to the 38 Degrees petition to halt STPs - "the biggest attack on the NHS you've never heard of"

You'll miss it when it's gone. Please sign.


Report dated 7 September 2017 on the events of 5 September 2017

Banbury has won an important round in the battle to save services at the Horton.

A deputy High Court judge said opponents of the hospital's downgrading should be allowed a full hearing into the lawfulness of the public consultation held before last month's decision to permanently close 45 beds and remove consultant-led maternity.

Campaigners (represented by Leigh Day and Landmark chambers, thanks to Banbury fundraising) hope that the hearing - part of a Judicial Review of the lawfulness of public consultation - might ultimately lead to the reinstatement of some acute services in Banbury.

Keith Strangwood, chairman of Keep the Horton General (KTHG) said Tuesday's decision was testament to team working between Cherwell, Stratford and South Northants councils, Banbury Town Council and KTHG."The tide is turning. We have won this battle but not the war which has been waged against the Horton for over 20 years.

"We hope, if the full hearing goes in our favour, the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) will be asked to go back to square one and consult on these horrendous downgrading plans in a single exercise.

"That will be a mirror image of the fight in 2007-8 and they lost that because taking acute services to Oxford is too far for patient safety."

Mr Justice Fraser, at the Royal Courts of Justice on Tuesday, said the hearing should be given priority for an early date, before the end of the year, because of the seriousness of the case. It would also take place before the OCCG presents its controversial second phase of the Oxfordshire Transformation Plan which involves planned changes to A&E and the 24-hour children's ward.

The councils' and KTHG's legal teams expressed serious concerns about the consultation. The judge agreed it was arguable that the consultation process was flawed and it must go forward to a full hearing quickly. The move allows the councils and KTHG to make a formal challenge to the consultation.

The councils and KTHG argued that the consultation was unlawful and unfair because it split phase one, dealing with maternity and bed closures from others, dealing with A&E and paediatrics - that the split timing is illogical and would heavily influence the outcome of phase two which has not started.

If it is found the consultation in phase one was defective and should be run again, it makes sense to be done before phase two.

Having the case expedited moves the Horton case up the queue, allowing it to be heard within months rather than up to a year in the busy administrative courts.


5 September 2017

This photo shows representatives from the KTHG campaign group and the Banbury Guardian with the legal team outside the Royal Courts of Justice on 5 September 2017. Today's events were a step forward for the campaign; full report to follow once approved by legal team.

KTHG and Banbury Guardian representatives at the Royal Courts of Justice, 5 September 2017


5 September 2017

Following a decision by Judge Allen in the High Court of Justice Queen's Bench Division Administrative Court on 24 July when he refused permission for a full hearing, Cherwell District Council (CDC) has requested a reconsideration of this refusal at a pre-hearing. This enables a different judge to decide whether the original legal submissions were arguable and therefore warrant a full hearing.

Representatives of Keep the Horton General (KTHG) will attend the pre-hearing on Tuesday 5 September, at which their barrister will make submissions in support of a full-hearing. KTHG are acting through its chairman, Keith Strangwood, as 'an interested party' in the challenge mounted by CDC/South Northants/Stratford District/Banbury Town Councils.

If permission is granted, a full-hearing will be listed for another date. The High Court will then rule on the legality of the Oxford Clinical Commissioning Group's (CCG) consultation concerning the downgrade of Horton General.

KTHG is represented by law firm Leigh Day, who had a successful result in the Lewisham Hospital v Jeremy Hunt case in October 2013 (at the Court of Appeal.)

Their solicitor, Rowan Smith, of Leigh Day said: "The campaign has been fighting to save the Horton General for nearly 20 years, demonstrating that this is an incredibly important local issue. Our clients believe that there were a number of substantial flaws present in the CCG's consultation process and we hope that the High Court will take these into consideration when hearing this case."


Huffington Post

29 August 2017

Tory MPs have been dubbed "wildly hypocritical" over NHS cuts after it emerged that Cabinet minister Andrea Leadsom is lobbying Jeremy Hunt over the downgrade of her hospital, reports the Huffington Post, 29 August 2017.

Leadsom, the Leader of the Commons, has written to the Health Secretary (KTHG edit - we note he was in fact copied in to a letter to the chief exec of the OCCG) to urge him to review a decision to axe a consultant-led maternity unit at Horton General Hospital in Banbury, Oxfordshire.

A local clinical commissioning group decided this month to make permanent a downgrade to a midwife-led unit, prompting angry warnings from campaigners that mothers with high risk births face 90-minute journeys to the nearest hospital in Oxford.

An NHS scrutiny committee has formally referred the case to Hunt to review the decision and Leadsom is now among a clutch of local Tory MPs who have weighed in to speak up for their constituents.

Leadsom's nearby Northamptonshire constituency will be hit hard by the change and she has written to local health chiefs - and copied in Cabinet colleague Hunt - to warn against any decision being made without a review by the Department of Health.

In her letter, Leadsom points out that she is Leader of the Commons and warns that "it would be most improper" for the local NHS to go ahead until Hunt has considered the plan - and until a judicial review launched by nearby councils was resolved.

A spokesman for Leadsom insisted that she was representing her constituents and that Hunt had been copied in to the letter 'for information'.

Oxfordshire NHS chiefs claim that they need to fill a £200m shortfall in their finances by 2021 and local clinicians say the downgrade was prompted by a "staffing crisis" and shortage of obstetricians.

Labour has seized on the row, declaring that Tory MPs and ministers are happy for other NHS cuts to go ahead, as long as they are 'not in my backyard'.

And the British Medical Association has said that the case shows the "dire" state of the NHS and highlights severe staff shortages.

Shadow Health minister Justin Madders told HuffPost UK: "Hospital services across the country are at risk because of Tory underfunding so it beggars belief that Tory MPs are now pleading for special treatment for their own area.

"It is wildly hypocritical for the Tories to back service closures elsewhere but then complain when changes are made in their own back yard.

"At the election Labour promised to halt hospital closures while giving the NHS the support needed to deliver world class care in every part of the country. If Andrea Leadsom wants to save her local hospital then she ought to back Labour's plan to give the NHS the money it needs."

Read the orginal article on the Huffington Post's website, here.


25 August 2017

The people of Banbury came together on Friday 25th August for a fundraising benefit gig by the Banbury based band, Under the Covers. Chris Baxter, another friend of the campaign, was DJ for the evening.

Big thanks to General Foods Sports & Social Club who donated the room, all those who gave raffle prizes, the band & DJ for their performances, the volunteers for their time and energy and, last but not least, the Banburyshire folk who turned out in their droves. We raised an incredible £1794!

Our thanks to all who made this event a success; it was a joy to be a part of something so special.

Chris has also been kind enough to invite us to raise funds for the campaign at NBWA wrestling promotions, dates to be advised.

Kev Preedy and Ken Hopkins (organisers)

Fundraisers and Under the Covers, 25 August 2017


For the permanent record

OCCG statement is un-dated but relates to the events of 17 August 2017, and was brought to KTHG's attention on 21 August 2017

Here is the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group's statement per their website.

Decisions announced on changes to Oxfordshire healthcare services

Leaders of Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) have made decisions on proposed changes to some healthcare services in the county.

An extraordinary board meeting of OCCG today (Thursday 10 August 2017) has given the go-ahead to essential changes which will ensure safety, quality and better outcomes for patients. The changes have been made following the Big Health and Care Consultation, which took place at the beginning of 2017 as part of the Oxfordshire Transformation Programme.

After careful deliberation and taking into account the preferences and views of a wide variety of patients, public, partners and stakeholders, OCCG has now accepted five recommendations to bring about changes to:

Critical Care There will now be a single Level 3 Critical Care Unit (CCU), aka intensive care, for the sickest patients in Oxfordshire (and some neighbouring areas) at the Oxford University Hospital (OUH) Oxford sites. The CCU at Horton General Hospital in Banbury will become a Level 2 centre for less seriously ill patients - those, for example, who have single organ failure, need closer observation after being in intensive care and for post-operative care. The Horton CCU will work closely with the main centre in Oxford.

Acute stroke services All Oxfordshire patients (and those from some neighbouring areas) who are suspected of having suffered a stroke will go directly to the Hyper Acute Stroke Unit (HASU) at the John Radcliffe Hospital (JRH) in Oxford for the best available treatments, such as surgical removal of clots and clot busting drugs. Patients across Oxfordshire will be supported by the roll-out of countywide early supported discharge to improve outcomes and rehabilitation, either at home or in other community settings.

Changes to Acute Bed Numbers The closure of some acute beds across the OUH sites (including the Horton General) is now permanent. Beds were temporarily closed in November 2015 as part of the 'Rebalancing the System' project to tackle the issue of patients stranded in hospital when they no longer need to be there (delayed transfers of care). This allowed funding to be invested in other services to support frail and vulnerable people in their own homes or care homes. The implementation of these closures will now be staged: • 110 beds are already closed and will remain closed so investment in alternative services can be made permanent. • An additional 36 beds will only be permanently closed when the system has made significant progress in reducing the numbers of delayed transfers of care. Any further planned closures will need to be reviewed by Thames Valley Clinical Senate and assured by NHS England.

Planned care services at the Horton General Hospital The NHS in Oxfordshire has committed to the development of new 21st century diagnostic and outpatient departments at the Horton General Hospital in Banbury; an advanced pre-operative assessment unit; and improvements to the planned operations service at the Horton General. These changes will allow more patients to be treated closer to where they live in North Oxfordshire, South Northamptonshire and South Warwickshire. They will allow up to 90,000 more outpatients appointments, diagnostic tests and operations to be provided at the Horton.

Maternity Services The Board accepted the recommendations for a single specialist obstetric unit for Oxfordshire (and its neighbouring areas) at the John Radcliffe Hospital and a permanent Midwife Led Unit (MLU) at the Horton General Hospital in Banbury.

Dr Joe McManners, clinical chair of OCCG, said: "The changes we have approved today are about making services safe and ensuring people across the county and beyond get the best available treatments, and access to services as quickly as possible.

"These were difficult decisions to make and we understand the strength of feeling among local people, especially those who live in the north of the county. But we believe these decisions will ensure safe and sustainable patient care for now and the future . We thank everyone in Oxfordshire and beyond who took part the consultation, sharing their views and opinions with us. We also appreciate the participation of campaign groups who work hard on behalf of their local communities.

"We will now work with our health and social care partners to ensure the recommendations we have approved are carried out in the best interests of patients. The Board also agreed to maintain oversight of the implementation of these changes."

You can read the article on the OCCG's website, here, or view this pdf preserved for the permanent record here.


And shoots down Hunt's response

20 August 2017

Stephen Hawking has defended the NHS, saying he wouldn't be here without it, reports the BBC. In a speech critical of government policy and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, he said he is worried about the future of the NHS. The Cambridge University scientist accused Mr Hunt of "cherry-picking" evidence to support his policies.

Stephen Hawking defends the NHS, August 2017

Video: Stephen Hawking - "I wouldn't be here without the NHS" - August 2017

Writing in the Telegraph, on 19 August, Hunt responded "Stephen Hawking is my hero, but there is no evidence to support his claims about the NHS under the Conservatives". He later claimed "For the record neither I nor the government do want to move towards an insurance-based system."

You can read Hunt's statement in full on the Telegraph's website here, or view this pdf preserved for the permanent record here.

Professor Hawking responded in the Guardian, saying "Jeremy Hunt can attack me all he wants - but he is wrong to say the NHS is working. The NHS is facing severe crises, from staffing to funding. Hunt misquoting me and misrepresenting research doesn't help". In the article, he explained that:

  • Mr Hunt misrepresented scientific research in order to claim that poorer hospital care and staffing at weekends cause excess deaths
  • Mr Hunt's claim of record NHS funding is a distraction as it does not show that funding is adequate
  • all the evidence shows a move towards a US-style, privatised, health insurance system

You can read Professor Hawking's statement in full on the Guardian's website here, or view this pdf preserved for the permanent record here.

On twitter, commentators quoted Hunt from Direct Democracy, the book he co-authored in 2005; "Our ambition should be to break down the barriers between private and public provision, in effect denationalising the provision of health care in Britain"

Our ambition should be to break down the barriers between private and public provision, in effect denationalising the provision of health care in Britain - Jeremy Hunt, Direct Democracy, 2005


Local GPs angry that voting process did not reflect their opinion

Banbury Guardian, 17 August 2017

Anger has broken out following the controversial decision to permanently close full-maternity services at Horton.reports the Banbury Guardian, 17 August 2017

Some GPs have joined campaigners, MPs and councillors to vent their fury.

Campaigners this week accused Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) of "micro-managing the Horton to death."

And a local GP has expressed exasperation over the way in which OCCG last week voted to push through downgrading of the maternity services. Dr Emma Haskew of Sibford Surgery has come out strongly against loss of acute services at the Horton along with many other GPs in practices not only in the North Oxfordshire Locality Group (NOLG) but also in villages such as Tysoe, Shipston, Byfield, Brackley and Kineton whose patients use the Horton.

Although these Banburyshire practices feed into the Horton and support its survival, their GPs were not given a vote in the final representations to the OCCG Board.

The downgrade decisions taken last Thursday include permanent removal of the consultant-led maternity department leaving a midwife-only unit for a small fraction of Banburyshire's deliveries.

Locality clinical director Dr Paul Park told the board there had been exhaustive and detailed discussions among GPs in NOLG. But Dr Haskew said she felt the talks were only ever a 'tick box' exercise and that the decision was taken months ago.

"Although some local GPs are still voicing opposition to the proposals I think most are worn down by the huge problems in general practice and feel they are trying to fight the inevitable," she said. "The powers-that-be in Oxford have made this decision with little regard to local health needs of local people."

Dr Park had one of 13 votes at last Thursday's OCCG Board meeting, to be used on behalf of local GPs, and he voted according to results recorded through an email vote, which was weighted to give one vote for each 5,000 patients, for example, giving large practices of 15,000 patients three votes.

In his evidence he said that currently, only 49 per cent of NOLG GPs were against the proposals, which meant a majority in favour of the permanent closure proposal, yet only 12 months ago, all local surgeries signed a letter to OCCG voicing their unequivocal opposition to the move.

Some Banburyshire GPs have highlighted the fact that the voting process was conducted only five weeks after the last three remaining, long standing doctors at Horsefair Surgery (18,000 patients) left. They say if these three highly Horton-supportive GPs had voted, a majority in opposition to downgrading of maternity would have been almost certain and this would changed the complexion of the OCCG's resolution.

The vehement views of GPs against downgrading of the Horton in 2007 were a powerful factor in the Independent Reconfiguration Panel's decision to demand the Oxford hospital trust to retain services in Banbury.

The OCCG this week said it carried out a comprehensive consultation and listened to views of a wide variety of patients, public, partners and stake holders. The board provided a table showing the votes cast on the five changes proposed but refused to discuss the matter further with the Banbury Guardian, which had asked for a breakdown of how surgeries had voted and requested more information on why the Horsefair GPs' views had not been sought earlier.

"The CCG will not add anything further to the information provided in the response to your previous inquiry," its spokesman said.

Dr Haskew said she knew Horsefair had been fully against downgrade of maternity, as was Sibford, Hightown, West Bar and Windrush surgeries.

Another GP from a Banbury practice which also voted against the proposals said: "Good to know that our partners, salaried colleagues and trainees are all so supportive of HGH and, to my mind, healthily cynical of what we're told about the 'unavoidable' loss of services that we've seen orchestrated over the last few years.

"Whilst we are realistic about what difference, if any, our views make, we feel it's important to make it clear we are not supportive of these changes, especially in the face of our rapidly expanding population and the inevitable loss of A&E, anaesthetics and 24-hour paediatrics that will follow (just the timescale unknown)."

Keith Strangwood, chairman of Keep the Horton General said: "In my opinion this whole business has seen the Horton being micro-managed to death.

"It is important this issue of GP support or opposition is cleared up since this was one of the main factors that decided in the Horton's favour when downgrading was last mooted in 2007-8 and the Independent Reconfiguration Panel said the JR was too far to safely or humanely transfer mums in labour or very sick patients.

"All the GPs we have spoken to have confirmed they voted against the removal. Further investigation needs to be carried out. I predict a mighty backlash from the public," he said.

Read the original article at the Banbury Guardian's website, here


Strong comment from Banbury Guardian

17 August 2017

Banburyshire - all 170,000 Horton patients - woke up on Friday to the prospect of losing all local acute hospital services within a year wrote the Banbury Guardian, in a fittingly strong Comment, 17 August 2017.

The Banbury Guardian among many others is angered at the way the decision to wave through permanent loss of consultant-led maternity has been engineered. The strong opinions of 10,000 who took part in an empty consultation were totally ignored. In spite of the OCCG's protestations of 'listening', public opinion was never going to change their plans. It was a waste of a vast amount of money and has left the community bitter. Last week's meeting was a repetition of the charade last July where, before a guaranteed 'go ahead' vote to 'temporarily' end full Horton maternity, rehearsed questions were asked in an empty demonstration of addressing the serious concerns around the loss of the Horton's biggest pivotal department on which all others depend for existence.

When the Banbury Guardian interviewed the new Oxford University Hospitals Trust CEO Dr Bruno Holthof (who sat watching last Thursday's debacle) his descriptions were precisely those used in the case for downgrading the Horton to become a 'hospital fit for the 21st century' with only daycase services.

We have watched neglect of facilities and redirection of patients - grooming for downgrade by dwindling numbers, loss of training accreditation and thus an impossible task of recruiting or affording acute-level medics.

Yet the Horton has been vital to the John Radcliffe's overflow needs. The JR has always sent patients it cannot accommodate to our A&E, children's and maternity wards.

This downgrade is part of a national dismantling of the NHS. District hospitals all over the country face the same centralisation to distant, giant units. Sustainability and Transformation is designed to commercialise the health service and the sooner health bosses and MPs admit this, the better.


Who said what at OCCG Board meeting

Banbury Guardian - 17 August 2017

Only one of Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group's (OCCG) board members stood up for retention of Banbury's full maternity service at last week's crucial meeting that has started a full downgrade of the Horton General Hospital.

Prof Louise Wallace alone made a bid for a final decision on the future of the consultant-led unit to be delayed until plans for the rest of the hospital's departments are finalised. Prof Wallace, a lay member who was chief executive of the Horton until it was merged with the JR in 1998, said she believed it wrong to make a major decision on permanent loss of obstetrics until the second phase of the controversial Oxfordshire Transformation Plan (OTP) was revealed. She alone voted against the downgrade.

The Board voted not to reinstate full maternity which was removed last October because the Oxford University Hospitals Trust said it could not recruit enough middle grade doctors to staff the unit. Banbury MP Victoria Prentis and Witney MP Robert Courts urged the board not to go ahead with the proposals. Keep the Horton General Campaign chairman Keith Strangwood blamed the downgrade and others around England firmly at the door of the government and NHS England for imposing £22 billion of cuts on the NHS by 2020.

Mr Strangwood said: "They need to come clean and tell us this is about money, then we'd know what we're up against." He appealed to the board: "You have a choice today; choose life."

Board members and the Oxford University Hospitals Trust medical director Dr Tony Berendt repeatedly said there was a nationwide staffing crisis with many vacancies at the level of obstetric doctor needed to maintain a consultant-led maternity unit at the Horton.

Dr Berendt described the plan as 'compelling'. He said safety and sustainability were paramount and added to OCCG's 'vibrant vision' for the Horton.

Dr Kiren Collison who was clinical lead for the Horton maternity downgrade, urged those concerned to believe the proposals were safe. She would not recommend them otherwise, she said. Dr Collison said the JR has the capacity to manage an extra 1,000+ births from Banbury and it would not make sense to move consultants from Oxford to Banbury.

The decision not to reinstate full maternity has automatically triggered a referral of the issue to the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, by the Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (JHOSC).

The temporary changes have already affected anaesthetics and Health Education England is set to remove training accreditation for that discipline at the Banbury hospital.

Mr Strangwood said afterwards: "To sit and listen to hours of distortion and spin was debilitating in the extreme. With our background knowledge of process combined with factual information, we have been under no illusion that the OUHFT and OCCG in tandem would not get their own way. They have been angling for this outcome for many years. They are guilty of reckless vandalism of a service that has, and will continue, to lose lives due to its absence."


Legal challenge continues, as domino-effect fears mount

Banbury Guardian, 17 August 2017

Banburyshire is dismayed at the blithe way in which the Horton General Hospital has been downgraded in the face of overwhelming opposition, not least of all local MPs, thousands of campaigners and 10,000 strongly-worded consultation responses.

Campaign group Keep the Horton General (KTHG) chairman Keith Strangwood called the process 'cataclysmic' and a sham. Mr Strangwood, the only member of the public to be allowed to address the meeting, said "We were in touch with our legal team immediately after Thursday's appalling decision. There is not a single chance we will give up fighting for the rights of the people we represent. When the going gets tough, the tough get going," he said.

The decision means certain downgrading of the children's ward whose paediatricians will not be permitted to work in a small ward without duties on labour and post natal wards and Special Care Baby Unit.

And KTHG warned that loss of level three critical care (ventilation) is likely to mean downgrade of the A&E unit.

The closure of 45 beds to encourage moving 'bed blockers' into care homes or 'hospital at home' comes in the same week warnings were issued that one in six care home companies is in danger of insolvency through cuts to social services funds.

The second phase of planned cuts to Horton services including paediatrics starts this autumn with 'engagement' to hear what services people want. Phase One of the Oxfordshire Transformation Plan began in the same way with a meeting at Banbury Town Hall.

People have consistently said they want acute services to remain with consultant-led maternity, paediatrics and A&E to be retained. But the eventual plan, based on the need for Oxfordshire to make £200 million of cuts on its expected budget by 2020, revealed loss of full maternity, 45 medical beds and less intensive care in exchange for more day services.


17 August 2017

Local MPs Victoria Prentis (Banbury), Robert Courts (Witney) and Nadhim Zahawi (Stratford-upon-Avon) have written to David Smith, chief executive of the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group to voice their "extreme disappointment" with the Board's decision to downgrade the Horton General Hospital's maternity unit.

In their letter, published on Twitter, the MPs write;

"We are extremely disappointed with the Board's decision to downgrade the maternity unit at the Horton General Hospital. As you will be aware from our own submissions to your Phase 1 consultation, the Horton and the services it provides vital to our constituents in Oxfordshire and Warwickshire.

You will know that prior to the meeting, Oxfordshire's Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee unanimously agreed to refer the permanent downgrade to the Secretary of State pending the Board's decision. We understand that HOSC is now in the process of preparing this referral.

Given that there are now three referrals to the Secretary of State as well as an ongoing judicial review brought by four councils, we believe it would be improper for the Clinical Commissioning Group to implement the Board's decision until proceedings have run their course. We urge you not to make any changes for the time being and would welcome assurances to this effect from both the CCG and the trust."

The letter is signed by Victoria Prentis MP, Roubert Courts MP and Nadhim Zahawi MP.

MPs letter to CCG chief exec


Banbury Guardian, 17 August 2017

Councillors and MPs expressed their disappointment and anger after the decision was taken to downgrade maternity and critical care services at the Horton General Hospital.

North Oxfordshire MP Victoria Prentis said she was 'furious' with the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) Board for approving the proposals set out in Phase One of its Oxfordshire Transformation Plan while Witney and Chipping Norton MP Robert Courts said the decision was rushed.

Mrs Prentis said she and other Horton supporters were ignored by the board and felt they have been from the start. However she pledged to keep fighting to keep acute services in Banbury and urged constituents not to give up hope.

"The board's decision to approve proposals in the Transformation programme consultation comes as no surprise," she said. "I am furious. Public consultation has been meaningless."

The MP said there are a number of areas which remain unclear including whether the Horton will keep its static ambulance, how people without a car use the JR, the impact on patients' families and the future of Horton staff.

Mr Courts, was just as angry as his Conservative colleague saying downgrading Horton services will affect his constituents.

JHOSC chairman Cllr Arash Fatemain said he hoped the review following referral would overrule OCCG. "I'm thoroughly disappointed by the decision taken today for maternity services. I think the JHOSC recommendations were more than fair and I am frustrated these have not been taken into account," he said.


Event date: 25 August 2017

The Banbury community is pulling together to stage an evening of entertainment on Friday 25 August in aid of the Horton General Hospital legal fighting fund.

All participants are donating their services so it will be a clear profit event. DJ Chris Baxter will be spinning his 'wheels of steel' at the GF Club, which is providing the venue free of charge. A special mention must go to Kevin Preedy, who had previously won a raffle prize donated by Kallkwik, and cashed it in to have the event tickets printed FOC.

Described as Oxfordshire's premier party band, Under the Covers' repertoire ranges from the 80s to the present day. Fronted by Jemma Hibberd, the five piece band has a loyal fan base.

"We are absolutely delighted that such a talented outfit is so committed to raising funds to save services at our hospital" said Keep the Horton General chairman, Keith Strangwood. "It will be a brilliant evening with scores of fantastic raffle prices on offer. With a 7pm start we will be rocking for a brilliant cause until midnight.

"Tickets are selling fast so make sure you get yours without delay on 07393 838345 (Kevin Preedy) or 07786 037542 (Ken Hopkins)".

Under the Covers poster


12 August 2017

48 hours on from the cataclysmic decision taken by the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) scores of people have contacted Keep the Horton General via its website and Facebook page (Save our Horton.), aghast at how the Oxford-centric, predominantly male, Board members could push through the decision to permanently withdraw Consultant-Led Maternity at the Horton hospital which will impact on the lives of innumerable women, and their families, in the Banburyshire area.

"What's happened to human rights? Shame on those who have sabotaged any efforts to save the Horton. Today proved that the OCCG wasted hundreds of thousands of pounds on a dictation not a consultation as the views of the public were not taken into account. What I find extremely upsetting is that one of our own Doctors here in a Banbury Practice did not vote to keep the Horton, he had every opportunity to do so. He is on the board of the CCG" are examples of the comments' timbre.

Keith Strangwood, Chairman of KTHG, the only member of the public to be allowed to address the meeting, said "We were in touch with our legal team immediately after yesterday's appalling decision. There is not a single chance that we will give up fighting for the rights of the people we represent. When the going gets tough, the tough get going".


There's a lot going on

11 August 2017

There's a lot going on in the NHS in Oxfordshire - as evidenced by this weekly briefing by the Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust, which "provides a snapshot of media coverage during the past week and alerts duty executives of any media issues which could arise out of hours".

OUHFT briefing 11 Aug 2017


10 August 2017

It is with sadness, but no great surprise, that we confirm the result of the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group's meeting, held today, 10 August, in Oxford.

During the meeting, the OCCG board members voted to support the following proposals from the consultation:

  • Transfer of Level 3 Critical Care from the Horton to the John Radcliffe (JR) in Oxford.
  • A complete transfer of immediate care for suspected Strokes to the JR.
  • To make permanent the temporary downgrade of the Horton maternity unit from an obstetric to a midwife led unit (MLU).
  • The permanent closure of 110 acute beds, followed by a further 36 bed closures dependent on approval by the Clinical Senate.
  • An increase in Planned Care Services at the Horton, including plans for a new Diagnostic and Outpatient facility.

What happens now?

As voted on Monday, the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee will refer the maternity decision to the Secretary of State for Health, but this position being held by Jeremy Hunt, we caution against too much optimism.

Five local councils and the Keep the Horton General campaign continue to consult with legal representatives regarding the possibility of further action.


Here follows a report from the Banbury Guardian, without whose unwavering support, the campaign would not have made it even this far.

Health chiefs confirm permanent loss of Horton's consultant-led maternity unit

By Roseanne Edwards and Jack Duggan

Oxfordshire health bosses have confirmed the permanent loss of full maternity services in Banbury.

Mothers will now have to travel 25 or more miles to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford to give birth unless they are prepared to have their babies in the midwife-led unit set up at the Horton General Hospital.

The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group Board took the decision not to reinstate consultant-led maternity despite a brave attempt by lay member Prof Louise Wallace to have the decision on permanent loss of obstetrics put off until the second phase of the controversial consultation on Phase Two of the Oxfordshire Transformation Plan.

During the meeting, the OCCG board members voted to support the following proposals from the consultation:

  • Transfer of Level 3 Critical Care from the Horton to the John Radcliffe (JR) in Oxford.
  • A complete transfer of immediate care for suspected Strokes to the JR.
  • To make permanent the temporary downgrade of the Horton maternity unit from an obstetric to a midwife led unit (MLU).
  • The permanent closure of 110 acute beds, followed by a further 36 bed closures dependent on approval by the Clinical Senate.
  • An increase in Planned Care Services at the Horton, including plans for a new Diagnostic and Outpatient facility.

Campaigners have warned from the outset that loss of consultant-led maternity would be the first in a 'domino effect' which they fear will result in a complete loss of acute hospital services in Banbury. The decision not to reinstate full maternity has automatically triggered a referral of the issue to the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, by the Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (JHOSC) after a decision taken at that committee's emergency meeting on Monday.

Loss of full maternity has already affected anaesthetics and Health Education England is set to remove training accreditation for that discipline at the Banbury hospital. The CCG Board also confirmed its plan to change stroke protocols, reduce intensive care provision to exclude ventilation, to increase day surgery provision and diagnostics at the Horton and to confirm the loss of 45 beds closed without consultation last October.

Banbury MP Victoria Prentis and Witney MP Robert Courts urged the board not to go ahead with the proposals and Keep the Horton General Campaign chairman Keith Strangwood put the blame firmly at the door of the government and NHS England for demanding £22 billion of cuts to the NHS by 2020.

Mr Strangwood said: "This CCG should say 'no' to NHS England and NHS England should say 'no' to the government. The plan for closure of beds has not been tried or tested or proven. The CCG says all this is community-led but I get a very different view from GPs. Level three anaesthetics has already gone and that is not good for the Horton's A&E. The options paper presented in May 2016 suggest that in Phase Two, they will suggest a minor injuries unit in Banbury. We need to keep what we have. It has often been said it was a mistake to merge with the JR. They need to come clean and tell us this is about money, then we'd know what we're up against."

He told the Board: "You have a choice today; choose life."

Board members and the Oxford University Hospitals Trust medical director Dr Tony Berendt repeatedly said there was a staffing crisis with huge vacancies in the level of obstetric doctor needed to maintain a consultant-led maternity unit at the Horton. Dr Berendt said the plan is 'compelling' and safety and sustainability are paramount, which adds to the CCG's vibrant vision for the hospital.

Dr Kiran Collison urged those concerned to believe the proposals are safe as she would not recommend them otherwise. Concerns about travel time should be allayed by the fact guidelines say it should not take longer than an hour and the average ambulance times from the Horton to the JR has been 38 minutes, she said. Dr Collison added that the JR does have the capacity and it would not make sense to make consultants from Oxford to Banbury to staff the unit and have mid-level doctors at the JR.

Read the orginal article on the Banbury Guardian's website, here.


Maternity decision may be referred upwards, but HOSC will not fight other downgrading proposals

7 August 2017

Campaigners, politicians and clergy were united in a last-ditch plea to Oxfordshire's Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) at their meeting on August 7.

Almost 20 people, including KTHG campaigners and Banbury MP Victoria Prentis, spoke of their concerns over phase one of the Oxfordshire plans, which includes the permanent downgrading of the Maternity services at the Horton General Hospital, the reduction in the Critical Care level at the Horton from 3 to 2 and acceptance of the closure of 146 acute beds which have already been removed across the county.

KTHG and KONP protesters at HOSC meeting 8 Aug 2017

Keep the Horton General and Keep Our NHS Public campaigners at HOSC, 7 August 2017

Had HOSC voted to refer the entire plan, the Secretary of State for Health might have been able to step in and stop the permanent downgrade at the Horton. However HOSC committee members voted unanimously to approve the reduction in bed numbers and the reduction in Critical Care to level 2, subject to certain conditions and caveats. HOSC committee members said they would refer the Maternity decision to the Secretary of State if the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group decide to approve the permanent downgrade plans at their meeting this Thursday when the First Consultation will be finalised.

Disappointed campaigners from Keep the Horton General and Keep Our NHS Public said HOSC's decision was a 'watered-down threat' and they had hoped for them to refer the whole of the STP to the Secretary of State for Health.

The CCG will make their final decision on the proposals at a meeting on Thursday at 9.30am at the Oxford Examination Schools in High Street, Oxford.

Keep the Horton General is organising a coach to take Horton supporters to Oxford for the critical meeting - see below for details. KTHG Chairman Keith Strangwood has been given five minutes to address the meeting.


Contact us to book your seat

Meeting date - Thursday 10th August

We are organising a coach to take supporters from Banbury to Oxford for Thursday's crucial Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group meeting. The meeting will determine the outcome of Phase 1 of the consultation, which in turn will determine the fate of the Horton General Hospital.

Provisional pick up times:

  • Claydon, 7.30am
  • Whately Hall Hotel, 7.45am

Cost: donations please.

Return time: the coach will leave at the end of the meeting, which is scheduled to be 11.30am, but may run later.

Contact us on 07999 583664 to book your seat.

Coach to OCCG


Banbury Guardian

9 August 2017

The Banbury Guardian is all over Monday's HOSC story with four reports.

Councillors and NHS chiefs go head to head over Horton staffing

United Banburyshire appeals for Horton to be saved

Horton maternity staffing is no cause for permanent closure, says scrutiny committee

Cherwell District Council offers golden hellos to incoming Horton doctors

We'll post the stories here in due course for the permanent record, but in the meantime why not support the Banbury Guardian, longtime supporters of the Horton and our campaign, by buying tomorrow's print version - where you can also read their editorial, which we have heard is pretty strong!

Audience at HOSC meeting 7 Aug 2017

Audience at HOSC meeting, 7 August 2017, including Keep the Horton General and Keep Our NHS Public campaigners, MP Victoria Prentis, CDC leader Barry Wood, former MP Tony Baldry, and the Bishop of Dorchester.


OUHFT must find 52 beds as JR trauma unit is closed

7 August 2017

The Oxford University Hospitals Trust (OUHFT) has suffered a further blow after a health and safety investigation identified problems with the cladding on the trauma unit at the John Radcliffe hospital. The unit has closed with the loss of 52 beds.

OUHFT medical director, Tony Berendt, who has been so outspoken why services should be pared back at the Horton, was faced with the task of finding 52 beds elsewhere.

He estimates that the upgrade of the unit will take up to 12 months. So where were those beds found? Ironically three at the Horton General Hospital!

Mr Strangwood, observed "If you look at the disdain with which the OUHFT has treated the maternity building in Banbury, the lack of any investment in upkeep, the deliberate erosion of maintenance, then you can see their attitude towards their 'estate'. Given the loss of revenue due to the parking ticket machines not being updated in Banbury we can only draw the conclusion that this is a deliberate attempt to 'not resuscitate the patient' in Banbury."



4 August 2017

Bloxham school students Charlie Lewis-Jones, Will Brodey, Will Rymer and George Price have raised an impressive £800 for the campaign to save services at Banbury's Horton General Hospital. The young men walked nearly 90 miles over 4 days, camping overnight.

Speaking to the Banbury Guardian before the walkers left on Tuesday, Charlie said, "Our aim is to raise as much money as possible for the Keep the Horton General Group."

Walkers outside Horton General Hospital

"I got the idea for the fundraising event when trying to decide what to do for my Extended Project Qualification exam. I was among a group of politics students from school on a visit to Parliament last October when we met the Keep the Horton General group on a big demonstration in Westminster that day. We had our photos taken with the group. As a pupil at Bloxham School I have been to the Horton's A&E department on a number of occasions with sporting injuries and I wanted to support the campaign to protect the hospital's services in Banbury."

Charlie approached some of his best friends who willingly offered to join his fundraising venture. The group left the Horton on Tuesday morning aiming to reach Parliament on Friday evening. The four walkers carried a tent which they pitched at camp sites overnight. To save carrying heavy rucksacks they took only snacks in their bags and bought food on the way.

Walkers half way from Horton to London

"My dad and one of the teachers from school are taking it in turns to make sure we're okay every evening," said Charlie.

The boys' route takes them from Banbury to Bicester, close to Tring, Beaconsfield and finally into London to Parliament. The total distance the four will have covered is 83 miles, although commenting on twitter Charlie's mother Lis noted that the distance was closer to 90 because they lost their way a couple of times!

Keep the Horton General Chairman Keith Strangwood said: "It's great that young people are waking up about what the future holds for them with NHS and public service cuts. We need young blood. In small general hospitals like the Horton each department is dependent on the others so these youngsters are right to be fighting for A&E. The whole hospital is in imminent danger of downgrade."

Read the original article from which the quotes were taken on the Banbury Guardian's website, here

Walkers at Parliament


OCCG invite questions before crucial meeting

Deadline 9.30am on 9th August

The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group meet on 10 August to determine the outcome of the first consultation into healthcare in Oxfordshire - which, in turn, will determine the fate of the Horton General Hospital.

THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE to email them and make sure they understand that we need ALL the services of a full district general hospital to be retained at the Horton General Hospital.

Their email address is oxon.gpc@nhs.net

Make sure they receive your email by 9.30am on 9 August!

Extract from the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group's "Talking Health" newsletter:


The OCCG will be holding an Extraordinary Board meeting on 10 August 2017 at the Examinations School, High Street, Oxford (9.30am to 11.30am) when it is expected to make decisions on the outcome of the Big Health and Care Consultation (Phase One of the Oxfordshire Transformation Plan). As part of this, the Board met on 20 June 2017 to receive and consider the consultation reports see here

For the 10 August meeting, you must submit a question to the Board by 9.30am on 9 August. To find out how to submit a question click here. Members of the Board will do their best to answer these questions during the meeting. However, any questions that remain unanswered at the end of the meeting will be answered in writing and put on the OCCG website within 20 working days. To view the responses to the questions submitted to the 20 June Board meeting click here.

If you genuinely support the retention of all services at the Horton General Hospital you need to write and make your feelings known at the board meeting.


OCCG to announce decision at critical meeting

3 August 2017

The future of Banbury's Horton General Hospital will be revealed next week when health bosses finally announce their decision on maternity services and other downgrade proposals, reports the Banbury Guardian, 3 August 2017.

Banburyshire residents have endured a year of nailbiting uncertainty, campaigning and concern as Oxfordshire has responded to government-driven attempts to change how the health service operates.

"Next week is an incredibly important crossroads in the life of the Horton and the welfare of Banbury area patients," said Keith Strangwood, chairman of the Keep the Horton General Campaign group. "By the end of the week we will know if the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) has paid any attention to the overwhelming objections of residents in the catchment area over the planned removal of essential acute services at the Horton.

"We have campaigned as hard as we can, both locally and nationally against the Oxfordshire Transformation Plan which is designed to replace major services at the Horton with day services, diagnostics and outpatient clinics."

The campaign leader said he hoped the Oxfordshire County Council Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC), at its meeting on Monday to consider the issue, might yet refer the entire plan to the Secretary of State for Health.

The Horton is subject of a Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) downgrade proposal which was split into two sections after hospital bosses removed the consultant-led maternity unit and closed 45 medical beds without consultation last autumn.

The Oxfordshire section of the STP also called for confirmation of downgrading of the Horton's intensive care beds, changes in stroke care and changes in bed use to deter hospital admissions in favour of patients being cared for by visting teams at home.

Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group's decision on whether it will confirm its own proposal to remove interdependent acute services from the Horton will be officially made next Thursday at an emergency board meeting. The board meeting papers can be found at www.oxfordshireccg.nhs.uk/board-meetings/extraordinary-board-meeting-10-august-2017/34847.

The HOSC meeting on Monday will consider the OCCG's responses to a number of serious reservations county councillors have about the major change in service style. The changes are reflected in STPs in 44 new health regions. Many district general hospitals such as the Horton are earmarked for either closure or downgrade, resulting in the prospect of mothers having to travel long distances to give birth under the care of a consultant and closure or downgrading of A&E departments which will become GP-led minor injury units.

Mr Strangwood - a former county councillor and HOSC member - said: "No matter what they may say to reinforce their case for taking services from Banbury, we believe 25 miles is too far to ask women in labour to travel.

"It is too dangerous. The Independent Reconfiguration Panel, which saved the Horton in 2008, said so and nothing has changed, except there are many more people using the Horton. And closing hospital beds while there is a funding crisis in social care is a move that will end in disaster."

Read the original article on the Banbury Guardian's website, here.


Survey recommends better access and spacing of appointments

Banbury Guardian, 3 August 2017

In a letter to the Banbury Guardian, Healthwatch's Carol Ball writes:

"Appointments at Oxford's three acute hospitals should be better spread across the week to ease congestion and parking problems, Healthwatch Oxfordshire has recommended.

The suggestion is one of a number made following a survey carried out into people's experiences of travelling to and parking at the four hospitals run by Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUHFT).

Healthwatch Oxfordshire interviewed nearly 300 patients and visitors at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, John Radcliffe and Churchill hospitals in Oxford, and the Horton General Hospital in Banbury.

The board of Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group will consider the report when making decisions about changes in health services in the county.

As well as better spreading of appointments, Healthwatch Oxfordshire also recommended that the Oxford acute hospitals should review the number of blue badge spaces and consider creating a dedicated blue badge parking area.

For the Horton General Hospital and plans to develop the site Healthwatch Oxfordshire recommends that prior to development of the hospital the authority should make sure that:

  • access to the site is looked at;
  • there is a proportionate and prompt increase in parking spaces on site;
  • consideration is given for dedicated park and ride facilities located on the main routes into Banbury from the expected direction of travel of the 'additional' outpatients.

The survey gathered the suggestions of patients and visitors, and Healthwatch Oxfordshire believes that some of these should be considered, including the following suggestions in relation to the Oxford hospitals:

  • introduction of nearby off-site parking with a frequent shuttlebus running to all sites;
  • introduction of cheaper parking fees;
  • more frequent and later direct buses from all park-and-ride sites and the city.

The report also calls for greater clarity from OUHFT regarding any possible plans for a multi-story car park.

The full report is available to read or download on the Healthwatch website."

For the benefit of the permanent record, you can also download the report from our archive, here.


Post-Grenfell review highlights problems

Banbury Guardian, 1 August 2017

Fifty-two inpatient beds are being moved from the John Radcliffe's trauma unit after a fire safety review in the wake of the Grenfell tower tragedy, reports the Banbury Guardian, 1 August 2017.

The beds will be moved to wards within the hospital on Friday. The unit's ground floor outpatient clinic area will remain open while the upper floors will continue to be used for office and storage space.

In addition, three trauma beds, which are specifically for people with hip fractures, have been made available at the Horton Hospital. The number of trauma beds at the Horton had already increased to two at the beginning of July, but as a result of the current issue at the trauma unit, an additional bed has been added.

A report on fire safety was written by Trenton Fire after they were commissioned by the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to make recommendations following a review of fire safety of cladded buildings on the trust's four main hospital sites. The decision to move the patients was made at an extraordinary board meeting of the trust on July 27.

While preparations are being made to move the trauma patients, extra fire safety measures have been put in place at the trauma unit including removing non-essential items which could be a fire risk, such as toasters; extra vigilance to keep fire exits clear; and agreement with the fire service that any alarm going off in the trauma unit will result in immediate attendance by the fire service.

The cladding is not the sole reason for patients being moved. A number of other fire safety issues have been identified such as measures to stop fire spreading between floors not being up to standard and concerns over being able to evacuate patients quickly enough in case of a fire.

Work on the unit is expected to take around a year. Dr Bruno Holthof, chief executive of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: "Our highest priority is the patients in our care and our staff who are dedicated in their care for those patients. In common with many other organisations with public buildings, the trust has been reviewing its fire safety procedures and systems following the tragic events in London. We will implement any changes necessary to ensure that our patients are safe."

The print version of the article continues:

In the wake of the news, Banbury Town and District Cllr Sean Woodcock, said: "Given the disruption and costs involved, I suggest the current consultation on the future of our hospitals be halted until we have a fuller picture of the impact this may have on the Trust's resources.

"The consultations on the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) are built on a premise of reconfiguring services in Oxfordshire, including massive capital expenditure on things like a new diagnostic unit at the Horton. These things are now in considerable doubt as the cost of making existing facilities safe could be enormous"

Read the original article on the Banbury Guardian's website, here.


Banbury Guardian - 27 July 2017

A little under a fortnight before a crucial meeting that includes a verdict on the future of maternity services at the Horton is to be held, Banbury's MP is calling for the decision to be delayed.

The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) is due to hold a meeting on August 10 to make a decision on plans to change health services in the county. The OCCG has been holding a public consultation on the first phase of the Oxfordshire Transformation Plan (OTP) which includes the removal of consultant-led maternity at the Horton, changes to stroke services across the county and the closure of medical beds.

The Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) is due to meet with local NHS representatives to scrutinise the proposals on August 7. This will then be included for discussion the OCCG's extraordinary meeting.

But following a meeting with NHS England and NHS Improvement to discuss her concerns about the OTP consultation, MP Victoria Prentis says the decision on the future of maternity services at the Horton should be delayed until the public had a better idea of the shape of health services in the county.

She said: "While I appreciate the CCG's board will be making a decision on the phase one consultation in a matter of weeks, I hope they will at the very least choose to pause any final decision on maternity services at the Horton General Hospital until we have a better understanding of the shape of health care provision in Oxfordshire.

"It is clear to me if a decision is made on maternity at the Horton on August 10, it will be difficult to reverse and have a significant impact on the future of acute services at our local general hospital," she added.

The public can request to address HOSC via www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/get-involved-meetings

Read the original article on the Banbury Guardian's website, here.


Students to walk from Horton General Hospital to London to raise campaign funds

Just Giving page open now

Bloxham School students Charlie Lewis-Jones and friends are walking 70 miles from the Horton General Hospital to the centre of London, from the 1st to the 4th of August, to raise money for the campaign - specifically to protect A&E, which is threatened under Options 2 and 3 of the OUHFT's "Emerging Options".

Writing on his Just Giving page, Charlie says the 70 mile trek promises to be an exhausting and challenging experience.

The students are hoping to raise £400 for the campaign. If you would like to support them, please follow this link to Charlie's Just Giving page to donate. Thank you, good luck and let's hope the weather is kind!

Charlie Lewis-Jones and friends at a protest in London, November 2016

Horton supporters, including Charlie Lewis-Jones and friends, at a protest in London, November 2016.


Little progress made on doctor recruitment as OCCG prepares to decide future of unit

15 July 2017

Patients and campaigners in North Oxfordshire hoping to see their hospital's maternity unit restored should not hold their breath, it has been warned, reports the Banbury Cake, 15 July 2017.

In October last year maternity services at the Horton General Hospital were downgraded to midwife-led status due to the lack of doctors in post.

Since then expectant mothers deemed high-risk, or those who face complications during labour, have had to travel to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford to give birth.

In a report to the board of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust on Wednesday, clinical services director Paul Brennan said seven out of nine middle-grade doctors needed at the Horton were now in post.

He said: "As the board will recall, we absolutely need nine to maintain the rota. To make the jobs attractive they are being rotated through the John Radcliffe. Those middle grade doctors are working at the JR for now; some want to get on the specialist register so giving them that experience at the JR is really positive. They also run antenatal and screening classes at the Horton, so they get that balance."

But he added that efforts to recruit consultant obstetricians had led to less promising results, with just three in post. He said: "We also need a minimum of five consultants to run the rota. We have had a rolling advert for eight months now and we haven't had one appointment."

Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group is to consider making the downgrade to maternity at the Horton permanent in a meeting on August 10.

Read the original report on the Banbury Cake's website, here

In response to the article, Keep the Horton General chairman Keith Strangwood commented, "The goal posts keep moving. We've always known that the Trust claimed to need nine middle grade doctors, but as they near that target, and with less than a month to go before the OCCG meet to decide the future of maternity services, all of a sudden they're short of consultants too? To say we question their commitment to re-open the consultant-led maternity unit would be a massive understatement."


Event date: Friday 25 August 2017

Local band "Under the Covers" will be performing live, plus DJ Chris Baxters Disco, at the General Foods Club in August. All proceeds will be going to our fighting fund to save services at the Horton General Hospital.

  • Date: Friday 25 August 2017
  • Time: 7pm to midnight
  • Venue: General Foods Club, Banbury

Tickets are available from the GF Club or from the promoters on 07397 838345 or 07786 037542.

It should be a great night so get your tickets early!

Under the Covers poster

Read more about Under the Covers, here.


Healthwatch says protests demonstrate the public's concern over future provision

Banbury Guardian, 14 July 2017

The spotlight on health services in Banbury is continuing as the county's watchdog highlighted the public concerns about the future, reports the Banbury Guardian.

Healthwatch Oxfordshire launched its annual report on Tuesday and said protests over health services showed how much concern there was over future provision. It claimed the public response to changes to health services proposed in the Transformation consultation, such as the permanent removal of obstetric services from Banbury's Horton Hospital, demonstrate how deep-seated the public's concern is.

Rosalind Pearce, executive director, added: "Health and care services have been undergoing huge change, with the first phase of the Transformation consultation complete, and the second phase to come next year. While this has been going on, we have continued to gather the experiences of people who use those services, and what they have told us, in the main, is that while they are largely happy with the quality of the care they receive, certain aspects of the system, including waiting times, continue to be a cause for concern."

Healthwatch's report emerged in the same week the Oxford University Hospitals Trust (OUHT) board was due to discuss its finances - at a meeting held on Wednesday. NHS Improvement, which supports organisations which provide NHS-funded care, is conducting an investigation into OUHT's finances. The investigation follows overspending by the trust over the past year to the tune of £5.6million on pay and £19million on non-pay items. The OUHT was notified of the investigation on May 31 and is waiting for further information.

A spokesman from NHS Improvement said: "NHS Improvement launched an investigation into the finances of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in May 2017. This was due to the trust's deteriorating financial performance compared to its plan, from January to March this year. The purpose of the investigation, which is ongoing, is to determine whether the trust needs support to return to a financially sustainable position, and if so, what form that support should take."

In a separate development, the group responsible for overseeing the consultation on changes to health services in the county, including the downgrading of the Horton, saw the resignation of two of its key members. Dr Joe McManners, clinical chair of the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG), and David Smith, OCCG chief executive, are stepping down from their roles. Dr McManners has decided not to seek re-election to the post in February 2018 and will be standing down as soon as a successor has been appointed while Mr Smith plans to retire from his role at the end of December. He has been at the helm of the OCCG since 2014.

North Oxfordshire MP, Victoria Prentis, has called for the consultation to be suspended as Mr Smith would be leaving half way through the county's transformation plan process. She said: "My constituents and I are still waiting for decisions to be made regarding the Phase One consultation. It had been anticipated that Phase Two would start at the end of this year. I am not sure how a change in management will affect this. I remain concerned about the future of health services in Oxfordshire, particularly in the north of the county. David Smith and Dr McManners had a key role in compiling the consultation document yet they won't be around to see any of the changes through. The consultation process must be stopped. While such uncertainty could delay matters further, I am hopeful that a change in leadership may allow the opportunity for a new vision for health services, ensuring that they remain safe, kind and close to home. The Horton General Hospital remains my number one priority."

The Healthwatch report is available to read or download from Healthwatch Oxfordshire's website, here.

Read the original article on the Banbury Guardian's website, here.


Banbury Guardian

14 July 2017

Former boxing champion Tim Witherspoon has thrown his 'heavyweight' behind the campaign to protect the Horton's services.

The American two-time heavyweight champion was invited to Banbury by boxing promoter Kevin Baker. Mr Witherspoon was happy to be pictured with a Horton campaign T-shirt outside the hospital.

Keep the Horton General chairman, Keith Strangwood, said: "We need all the heavy hitters we can get. How fabulous that someone of the stature and reputation of Tim is happy to promote our message. Sportsmen and women from across the county rely on A&E services being available at the Horton. We absolutely have to retain it."

Former World Champion boxer Tim Witherspoon shows his support for the Horton General Hospital

Former World Champion boxer Tim Witherspoon shows his support for the Horton General Hospital.

Read the original article on the Banbury Guardian website here.


Oxfordshire one of the 'most challenged' areas in the country

Banbury Cake, 8 July 2017

Health inspectors will scrutinise the county's health and social care services after it was found to be one of the 'most challenged' areas in the country.

In a bid to slash 'bed blocking' in NHS hospitals, Oxfordshire is one of 12 areas to be targeted by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) this summer.

The CQC review will focus on the county's successes and failures in helping older people move between health and social care services, including delayed transfers of care. The move, announced by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in Parliament on Monday, will be accompanied by the threat of financial sanctions to areas which fail to improve.

Mr Hunt said: "No one should stay in a hospital bed longer than necessary. It removes people's dignity, reduces their quality of life; leads to poorer health and care outcomes for people; and is more expensive for the taxpayer."

Bed blocking refers to a situation where patients are fit enough to leave hospital but have nowhere suitable to be discharged to. It tends to be caused by delays in organising community care, further assessments, spaces in nursing homes and beds in community hospitals.

To identify areas in most need of review, the Department of Health (DoH) used data from March 2016 to April this year. It looked at factors including the number of emergency admissions of over 65s and the number of delayed days from someone in hospital then being transferred into social care services.

In Oxfordshire there were an average of 33.3 delayed days.

The review is expected to be published in autumn and the county's bosses will be expected to set out how they plan to improve bed blocking, or risk not getting cash from the Better Care Fund, a multi-billion pound pot to ease cohesion between health and social care.

In the past 10 years Oxfordshire has often been rated one of the worst areas in the country for bed blocking and was ranked worst in January 2015.

Oxfordshire County Council spokesman Paul Smith said: "We welcome the chance to be one of 12 initial areas to be subject to the first round of system reviews of health and social care. A huge amount of effort is being put in to improving social and health care systems in Oxfordshire.We know that it is the intention that review findings will highlight what is working well and where there are opportunities for improving how the system works, enabling the sharing of good practice and identifying where additional support is needed."


The Times

5 July 2017

Councils have turned on the NHS over "secretive, opaque and top-down" reforms that they say will fail patients, reports The Times, 5 July 2017.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, has staked his tenure on co-ordinating care more effectively and has said that local authorities are crucial to the process because they oversee public health and social care for the elderly.

Not one councillor who responded said they had been very involved in drawing up plans and nine out of ten said the process had been driven from Whitehall rather than locally. Cultural clashes with a "command and control" NHS that did not trust elected councillors meant that more local authorities believed the process was harming social care than helping it.

Mr Stevens has created 44 "sustainability and transformation partnerships" (STPs) where hospitals and GPs are meant to plan with councils on how to improve care and help close a £22 billion black hole in the NHS budget. However, four out of five councillors said the system was not fit for purpose and criticised the NHS for prioritising cost-cutting and closing hospital units over preventing illness.

Izzi Seccombe of the Local Government Association said: "Many councillors have been disappointed by the unilateral top-down approach of the NHS in some of the STP areas. As our survey results show, the majority of local politicians who responded feel excluded from the planning process. If local politicians and communities are not engaged then we have serious doubt over whether STPs will deliver."

Half the 152 councils with social care responsibilities responded to the survey and 81 councillors with responsibility for health contributed. "The way in which the STP has been handled (top down, secretive, lack of engagement) has harmed relationships between the council and some NHS colleagues," one said. "Not one councillor who responded said they had been very involved in drawing up plans and nine out of ten said the process had been driven from Whitehall rather than locally."

Councillors criticised STPs as "complex and full of jargon", saying "the NHS simply does not understand the decision making of local government".

Ms Seccombe said that in a centralised NHS, managers often did not want to share information with party political councils accountable to local voters, saying that the process was "trying to mix oil and water".

Chris Ham, chief executive of the King's Fund think tank, said: "This survey suggests worrying numbers of council leaders are still frustrated by the process and lacking in confidence in their local plan. A huge effort is now needed to make up lost ground."

A spokesman for NHS England said: "By creating STPs we have issued a massive open invitation to those parts of local government willing to join forces, while recognising that local politics can sometimes make this harder. The fact that public satisfaction is more than twice as high for the NHS as it is for social care underlines the real pressure on councils. It should serve as a wake-up call to every part of the country about the importance of joint working."

Read the original article on The Times website (behind paywall)


The Swedish maternity hospital with no babies

9 July 2017

Can you imagine travelling in the deep Swedish snow, for up to 2 hours, in labour? This article, found on the BBC's website, shows how locals are adapting to the closure of their maternity hospital - with thousands of concerned locals taking turns to occupy the ward, 24/7 - and midwives running courses on how to give birth in your car.

Filmed and produced by Elise Wicker and Andy Brownstone for the BBC.

Swedish hospital with no babies BBC
Click the picture or this link to watch the video.


KTHG joins rally in Oxford to mark anniversary

1 July 2017

Keep the Horton General supporters travelled to Oxford on Saturday 1 July to join a rally to mark the 69th anniversary of the NHS. Chairman Keith Strangwood was one of many speakers addressing the rally, which was attended by supporters who had travelled from as far afield as Lincolnshire. Also representing Banbury was local journalist Roseanne Edwards who stood on a Save the Horton ticket in the recent election. She received a tremendous round of applause from the crowd.

KTHG supporters

The crowd included special guest Aneira Thomas - born at one minute past midnight on 5 July 1948, she holds the record as the first baby born into the NHS. She was presented with a large cake celebrating her, and the NHS', 69th birthday.

KTHG supporters, proudly bearing the Hands off the Horton banner, marched directly behind Aneira who was at the head of the procession which made its way through the centre of Oxford to the Martyr's Memorial. En route Aneira was joined by Ken Loach, director of I, Daniel Blake.

A variety of speakers, including Aneira and Ken, addressed the crowd. Many were unaware Aneurin Bevan had stood in the same place many years before delivering his message of hope and vision for the revolutionary health service.

"It is absolutely disgraceful that the NHS is being run into the ground. It is much envied around the world. As recently as 2012, the NHS was championed in the opening ceremony of the London Olympics," commented Mr Strangwood. "KTHG has been committed for many years to fighting the cuts and retaining full services at the Horton. More recently this has become a national issue as was witnessed by the hundreds of thousands who took to the streets of London yesterday. People are not prepared to witness the NHS sink like a stone.

"Locally two key members of the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, which is driving through the draconian cuts to the Horton, have announced their resignation. If they underestimated the strength of public opposition to their plans, and now see their positions as untenable, I have no sympathy. They were naive to think that the people of Banburyshire would just roll over".

The Oxford Mail covered the celebration / protest, reporting "World-renowned film director Ken Loach addresses Hands off our NHS cuts protest in city centre". The report continues, "Campaigners including Ken Loach unleashed an impassioned stream of speeches on the streets of Oxford. The world-renowned film director, of Kes and I, Daniel Blake fame, joined scores of protesters this afternoon to speak out in defence of the NHS.

Ken Loach

Hands off our NHS campaign group led crowds from South Park to Martyrs' Memorial in St Giles, where speakers condemned cuts and privatisation of the National Health Service. Mr Loach warned the NHS was 'teetering on the edge of survival'.

"Noting 'overstretched' staff, he said: "There is this dreadful pay cap where medical staff and public service workers' pay has been frozen."

He said it was 'deplorable' that Tory MPs "lorded (sic) public service workers as heroes after the terrible Grenfell Tower fire" but days later rejected Labour's bid to lift the cap. Mr Loach, who is a keen Jeremy Corbyn supporter, called on Labour MPs to 'match their leadership', adding: "We can't win the fight if our army is lagging behind. Labour MPs must be absolutely committed to repressing privatisation of the NHS, not just [committed to] getting into power. I think the spirit of our age now is getting there. The election was a sea change: we can get there, if we keep campaigning and keep fighting."

The group had enjoyed a picnic at South Park to mark the 69th birthday of the NHS, before marching to the memorial via St Clements and High Street at about 2.30pm. Historian Ciaran Walsh, who leads the Radical Walking Tour of Oxford, riled up cheering crowds in St Giles with an emotive speech. He described Martrys' Memorial as 'Pied Piper corner', as many historical meetings and socialist speeches have been held on its steps. Mr Walsh said: "The NHS is our true commons and now they want to enclose it. It is our mother. I was born on the NHS and all our families depend on it. My mother worked in the NHS as a nurse - I am proud of my mother, and of my mother the NHS. They mean the same thing to me."

Cieran Walsh

He urged people to join the fight to save the NHS, adding: "Write down a complaint and send it to your hospital administrator; send it to your councillors and MP. This belongs to us. The NHS was put there for the many, not the few. We only stand together."

He was followed by Welsh-born Aneira Thomas, who is thought to have been the first baby ever born into the NHS. Addressing the campaigners, she said NHS creator Aneurin Bevan - whom she was named after - would be 'turning in his grave' to see what the service had become. She said: "He not only dreamt about changing the future, he did something about it. I compare his vision of changing lives to the famous words of Martin Luther King: I have a dream. The NHS is not a bottomless pit. It gets taken for granted....let's preserve and protect this fantastic service. It is our jewel in the crown. I feel there are too many high managers earning six-figure salaries when the frontline workers have to fight for menial pay rises. It's disgusting. Bevan would turn in his grave to know this is going on. He left a legacy and we must not let it slip away."

Aneira Thomas

London-based surgeon Rishi Dhir reiterated concerns about privatisation and cuts, describing threats to the system as 'disheartening and worrying'. Speaking at Martys' Memorial, he told crowds: "There is pressure on staff to maintain a particular service and year on year funds and resources are being cut. There is only so much you can cut before quality diminishes and lives are put at risk. This isn't mythology or scare stories: this is what we face every single day. I have seen colleagues leaving the NHS in their droves.....to be honest, I don't blame them. Wages are being cut and they are being forced to do the job of two, three or four doctors. We do our best but it gets to a point where you are putting patients' lives in danger."

Dr Dhir echoed other speakers by criticising the Conservative party and even sang a protest song with the chorus: "It's not safe, it's not fair, but they just don't care. We did not sign up for this."

Campaigner Tony O'Sullivan, who was last to speak, described health cuts as 'savage'. He said: "So much more damage will come with the STPs (Sustainability and Transformation Plans). We have to be united amongst ourselves in defence of the NHS. We can do this. If we join together and persuade other people to join the health campaigns, we will win back the NHS - not just for ourselves, but for our children."

More than one hundred people were estimated to have attended the picnic in South Park, including campaigners from Save Deer Park Medical Centre in Witney, Keep the Horton General campaign, and Keep our NHS Public Oxfordshire.

Read the original article in the Oxford Mail here.


Both Chief Exec. and Clinical Chair to go

28 June 2017

The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) has announced that its clinical chair, Dr Joe McManners, has decided not to seek re-election to the post in February 2018 and will be standing down as soon as a successor has been appointed.

At the same time, chief executive David Smith has announced his intention to retire from his role at the end of December 2017.

The announcements come shortly before the results of the OCCG's much-criticised split consultation on the future of health services in North Oxfordshire are made public.

KTHG chairman Keith Strangwood commented, "It seems that they underestimated the strength of public opposition to their plans, and now see their positions as untenable. I have no sympathy. They were naïve to think that the people of Banburyshire would just roll over".


Victoria Prentis MP comments

27 June 2017

Banbury MP Victoria Prentis has issued the following comment on her website in response to the news that David Smith and Joe McManners are retiring from the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group.

"News of David Smith's retirement from the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group later this year has come as a surprise, particularly as he will leave when we are only half way through the Transformation Programme process. We have never had an easy relationship in my time as an Oxfordshire MP, particularly when it comes to the Horton General Hospital. I am also disappointed that Dr Joe McManners has decided not to seek re-election, although I understand his position given the difficulties general practice is currently facing.

My constituents and I are still waiting for decisions to be made regarding the Phase One consultation. It had been anticipated that Phase Two would start at the end of this year. I am not sure how a change in management will affect this. I remain concerned about the future of health services in Oxfordshire, particularly in the north of the county. David Smith and Dr McManners had a key role in compiling the consultation document yet they won't be around to see any of the changes through. The consultation process must be stopped. While such uncertainty could delay matters further, I am hopeful that a change in leadership may allow the opportunity for a new vision for health services, ensuring that they remain safe, kind and close to home. The Horton General Hospital remains my number one priority."

Victoria Prentis MP speaking at a Horton rally in 2016.

Victoria Prentis MP speaking at a Horton rally in 2016 (credit Peter Jones)

Link: Read the original article on Victoria Prentis' website here.


MP should "hold Prime Minister to ransom" to protect Horton General Hospital

27 June 2017

Labour campaigners in North Oxfordshire have called on their local MP to 'hold the Prime Minister to ransom' to protect acute services at the Horton General Hospital (reports the Banbury Cake, 27 June 2017)

Sean Woodcock, the leader of the Labour group on Cherwell District Council, has said Banbury MP Victoria Prentis should use her influence as a Conservative MP in a hung parliament to block legislation that could harm the Horton.

Last week Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) held a meeting to discuss the first part of its consultation into transforming the NHS in Oxfordshire, which includes centralising some of the Horton's acute services in Oxford and retaining a midwife-led, rather than doctor-led, maternity unit. The downgrading of maternity at the Horton has been widely condemned.

Mr Woodcock said: "In her victory speech just two weeks ago, Victoria Prentis said that she wanted to work with Labour to protect services at the Horton. Well, I am asking her to listen to Labour now and hold her government to ransom if necessary in order to protect the services there."

He added: "We now have a hung parliament and a weak Prime Minister scrabbling around to do a deal. Victoria has potentially more influence than any Banbury MP for a number of decades. She must be very clear that her support for the government, and her vote, is conditional on retaining key services at the Horton."

CDC Labour leader Sean Woodcock

Leader of the Labour group on Cherwell District Council, Sean Woodcock


Scathing attack on 'useless' plans to shake up health services in Oxfordhire

26 June 2017

Senior health figures have launched a scathing attack on 'useless' plans to shake up health services in Oxfordshire and said they need to be taken back to the drawing board (reports the Banbury Cake, 26 June 2017)

Criticism has erupted over Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group's (CCG) phase one of the Oxfordshire Transformation Plan, which will see a downgrading of services at the Horton Hospital in Banbury and a reduction of nearly 200 beads across the county. The CCG has introduced the plans as a way of streamlining services to address a growing financial shortfall and the needs of an ageing population.

But a recent 12-week consultation on the changes has been branded 'dishonest' while there are also fears thousands of residents will be left without adequate cover in years to come with more work falling to under-pressure nurses and doctors.

Retired GP and chairman of Oxfordshire Local Medical Committee Dr Prit Buttar said he was appalled the CCG had not carried out any assessment of its resources before devising the plan. He said: "If you are an army general and you are going to invade France you are not going to do it with just eight men. There has been no evidence that the CCG has looked at the resources and the workforce it currently has and then used that information to determine a plan and a way forward.

"I have not seen a single document which shows the impact these plans will have on GPs workload and community nurses and these are the people that are going to be expected to deliver this plan. Without that key information on what is possible and do-able with the resources, well its just a completely useless and unsustainable plan."

He also reiterated residents' concerns brought up in last week's CCG board meeting and also by Oxfordshire County Councillors that the consultation itself was flawed.

He added: "The CCG needs to be honest and upfront with patients and tell them that this is about cuts. In the consultation they needed to ask patients what services they would want to keep going and which ones they could potentially live without.

At the end of the day this is going to be a poorer system than the one we already have and we need to tell people, rather than lying to them by saying it is going to be better. I think we need to start again."

Newly appointed chairman of Healthwatch Oxfordshire George Smith has also warned the county needs to prepare for a growing population, rather than focusing on short term cuts. He said: "There are many planning documents which are predicting a 27 per cent growth in the population by 2031, with 185,000 more people coming to the county. If we were expecting guests we would make up the beds, put fresh towels out, stock up the larder and maybe do a bit of baking. Instead we are selling off the beds, taking the towels to the charity shops and emptying the larder. In the short term we may be shutting facilities, to only reopen them in the longer term and I fear we will be spending two lots of money to only get back to where we started. We need to have a clear vision."

Stephen Parkinson from the Oxfordshire health branch of Unison, which represents many health workers in Oxfordshire, said the consultation had been a 'shambles'. He added: "It is an absolute disgrace that the CCG is not looking at getting more workforce. This plan should be abolished, it needs completely rethinking."

CCG board members spent time last week scrutinising the public's concerns over the future of maternity at the Horton General Hospital, bed closures, the consultation process and the division of the plans in two phases. Its chairman Dr Joe McManners said they were committed to seeking further clarification and assurances on aspects of the proposals before a decision will be made on August 10. He added: "For me the consultation process is about trying to get the safest options. It is about lessening people's concerns and for us to respond as much as possible and try to answer questions and fill in the gaps. And to make sure that whatever decision is taken, it has been thought through as much as possible. We have got really great services that can provide capacity at home as well as safe as possible service for the whole community."

In a bid to get some more assurances and answers on the plans and key reports still to come, which assess its impact, dissatisfied HOSC members called for an additional public meeting ahead of the big decision in August. Chief executive of the CCG David Smith said it would be 'happy' to comply adding: "We have not made a decision on the plans as it will be made on August 10. We have said we will look again at some of the issues raised from the consultation and we will look at issues you have raised."


Influential committee "unsatisfied"

23 June 2017

Major plans to overhaul the NHS in Oxfordshire were called into question yesterday by concerned committee members, (reports the Banbury Cake, 23 June 2017)

Members of Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) called for another public meeting ahead of Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group's (CCG) decision on its health and social care plans.

Unsatisfied with the negative public responses arising from a 12-week consultation on phase one of the Oxfordshire Transformation Plan, coupled with a lack of key reports, members said there was not sufficient time to assess all new information before the decision will be made on August 10.

Newly elected chairman of the HOSC, Arash Fatemian, said: "That is a lot of work we have still yet to receive and a lot of reports to come but I am concerned about how much time we have to look at them. To me it seems with reports coming in at the end of July that is not long enough to digest all that work. I think committee members are pleased that work is on going but I'm concerned about the process and the timescale.

"There is a concern that when a decision is made on August 10, it will be an irreversible process and any decision by HOSC will be useless."

Oxfordshire county councillor for Wantage, Jenny Hannaby, said the decision date should be pushed back completely, to allow for proper scrutiny. She added: "I think the decision meeting on August 10th should be abandoned and another one set up in its place later on. No one will have the time to go through all those reports and scrutinise them properly in the short space of time we have left before this decision meeting.

"We still do not have the integrated impact assessment, which is supposed to be telling us how these proposals will impact the public. That is a crucial document and I don't know how you can make a decision without having the proper time to consider it."

More than 10,000 people took part in the CCG's consultation on the plans to reshape the way health services are delivered in Oxfordshire in response to a growing, ageing population and limited finances.

Considerable criticism was directed at the health body over the consultation process and document, including concerns about it being split into two phases and allegations of 'leading questions'.

Universal concerns were also expressed over the future of maternity at the Horton General Hospital in Banbury, which was downgraded to midwife-led status last October, as well as 'strong support' for keeping urgent and emergency care there.

But in general respondents agreed with proposals to centralise acute stroke care in Oxford and increased outpatient care at the Horton.

Speaking at the meeting chief executive of the CCG, David Smith, said it would be 'happy' to comply with the committee's wishes of an additional meeting. He said: "We have not made a decision on the plans as it will be made on August 10. We have said we will look again at some of the issues raised from the consultation and we will look at issues you have raised."


Debate rages on Banbury Guardian's letters page

22 June 2017

An interesting debate is raging on the Banbury Guardian's letters page regarding MP Victoria Prentis' duty to her constituents in the light of the hung parliament.

Writing in the Banbury Guardian's letters page on 15 June, local resident Peter McLoughlin expressed his view that the government's loss of majority presented an opportunity for Ms Prentis to fight for the Horton.

"On May 30 in St Mary's church, Victoria Prentis, our newly re-elected MP, declared to the audience that she would do 'almost anything to save the Horton' ", wrote Mr McLoughlin. "Well how about this: the outcome of the election on June 8 was a catastrophe for the Tory government, but for backbenchers with crusades for which they will do "almost anything", it is a godsend.

"Every backbencher's vote is now invaluable. They can name their prices for keeping the government in office. I challenge Ms Prentis to make her position clear regarding any opportunity to oppose any bill in Parliament to further the implementation of STP (Sustainability and Transformation Plans) across the country and to make known to the whips that her absolute loyalty is conditional on an undertaking that the Horton will be restored as a fully-fledged general hospital starting with the restoration of maternity and paediatric services with all the ancillary services necessary to support this and the retention of a fully operational A&E facility. Or is this one of the 'almost anythings' she won't do? Does her loyalty to her party and her political career come before the welfare of her constituents?"

Replying to Mr McLoughlin on the 22nd June, Victoria Prentis wrote: "As I made clear at the hustings Peter McLoughlin referred to in his letter last week, I was born at the Horton General Hospital come from a family committed to ensuring health services remain local.

Both my parents have been vocal campaigners for the Horton, and my mother was a trustee for the Brackley Cottage Hospital for many years. Well before I considered going into politics, I set up and shared the benefactors' board for the Oxford Radcliffe Trust, helping to raise raise huge sums for children's services across the county, not least the Horton, which I always ensured was on the agenda. For me, the fight to save the Horton General Hospital is a part of life.

My colleagues at Westminster can be in no doubt about how passionately I feel about the Horton General Hospital. I have spoken about the Horton, both in the chamber and in private, more than any other subject. I am prepared to vote against the government when it is in the local interest, and did so on HS2 during the last Parliament. I am grateful to all those who voted for me at the election, and look forward to resuming the cross-party fight to retain acute services at the Horton."

However, another local resident Chris Walker questioned how much MPs can be trusted to put the needs of local residents ahead of national party politics. "I am in full support of returning full maternity, full A&E and intensive care at the Horton," he wrote, "having in the past written to our MP, stood on KHG and junior doctor demonstrations and picket lines and heard the OCCG put their case at a recent U3A meeting. The continuing support of the Banbury Guardian during the last crisis and this one has been genuine, unfailing and essential. Thank you.

"Peter McLoughlin has put Victoria Prentice MP on the line (letters of last week). Will she support us in our efforts to keep the Horton services or will she ultimately put party and career first before those whom she represents?

"The question is a legitimate one but, in Victoria's defence, she also has to consider the 33,000 constituents who voted for the Conservative manifesto at the recent election which included implementation of the STP and the consequential downgrading of hospitals like the Horton. They are the majority voice here and, if democracy is to be observed, they must be listened to as well.

"I did not vote Conservative this time because, unlike the 33,000 who did, I do not support STP or the destruction to health services across the country following in its wake. But we are where we are, as Donald Trump said: "You went out and voted and here I am."

"As for the editor's "fingers crossed" (p26) and Keith Strangwood's 'hope' that ultimately the CCG will "care enough about North Oxfordshire" (p3), both of which are dependent on a listening government showing some compassion for ordinary working and retired people, young mothers and unborn children, will yield a baron (sic) outcome if the PM's immediate lack of response to the Grenfell Tower inferno victims is anything to go by.

"The lesson is we must keep standing up for our needs as a community and not put too much faith and hope in our political representatives in parliament because they may have a separate, conflicting agenda."


Politicians comment on Horton issues

16 June 2017

Following Thursday's general election, the candidates have commented on the impact of the results on the future of the Horton General Hospital and the wider NHS.

Re-elected Conservative MP Victoria Prentis said, "Locally we have a big challenge which is to save the Horton General Hospital which I very much hope going forward we can all work together to do."

Labour candidate, Sean Woodcock, said "I congratulate Victoria Prentis on her re-election but vow to continue to hold her to account as her government's austerity agenda and desire to privatise the NHS are so unpopular."

Independent candidate Roseanne Edwards, who stood in order to ensure the issues of NHS and the Horton General Hospital would be front and centre in the election in the Banbury constituency, commented, "In Banbury the election result means the threat to the Horton is still in full force and I believe our Conservative MP's pledge to keep fighting for our hospital is one she knows will not be the success the people of Banbury are expecting. The plan for the Horton is well established. The consultant maternity unit is destined for permanent closure and the building has been decommissioned. I believe an announcement will be made imminently that the Oxfordshire Transformation Plan proposals to downgrade the Horton will be confirmed."


15 June 2017

People in Banburyshire don't want services at the Horton to be downgraded, a report on the recent consultation into changes to healthcare services has said. (Reports the Banbury Guardian, 15 June 2017)

Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) will discuss the results of the first phase of the public consultation into the Oxfordshire Transformation Plan at a meeting next Tuesday, June 20, from 9.30am at Jubilee House in Oxford. The OCCG will make a final decision at an extraordinary board meeting on August 10. The consultation, which ran from January 16 to April 9, sought views on changing the use of acute hospital beds; planned care services at the Horton General Hospital; stroke services across Oxfordshire; critical (intensive) care services at the Horton, and; maternity services, including obstetrics, special care baby unit and emergency gynaecology services at the Horton.

The report showed 47 per cent of respondents in Banbury and the surrounding area were opposed to proposals for high risk births to be sent to the JR while maintaining a midwife-led unit at the Horton, with 28 per cent in the area in favour. Across the county, 38 per cent were in favour. The report said: "The level of agreement with this proposal falls further for the areas of Oxfordshire that would be directly affected by such a shift in maternity and obstetric services.

"The proposal to maintain a midwife-led unit at the Horton attracted significant levels of opposition in responses." It added respondents said removing the consultant-led unit at the Horton would pose a significant and unreasonable risk to the lives of mothers and babies, in light of recommendations of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel in 2008 that the travelling distance between the Horton and the JR was too great.

There was support for new services to be introduced at the Horton, including:

  • 85 per cent were in favour of a new diagnostic unit;
  • 85 per cent agreed with investing in an assessment unit for patients before operations, thus avoiding the need to travel to Oxford;
  • 84 per cent agreed there should be more chemotherapy, renal dialysis and day case surgery;
  • 78 per cent agreed with introducing a new outpatient unit with a 'one stop shop' clinic for appointments;
  • But respondents also said new services at the Horton should not be at the expense of other services, including A&E and obstetrics.

Other headline figures in the report include:

  • 61 per cent of consultees living in Banbury and surrounding areas opposed the permanent closure of hospital beds;
  • Specific objections were raised concerning the removal of 45 beds in Banbury;
  • 25 per cent of people in Banbury were not in favour of the proposal to treat all level three critical care patients at the John Radcliffe, with concerns that ceasing level three critical care at the Horton would be a precursor to removing A&E.

It added consultees had questioned the accuracy of travel times to the JR and there had been 'considerable criticism' of the consultation process and document.

Keith Strangwood from Keep the Horton General said it was clear a huge percentage wanted the obstetrics unit in Banbury to stay. He added: "It is clear the plan is to put the pain in the north. It is still clear people are against the proposals.

"Let's hope the CCG care enough about north Oxfordshire people to listen to these survey results."

Any people wanting to submit questions to the OCCG board ahead of Tuesday's meeting have until 9.30am on Monday, June 19, to do so. Questions can be submitted by email to oxon.gpc@nhs.net.

Read the original article on the Banbury Guardian website here.


A serious blow to the Horton's future

13 June 2017

Changes in anaesthetics training at the Horton General Hospital could mark a serious blow in the battle to keep acute services in Banbury, according to a campaign leader. Training places at the Horton are being suspended because of a 'short term' issue of vacancies in other hospitals.

Oxford University Hospitals Trust (OUHT) planner Andrew Stevens will tell Banburyshire stakeholders tomorrow that the Horton will get no trainees this cycle or next. This, he will say, will leave the service in the care of the resident consultant rota.

In the meantime, the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) will decide on its plans to downgrade the Horton entirely on August 10. Its report is due out this week. Keith Strangwood, chair of the Keep the Horton General Group said a distinct gap in anaesthetics training was very worrying in the light of loss of consultant-led maternity. "If the Horton loses its Royal College anaesthetic training recognition it is another critical domino falling - what we've always warned about," he said. "Remove one major department, it compromises essential support. The deanery - which places training doctors - has decided our hospital is the one to lose trainees because other hospitals have a lot of gaps."

"And because we have already lost a lot of activity, the Horton is being made to do without trainee cover. It coincides with the plans to end full maternity permanently followed by consultatation on paediatrics which clearly can't continue without retention of obstetrics.

"Without these departments, it is unlikely anaesthetics would be restored fully. It also comes as the trust has reduced intensive care beds to four and is planning to lower the level of critical care to omit breathing assistance for seriously ill patients.

"A&E cannot help but be badly affected in this scenario. This is a picture of dominos crashing all over the place and Banbury being left without its essential services," said Mr Strangwood. "The OUHT's cost-cutting plans and the CCG's reductions mean all the pain is being felt in the north of the county. It is not acceptable."

A spokesman for re-elected MP Victoria Prentis said her focus at the moment was on Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group's imminent report on the public consultastion into loss of 45 medical beds, consultant maternity, special care baby unit and reductions in intensive care. The spokesman said Mrs Prentis had discussed the 'domino effect' of department losses and critical care with Dr Michael Bannon (the dean responsible for medical training placement decisions) 'at length'.

The OUHT report to the Community Partnership Network meeting of stakeholders tomorrow (Friday) says the lack of training posts at the Horton's anaesthetics department 'will not impact on service as the resident consultant anaesthetist provides the relevant cover. "In relation to the longer term the deanery has not made any decision about the posts... Maintenance of the resident consultant anaesthetist arrangements would mean that there would be no impact on service provision."

Critical care has been reduced from six to four beds offering only level two care - including support for single organ failure, post operative care and recovering level three patients.

Read the original article on the Banbury Guardian's website here.


Surgeon who couldn't find hospital parking space is fined after he "dumped car" in rush to treat patients

15 May 2017

The OUHFT has scored a spectacular own goal, taking one of their own consultants to court because he was forced to "dump" his car when unable to find a parking space due to the "dysfunctional" parking at the JR. The news comes in the same week that the car parking ticket machines were 'out of order' at the Horton General Hospital due to the inability of the machines to accept the new £1 coins.

The story was picked up by the Daily Telegraph and the Times. The Daily Telegraph reported:

"A surgeon who parked his car in a disabled bay because he couldn't find a space in time to see his patients has lost a court battle brought about by the NHS trust.

Christopher Darby, a vascular and transplant surgeon, had refused to pay the fine he was given for parking across the bay and on hatched road markings at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. He claimed the "dysfunctional" parking system left him without a space when he was needed at his clinic. He decided his only choice was to park at the site to ensure his patients were not kept waiting.

But Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH) handed him a fine for breaching parking regulations, taking him to court after he refused to fork out. Mr Darby lost his fight at the civil court and was ordered to hand over £50 for the parking charge, as well £6.18 in interest and £110 in court fees and fixed costs.

Deputy District Judge Comiskey said it was "with some regret" she found in favour of the trust, claiming Mr Darby "very probably" made the right decision morally.

Speaking at his Oxford County Court hearing on Friday, Mr Darby said: "I do feel that the trust would expect me to go and look after my patients. I did not intend to park illegally. I took the least worst option for my patients. I can't believe I'm here. I did my best on the day for my employer."

The claim was brought by OUH against the consultant after he parked illegally on October 7, 2015. During the hearing, he confessed he parked without permission at the hospital but insisted he had made a "reasonable attempt" to find a spot.

The consultant, who also works at the Churchill Hospital, drove to the area where his permit allows him to park but found the site heaving with vehicles. Double yellow and red lines had already been taken over by a cluster of vehicles and other drivers were also circling around hunting for a space, he said.

Mr Darby said: "The service on that day was not fit for purpose. I had patients waiting at the clinic. My reasonable options were to go home, which would have been ridiculous, to park illegally, or to go to the park and ride, which would have led to a delay of at least an hour. All of that time, people would have been in the outpatients' car park and making the parking situation worse, as [patients] would not have been seen. I am perfectly aware there is no guarantee of parking but I would expect a reasonable prospect of parking."

The consultant went on to reveal staff face the congested site every day, with some grabbing spots in the visitors' car park and paying extra despite having a permit. Others working at the hospital risk being handed the fines just to make it into work on time, he said.

Mr Darby, who qualified as a consultant in 1997, added: "There are many people at the trust who are parking illegally on a daily basis or being fined just for coming to their regular everyday work. On our ward, many of the nurses take a fine nearly every week between them. [OUH] breached its contract in not providing a reasonable prospect of parking on the site for which they were charging me. I feel that we shouldn't have got here and I had a reasonable appeal."

Healthwatch Oxfordshire chairman George Smith said urgent action was needed to combat the daily struggle to find a parking spot at the trust's sites. He added: "The current parking difficulties at the hospitals affect staff as much as they do patients and visitors. This is clearly a factor which affects recruitment and retention of staff, and is almost certainly contributing to the worryingly high level of job vacancies which exist at present in our acute hospital. Travel-to-work issues are very pressing, and need to be addressed in joined-up way, with hospital management, local authorities, staff, patients and visitors all involved together to find the most sensible way forward. I know that some initial steps are currently under consideration, but the present situation is unacceptable, and requires urgent, major action."

Acting on behalf of the trust, the court heard from Mr Richards, who refused to disclose his forename. Mr Darby was served with a breach of contract notice after parking at the spot and was given the chance to clear his debt on "more than one occasion", he said. He confirmed staff working for the trust had no guarantee of a parking space, revealing the consultant's appeal was thrown out by the trust before coming to court.

Judge Comiskey added: "I do accept Mr Darby's evidence that parking at the hospital is very difficult for staff members, patients and others who legitimately need to be at the hospital. However my duty is to apply the law as I understand it to be on the facts of the case."

The OUH has so far declined to comment."

Read the original article on the Daily Telegraph website.

Read the article from the Times here (behind paywall)

"Rather than hide the fact that parking at the JR is a complete nightmare, and patients are suffering extra stress and anxiety before they have entered the hospital, the OUHFT decided to take the consultant to court," commented KTHG chairman Keith Strangwood. "At a time when services are threatened at the Horton with the very real possibility that more patients from the north of the county are to be treated at the JR they have given us a free advert. I applaud Mr Darby for sticking to his principles. Something Keep the Horton General has done religiously over the years."

The incident sparked anger amongst regular users of the JR's car parks. In letters to the newspapers reporting the story, Christopher Pratt, Duncan Rayner and Patricia Proctor wrote the following letters, describing the problems as "insoluble for staff and visitors alike", stating that "on some days, there are not even any illegal places to park, let alone legal ones" and "if the downgrading goes ahead at Banbury, I am not sure how the JR will cope with all the extra traffic".

Letters to Daily Telegraph re parking problems May 2017


25th May 2017

Campaign group "Oxfordshire Keep Our NHS Public" is organizing a hustings at 7.30pm in Oxford Town Hall, St Aldate's on Thursday 25th May about the National Health Service.

Their press release states, "We are inviting the Conservative, Green, Labour, Liberal Democrat and National Health Action parties to nominate a representative to make a five-minute presentation and answer questions from the floor about the NHS.

Oxon KONP chair, Dr Ken Williamson, a former GP, will facilitate/chair the meeting. Organisations may submit questions to him in advance at knbw@me.com or on the day. Questions from other members of the public will be taken on the day."


11 May 2017

Dr Bruno Holthof, Chief Executive Officer of the Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust (OUHFT), must be wondering what else is going to land on his desk this week.

On Monday we learnt that the Trust has overspent its budget by more than £24 million in the past year. That was described as a 'rapid deterioration'.

Then came the Care Quality Commission (CQC) report from the October 2016 inspection. It concluded that significant further work is needed at the John Radcliffe A&E due to 'long patients waits, overcrowding and staffing issues'.

And on Thursday news of the previous day's OUHFT Board meeting where Members were informed that the number of attendances at A&E had rocketed by nearly an extra 100 people every day, since the figure calculated prior to the winter.

Accompanying an Oxford Mail article on the story, online, a reader commented "The JR is a dreadful place to go to A&E. If you have an accident or emergency try to go to the Horton in Banbury - they are miles better at triage than the JR".

Professor George Smith, the new chairman of Healthwatch Oxfordshire, said: "What we are seeing in the emergency department is a system stretched to the limit".

Keith Strangwood, Chairman of Keep the Horton General, observed "So, whilst the CQC was making its inspection, there were (on average) 700 less people attending the JR A&E every week than there are now. If there was 'overcrowding and long waits' back then, I wonder what on earth they would make of it now?

"All of this information in the same week that the Horton Critical Care Unit is to lose two of its six beds, because of "lack of demand". Late Tuesday morning, the tailback to get into the JR stretched back half a mile.

"When will Dr Holthof and his puzzled managers wake up to the fact that the JR can't cope? People of Oxfordshire need the services of a fully functioning General Hospital in Banbury".


The deadline to respond to the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group's consultation on the future of the Horton General Hospital has now passed. If you wrote to the OCCG - thank you.

Keep the Horton General campaign's response.

In our response, we criticise; the two-stage process, the inappropriate and untimely provision of information, the failure to involve affected groups in the development of plans, the lack of presentation of alternative options implying a "fait accompli", the inadequate time horizon, the lack of will to consider rotation of doctors, the failure to learn from the recommendations of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel less than 10 years ago, the implications for A&E, and the disparity between the claimed travel times and those collected by Victoria Prentis in her recent survey. We refute the OCCG's claim that GPs support the plans, criticise the trust's failure to recruit effectively, remind the OCCG of the lack of consultation with South Central Ambulance Service, and express our doubts about the cost analysis of the OTP.

Finally we call on the OCCG to:

  • Suspend immediately the implementation of phase one of the consultation
  • Engage with the affected population (the whole of Oxfordshire and parts of contiguous counties) in the development of alternative models of health provision to 2031, with corresponding budgets
  • Immediately implement a viable and sustainable staff rota for the whole of the OUHFT including teaching consultants
  • Enter into meaningful discussions with the professional colleges and the accrediting bodies to define a modern, sustainable education scheme across all OUHFT sites
  • Develop a rational protocol for hospital catchment areas to optimise the capital and human resources of all OUHFT establishments
  • Commit to working with all stakeholders to develop, agree and implement a plan that ensures the retention of all the services of a District General Hospital at the Horton General Hospital

You can read Keep the Horton General's full response here.

Widespread condemnation of the OCCG's proposals

The following organisations and individuals have given their permission for their responses to be published. Click on the links to read each response in full.

Oxfordshire County Council

"Cabinet were not supportive of the proposals. Full Council went further and indicated their strong opposition to the proposals and rejected the consultation".

"The rising demand for health services and lack of funding to address this is huge national issue which is being played out locally to the detriment of services for local people."

"Members felt that the consultation does not make clear the impact on social care and there is a lack of modelling to accurately assess this."

"Oxfordshire is experiencing significant housing growth and members felt that there was insufficient planning for this in the proposals."

Read Oxfordshire County Council's full response here

Victoria Prentis, MP

"This consultation is fatally flawed. It does not meet appropriate standards of engagement; it restricts patient choice; the clinical evidence base does not provide accurate statistics; and it does not have the support of local healthcare providers. The people of north Oxfordshire feel that changes are being done 'to them' rather than 'with them'. True consultation involves offering options on which the consultees can comment having seen the evidence they need to make informed choices. This is not the case here."

"Capacity at the John Radcliffe and other hospitals is a serious concern, even before projected population growth is taken into account."

"I remain convinced that the Trust could do more in their search for obstetricians by making job advertisements more appealing, involving recruitment agencies, and addressing the training accreditation issue."

"Local GPs feel that they have not been able to gauge what will be expected of them should any of the Phase One proposals be taken forward. My survey of GPs tells me that they have serious concerns and do not feel that they have been properly consulted."

Read Victoria Prentis' full response here

North Oxfordshire Locality Patient Participation Group Forum

"There is widespread concern at the two-phase Consultation, particularly as the 'Big Conversation' was largely irrelevant or even unnoticed by most members of the public".

"No-one can comprehend why Oxford-based OUH Doctors cannot work on placement rotas in the same way that, for example, Physiotherapists already do. Would this not ameliorate the clinical staffing issues, given that contractually, clinicians are appointed to work for all 4 OUHFT Hospitals, and not for any one specific Hospital?"

"Overall the responses indicate that there was little perception of any clear and easily available evidence having been provided to support the conclusions presented within the Consultation document. The late addition, albeit often difficult to find, of appendices was noted."

Read the North Oxfordshire Locality Patient Participation Group Forum's full response here

Councillor Andrew McHugh, former Horsefair Surgery Practice Manager

"...you should know that the consultation process and the proposals for maternity at HGH are opposed by at least five MPs and by all elected members of Cherwell District Council..."

"I call on you as CEO of OCCG to: Halt the stage 1 consultation process and call for a whole system consultation to occur which includes cross boundary clarity for patients; halt any further loss of hospital beds in Oxfordshire until (the process) has been completed, which should include a realistic assessment of future A&E demand; and initiate a rigorous and comprehensive appraisal of a fully integrated JHR and HGH obstetric service to develop a world class integrated two site training regime"

Read Andrew McHugh's full response here

Roseanne Edwards, health journalist

"I have been reporting for the Banbury Guardian on repeated threats to the continuation of acute services at the Horton General Hospital for 25 years. On each occasion those services have been saved for all the reasons that they should be protected now - distance to the John Radcliffe Hospital, excessive travel time, speedy access to specialist care for general acute conditions and growing population."

"General Practice is in meltdown. Two surgeries closed in Banbury in 2016 and Bicester has lost at least one surgery.....The outlook for general practice is dire with a many GPs due to retire within five years. Those remaining are at breaking point through increased business administration and no increase in the £136-£147 per year patient, unchanged for a decade...In spite of the yawning gap in GP provision, it is being made the bedrock of this plan with 'acute hospital at home' limited to a maximum of two weeks with care being handed to primary care at that point. But yet again the consideration of this will be in Phase Two. That renders this OTP consultation invalid, as does the entire split consultation."

The document claims that "irrespective of the numbers of births, OUHFT would not have enough doctors to staff the [Horton's obstetric] unit. This makes it unsafe for current and future demand and an unviable option for the future." This is absolutely unproven and is totally counter to the claim that the Trust has made, since July 2016, that it is committed to retaining a consultant-led unit (CLU) at the Horton. What the c50 applications received for the advertised nine posts (now deemed necessary to run the CLU safely) does demonstrate is that doctors really do want to live and work in Banbury - even during the threat of downgrade to the hospital."

The Thames Valley Strategic Clinical Network Review's analysis said there will be an 8% increase in births in the next decade. (p72) This includes assumptions about housing growth but the plan deliberately omits Banbury as one of the rapidly growing housing areas in the PCBC appraisal of major development..... The review said Oxfordshire is 'at capacity' in delivering 6,000 women in its CLUs and 'work is needed to increase capacity'. The PCBC calculates Oxfordshire's expected births at c8,500. While Midwife only units (MLUs) are to be considered in Phase 2 of the OTP, it is clear this number cannot be managed at the JR which is bursting at the seams with its current c6,000 births. Sharing the 8,500 between the JR and the Horton makes absolute sense as it would allow the Banbury hospital to regain training accreditation - and thus have no problem staffing the unit - and ease pressure at the JR."

Read Roseanne Edwards' full response, including appendices, here

Banbury Guardian

"Many residents in villages received no information whatsoever about the plan or the consultation. Indeed in rural public meetings held by the Banbury Guardian the overwhelming number of attendees knew nothing about it - even up to a fortnight before the end of consultation."

"OCCG's consultation is being done in two phases, yet asking for views on phase 1 depends on what is proposed in Phase 2. It includes desired outcomes already put in place yet DOH consultation guidance forbids such 'done deals'."

"Consultation in S Northants and S Warwickshire - areas covered by this newspaper - has been dire, considering these patients form one third of the Horton catchment. These patients stand to have to make equally unacceptable journeys to their county town hospitals, destroying the traditional Banbury-facing community this area has enjoyed for many generations."

"The key to the OTP is hugely reinforced primary care (GPs, surgery nurses, visiting carers, phsysiotherapists/occupational therapists etc) taking responsibility for those who might otherwise have been treated in hospital. However the National Audit Office report of January 2017 says the proposed Care at Home Plan does not cost less but more and hospital admissions did not decline, they increased. The Pre Consultation Business Case says savings to the OUHFT of ending 'bed blocking by closing beds' is £1.7m but at a cost of £2.5m to the private sector for care beds. So the NHS incurs a cost of £800,000, patients lose hospital care and acute nursing/medical jobs are lost."

"The Oxfordshire Transformation Plan highlights bringing more patients to the Horton and saving travel to Oxford. It makes equal sense for the few specialist doctors to be based in an obstetric unit in Banbury than many hundreds of mothers going to the JR. An increase in complex pregnancies highlights the need for more obstetric units, not fewer, giant ones".

"OUHFT claims that CLUs experiencing fewer than 2500 births a year are unsafe because training doctors do not see a sufficient number or variety of complex cases to maintain their skill and experience. This attitude isn't shared on the continent: eg In Germany most obstetric units experience far fewer than 2500 births per year - the threshold for training accreditation at a British unit. The average number of births in German hospitals is 900 a year; 2500 births+ is a very large unit and 6000 births would be considered folly."

Read the Banbury Guardian's full response, including appendices, here

Keep Our NHS Public, campaign group

"We expose (the consultation's) assumptions, lack of clarity, lack of sound evidence, and absence of financial detail. Although it is entirely based on an interdependency of Health and Social Care, it does not include any evidence or future planning for Social Care, in the contents of either Phase 1 or Phase 2."

"We think that this Phase I document can only be properly understood and debated in the context of the 'whole system' STP footprint plan. We observe that it is one sixth of the plan for the full BOB footprint. We also note that though it is headed 'Health and Care', it does not contain the Care element, despite the proposals' high dependency on the success of the Care element."

"We note that the business case had to satisfy four tests before NHS England would accept it, and that the final draft and addenda had been to and from NHSE more than once. The four tests are:

  • Test One: Strong public and patient engagement
  • Test Two: Consistency with current and prospective need for patient choice
  • Test Three: A clear clinical evidence base; and
  • Test Four: Support for proposals from clinical commissioners.

We are not convinced that the OTP passes any of these."

"The CCG should assess the impact of financial pressures on Social Care in Oxfordshire. Meanwhile, the Phase 1 consultation should be halted until such time as an assessment has been carried out and published and the holes in the programme referred to above have been filled in. Phase 1 of the Oxfordshire Transformation Programme fails on all four counts demanded by NHS England and will deliver only cuts and confusion for the people of Oxfordshire. We deserve better."

Read Keep Our NHS Public's full response here

Bloxham Parish Council

"Bloxham Parish Council highlights the following flaws in the current STP Consultation:-

  1. It does not show a strong evidence base for the assumptions. underlying the proposed changes.
  2. It should be a composite of all possible options showing clearly their benefits in terms of patient health and well being.
  3. It should take note of the recommendation made by The Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) as stated in its 2008 recommendation for retention of the Horton General's acute services, notably that Oxford is too distant for expectant mothers to travel for Obstetric delivery.
  4. It should reflect that, in recent years there has been a substantial increase in North Oxfordshire populations and Banbury is now scheduled for further housing growth circa 30,000 new homes.
  5. In consequence, Banbury to Oxford, journey times and traffic congestion have increased, and will increase further in the period to 2031."

Read Bloxham Parish Council's full response here

Milcombe Parish Council

"In particular we feel the need to bring to your attention once again the downgrading of the HGH Maternity Services and the dangers of transporting patients (mothers and babies - born and unborn) on a lengthy, uncomfortable and frightening journey to the JR at Oxford where anything could happen with regard to hold-ups en route."

Read Milcombe Parish Council's full response here

Want your letter to be part of the permanent record?

If you would like your letter (or that of the organisation you represent) to be published on KTHG's website, please send a copy of your consultation response, with the words "consultation response for publication" in the subject line, to keepthehortongeneral@hotmail.co.uk .

Please ensure that your personal address is redacted or removed before sending your letter to us, as we cannot guarantee that we will have the resources to do this on your behalf.

If you hold an office that would make your letter of particular public interest, please refer to this in your email. Thank you!


KTHG ask local people how they feel about the downgrade

2 April 2017

Ahead of the closing date for the first 'consultation', Keep the Horton General (KTHG) manned a stall in Banbury market place on Saturday 2 April. It was a last-chance attempt to engage with local residents about the Oxford Clinical Commissioning Group's (OCCG) plans for the future of the Horton General Hospital.

Hearing about the opportunity via news and social media, some people travelled to Banbury solely to make their voices heard at our stall. People from South Warwickshire, who have not been consulted, wanted to have their say.

Responding to allegations from the OCCG, and their paid representatives market research firm Qa, KTHG Chairman Keith Strangwood said, "Nothing that members of Keep the Horton General (and their supporters) did today was confrontational or intimidating. We have been accused by OCCG and their paid representatives (Qa - rewarded with £8,000 to conduct a market research survey in Banbury) of heavy handed tactics".

"I am delighted to say that between 9am and 3pm, 203 people engaged with us and signed letters to David Smith (CEO, OCCG) pleading that services commensurate with a District General Hospital remain in Banbury. That compares with 160 responses gleaned by Qa, over three days, which was accompanied by the reward of a lottery ticket for taking part".

You've only got til 9 April to have your say. If you're stuck for words, why not download our template letter here.


Local councils and KTHG unite to mount legal challenge

30 March 2017

Keep the Horton General (KTHG) has campaigned tirelessly to retain full services at the Horton General Hospital.

In 2008 the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) decreed that it did "not support the ORH's proposals to reconfigure services in paediatrics, obstetrics, gynaecology and the special care baby unit at Horton hospital". So when the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) presented the same set of proposals in 2016 (that would have far reaching effects on all other services) KTHG and its loyal band of followers sprang into action to fund a legal challenge.

We have been very cautious about "showing our cards" but we can now announce that, in partnership with Cherwell District Council, South Northamptonshire, Stratford-on-Avon District and Banbury Town Councils, KTHG is mounting a legal challenge in opposition to the draconian plans for our District General Hospital.

Keith Strangwood, KTHG Chairman, said "I am relieved to be able to tell the world what we are doing. We had been advised by our legal advisors to keep our plans under wraps. Now we can formally say - the gloves are off. KTHG will fight every inch of the way to keep full services at our beloved Horton hospital".

Want to donate to help fund our legal challenge? See our fundraising page for our bank details. Thank you!

Keith Strangwood outside Horton General Hospital



Deadline - 9 April 2017

In a hurry?

  • You need to respond to the OCCG's consultation by 9 April 2017
  • The OCCG's survey leads you to accidentally support the Horton downgrade
  • We'd like you to write instead
  • Here's a template letter you can use: download the template letter here.

Want the detail?

The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group has issued several lengthy consultation documents about its downgrade plans for the Horton General Hospital. The consultation documents and response survey for Phase 1 (of 2) are available from the OCCG's website. There is an 84-page summary document, a 238-page Pre-Consultation Business Case, and a 144-page Horton Strategic Report. None of the important appendices are provided for public reading.

The OCCG prefers people to respond via their survey on their website. The survey guides you through a series of questions that, without the benefit of a great deal of behind-the-scenes knowledge, and great care, will result in you inadvertently supporting the downgrade of the Horton General Hospital!

Keep the Horton General, Oxfordshire County Council and three district councils all believe that, by splitting the consultation into two phases, the consulation process is fatally flawed. It is impossible to consult on Phase One without further information of what is in Phase Two. This means we are being asked to comment on matters that are not clearly defined, using information that is non-existent. Therefore we are recommending two things:

  • At this stage it's wiser to ignore the questionnaire on the OCCG's website. Not only does the split format make the questions meaningless, but also the questionnaire itself is dishonestly worded and our responses could be interpreted as supportive of a downgrade.
  • Instead of answering these skewed questions, we recommend you to write directly to the OCCG, setting out your views in a way that can't be misrepresented.

To help you write to the OCCG, we've written a template letter. You can use it as a short guide when writing your own, or you can copy it and use it as your own email or letter.

Download the template letter here.

We've also written a series of longer guides which, if you've interested, will help you interpret the consultation document. The KTHG Guide consists of longer 'chapters' on the major consultation elements to show where the deficiencies are in the plan and give you evidence you may wish to add to your own response.

You can download them here; but remember, you can use the template letter as a quick shortcut instead if you like.

If you need any further help or would like to make any useful suggestions, please contact us at keepthehortongeneral@hotmail.co.uk



Following the successful trial of our STP education meeting, Keep the Horton General and Banbury Guardian health journalist Roseanne Edwards are looking for more opportunities to inform local people about the Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) and their impact on the NHS.

Why not invite us to come and speak to your community or workplace? All we need is a hall, and help to get the word out.

Meetings arranged so far include:

  • Magdalen School Hall, Brackley- cross-party public meeting, 30th January
  • Shenington Village Hall, February 2nd
  • Mollington, February 21st
  • Hornton village Hall, February 23
  • St Mary's Church, Banbury - March 2nd
  • Cropredy, March 6th
  • Sibford Village Hall, 7.30pm Tuesday March 14
  • Bloxham / Milcombe, March 23rd

Keep the Horton General chairman, Keith Strangwood, said "For years our group has been at the forefront of the battle to maintain full services at the Horton. It is absolutely vital that the public understand the ramifications of STP and how they will destroy the NHS as we know it. We urge all communities to hold events like this as soon as possible. Time really is of the essence".

To arrange a meeting contact:

Keith Strangwood on 07740 599736
Roseanne Edwards at roseanne_edwards@journalist.com

community meeting, feb 17



Campaign group "Doctors for the NHS" speaks out

30 March 2017

Following on from the revelation, in mid March, that the OCCG had hired market research firm Qa to conduct questionable research in Banbury's town centre, campaign group Doctors for the NHS has gone one further, alerting its members to watch out for "pollster fraud".

In their email to members, dated 30 March 2017, the group writes:

"Pollster Fraud to Bolster STP Chances?

There have been reports, in Oxfordshire, that groups of 'market researchers' are being drafted in by polling firms to approach the public with a list of questions relating to their areas's health service, at the CCG's expense. The company responsible was QA Research Ltd.

This has all the hallmarks of biased sampling, with pollsters reportedly filling in responses themselves in a way that was highly 'pro' what was being asked about (hence supporting the CCG's pre-formed views about the STP), while understanding very little themselves about local health issues, having being drafted in (and put up in local accommodation) from outside the region. There was also evidence that these 'researchers' were working to a target, with little interest in gaining replies other than the number they could tick off.

This is a travesty of public consultation and it is feared that it will be used to claim that 'the public have been consulted' about plans affecting health services in their area.

Could you please let is know (via healthjournos@gmail.com) if you know of this happening in your area? If it is widespread that will have significant consequences for the way STPs are continuing to be developed without meaningful, open consultation."

A Keep the Horton General spokesperson commented: "We know many readers of our website, and subscribers to our email service, are campaigners from other areas - please be on the alert for dodgy practices in your area and let Doctors for the NHS know if you see anything suspicious in your area"


Average travel time far exceeds that stated in OCCG documents

27 March 2017

Victoria Prentis, MP for North Oxfordshire, has issued a press release detailing the results of her long-running survey into travel times between the Banbury area and the JR.

In her press release, Victoria reveals that she received 377 individual completed surveys. The data shows it takes, on average, 1 hour and 20 minutes to travel from the Banbury area to an Oxford hospital, and a further 20 minutes to park. The average patient travelling from the Banbury area will therefore enter a hospital in Oxford approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes after leaving their point of departure.

In sharp contrast, the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) maintains that the average journey time from Banbury to Oxford is just 45 minutes.

Commenting on the data, Victoria said, "It came as no surprise to discover that the average journey time from my constituency to the Oxford hospitals, including parking, is over an hour and a half. The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) maintains that the average journey time from Banbury to Oxford is 45 minutes. The data I have collected show this to not be the case.

"The majority of my constituents live within 10 miles of the Horton General Hospital - a much-loved, well-regarded and easy to access hospital. The Oxford hospitals are not easily accessible for the people of North Oxfordshire. It is vital that the OCCG take this into account when making any decisions about the future of NHS services in the county."

Key points included:

  • Responses were received from addresses in north Oxfordshire, south Northamptonshire and south Warwickshire
  • The furthest distance travelled was 43.4 miles
  • The time of day appears to have little impact on the total journey time. Journeys into Oxford taken between 6am and 9am appear to take slightly longer than those taken between 9am and noon or noon and 6pm. The data demonstrates the unpredictability of the journey, regardless of the time of day.
  • Times varied greatly due to the variety of distance and mode of travel - the average was 1 hour and 20 minutes
  • Only 22% of respondents were able to find a parking space within 5 minutes of arrival
  • 20% of respondents took between 30 and 60 minutes to park
  • A shocking 4% of respondents had to wait more than 60 minutes to find a parking space
  • The average time to find a parking space was 20 minutes
  • 80% of respondents used a private car for the entire journey
  • 9% used public transport for the entire journey
  • The longest journey, by public transport, took 4 hours and 10 minutes

You can read Victoria's press release, in full here.

Victoria Prentis speaking at a Horton rally in July 2016

Victoria Prentis speaking at a Horton rally in July 2016. Credit: Peter Evan Jones


Alan Johnson offers message of support via local Labour Party

27 March 2017

The Rt Hon Alan Johnson, former Secretary of State for Health, who saved the Horton General Hospital's acute services in 2008 has said he believes nothing has changed and Banbury continues to need the same services in the same place.

In a message sent to Banbury, via the local Labour Party, he said: "I'm afraid I won't be able to visit the area but I offer the following message of support:

"As Health Secretary on the last occasion when an attempt was made to downgrade maternity services at Horton, I referred the issue to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) which was clinically led and whose report in March 2008 recommended that the Horton General Hospital must continue to serve the local community in North Oxfordshire, and that the local Trust's proposals failed to provide an accessible or improved service for local people.

"I completely accepted the view of this expert Panel - that the local community's access to services would be seriously compromised if the Trust's proposals were implemented.

"Far from closing down or downgrading any of these services, I supported the IRP's recommendation that the then PCT and the ORH Trust carry out further work to set out the arrangements necessary to retain and develop them.

The former Health Secretary concluded with the message, "Good luck with the campaign."

Former Health Secretary Alan Johnson

Image: Alan Johnson, http://www.alanjohnson.org


Mum Sophie speaks to Oxfordshire Guardian in fight for doctor-led maternity

23 March 2017

"Mum allows birth horror story to be used in Horton campaign", reports Sam McGregor in the Oxfordshire Guardian, 23 March 2017.

A mum is using her story to help campaigners fight to retain doctor-led maternity services at a Banbury hospital.

In a one-minute YouTube video "Clementine's Story", Sophie Hammond tells how her low risk pregnancy very quickly turned into a life or death situation. She has allowed group Keep the Horton General to use her story to support their campaign.

Oxford University NHS Foundation Trust (OUHFT) suspended services last October over concerns about patient safety after problems recruiting "middle-grade" doctors at the hospital. Nine middle-grade doctors should be in post to run the service safely, but so far the trust has not recruited enough staff. The suspension has remained in place following two successive quarterly reviews.

In the video Sophie, who lives in Bodicote, said: "I had a healthy low risk pregnancy and a straightforward labour. However, after Clemmie was delivered things went badly wrong.

"I tore a major blood vessel and lost two litres of blood in the space of five minutes. I was rushed into theatre to be stitched up and to have a blood transfusion.

"A consultant said at the time if it hadn't been for the swift action of the team and the presence of doctors on site he dreaded to think what the outcome would have been. If I'd had to go to Oxford I'm almost certain I would have died in the back of an ambulance. We all need the full services at our local hospital."

KTHG chairman Keith Strangwood said he hoped the video would help people "understand the reality of the cynical downgrading of HGH"

He said: "This has been systematic and continuous since the Independent Reconfiguration Panel decreed in 2008 that the OUH should "change to ensure its service remain appropriate, safe and sustainable" as far as the Horton was concerned.

"We urge people to write to the OCCG without delay and tell them why we must have a consultant led unit at the Horton."

Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group launched a major consultation in January that will take place in two stages. Among the proposals are fewer inpatient beds, a central stroke unit in Oxford and a permanent midwife-led unit at Banbury's Horton Hospital.

You can watch "Clementine's story" on YouTube here.

Sophie Hammond and baby Clemmie, Oxfordshire Guardian 23 March 2017

Image: Sophie Hammond and baby Clemmie, Oxfordshire Guardian, 23 March 2017.



Making the case for a full obstetric led maternity service in Banbury

Keep the Horton General (KTHG) filmed this powerful video last summer. At the time, we resisted releasing it as we didn't want to jeopardise the chances of the midwife-led unit at the Horton General Hospital succeeding.

Now, with the deadline for consultation responses fast approaching, and the unit deliberately run down, the gloves are off.

We want the public to understand the reality of the cynical downgrading of the the Horton General Hospital - and we want YOU to take action.

Clementine's story - when a 'safe' delivery goes wrong. Making the case for a full obstetric led maternity service in Banbury

As we feared, the Oxford University Hospitals Trust (OUHFT) has left the midwife-led unit to founder. Numbers have tumbled from 120 births per month to just 12 per month because of the lack of on-site consultants; and of the women who begin their labour at the Horton General Hospital, far too many are being transferred to the JR mid-labour due to complications.

The cynical downgrading of the the Horton General Hospital has been systematic and continuous since the Independent Reconfiguration Panel decreed in 2008 that the OUH should "change to ensure its service remain appropriate, safe and sustainable" as far as the Horton was concerned.

It will leave our mothers and babies at risk; and there will be even more cuts to come in Phase 2.

So can you spare just one minute to watch Clementine's story?

Then, for the safety of mothers yet to labour, and babies yet to be born, write to the OCCG without delay and tell them why we MUST have a consultant-led unit at the Horton General Hospital.

Follow this link or click the image above to watch Clementine's story on YouTube

Then see Key Action No.1 above, or download our template letter here.

This is the MOST IMPORTANT THING you can do right now. If you want the Horton to remain a fully operational General Hospital, and not just a glorified clinic - please do this now.


17 March 2017

We'd like to say a big thank you. There's an army of people out there, and we're all fighting for a common cause.

You've probably received a letter through your door recently explaining the threats to the Horton General Hospital, and asking you to write to the OCCG to help influence them. This is part of our efforts to reach people who don't yet know there's a threat - people who haven't subscribed for updates, or who don't read the local papers, or who aren't on Facebook or Twitter. This massive leaflet drop wouldn't have been possible without the support of dozens of volunteers who turned out night after night to deliver them - thank you to all of you.

Please help us reach as many people as possible by talking to people at your workplace, school, place of worship, or your friends. The more support we get, the better our chances.

Thank you also to our long-time supporters who help with printing, graphics, positioning our banners, fundraising, arranging events, arranging coaches, publicising our news in the papers and the radio, running our social media, keeping track of our finances and the many, many other jobs that need doing to run a successful campaign.

And thank you for your support - please give us just a little bit more and write that letter to the OCCG - cut off is Sunday April 9th!


CCG engage market research firm to ask loaded questions - in return for a lottery ticket

12 March 2017

Campaigners are asking today, whether coercion, via a lottery ticket, is a reasonable use of public funds?

A vigilant Keep the Horton General (KTHG) campaigner alerted us to the presence of a 'market research' team interviewing people on 10 & 11 March in Banbury's Town Hall area.

It appears that Qa Research Ltd, a market research company from York, has been appointed by Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) to hijack targeted individuals to answer its skewed questionnaire. On Friday it was pensioners and on Saturday it was "16-24 year olds, preferably disabled ethnics"!

KTHG members volunteered to answer but were denied. The interviewers were ill-informed and, incorrectly, said they were working on behalf of the County Council. They would not allow the people being questioned to fill in their own forms. If an individual said 'that service does not apply to me' the questioner replied "that will be a no then"!

Chairman of KTHG, Keith Strangwood, intervened during Saturday's session, at which point the Qa team sought refuge in the Town Hall and subsequently exited through a cellar door.

"What has happened in Banbury is a travesty. Local people, keen supporters of their local hospital, have been duped. They were led to believe that they were answering questions on behalf of the Horton General Hospital when quite the opposite was true," he said.

Market research firm Qa canvasses a small selection of local opinion outside Banbury Town Hall, 10 and 11 March 2017

Photo - Banbury Guardian

The Banbury Guardian subsequently reported that Banbury MP Victoria Prentis has added to Horton campaigners' criticism of a market research scheme giving out lottery tickets in return for completing a survey about downgrading the hospital.

Mrs Prentis this week described handing Health Lottery tickets to respondents "extremely concerning" writes Roseanne Edwards in the Banbury Guardian, 15 March 2017.

The article continues, "Keep the Horton General (KTHG) members were called to Banbury Town Hall on Friday and Saturday as canvassers from a company called Qa Research asked members of the public who were young, disabled or from ethnic minorities to fill in a questionnaire. The campaigners say they witnessed researchers filling in forms for people, asking them to sign the forms and giving them an NHS lottery ticket in return.

KTHG member Val Ingram said researchers seemed uninformed and told campaigners they believed they were helping to save the Horton. "I asked their leader who they were working for and she told me the county council. I had to point out that OCCG was Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG), not the county council. One of the interviewers told us that they were saving the Horton. And one researcher asked a respondent whether we didn't want a "bigger and better hospital". They clearly had no real information about the downgrade and the effect it would have on Banbury." (said Mrs Ingram)

Campaigner Kev Preedy said: "I heard one of the men saying he wasn't interested in maternity and the interviewer said "Oh, I'll put you agree with that then"."

Chrissie Ansell, also a KTHG member, said: "One gentleman told the interviewer how he wanted to help save the Horton and what a great man George Parish was. He then realised he was making a mistake and said the questionnaire didn't really apply to him as he lives 25 miles away. But he did sign the questionnaire."

OCCG, which is consulting on permanent removal of consultant-led maternity, scaling back intensive care and closing medical and trauma beds, said it had employed Qa Research to help get involvement of the whole community.

Speaking to the Banbury Guardian, an OCCG representative said, "The CCG has commissioned Qa Research to support the consultation. We know there will be some sections of the community that might be missed and this is a concern shared by the local MP and is why Qa Research is involved. We are concerned to ensure we have heard the views of young people, disabled people and ethnic minorities who might be affected by the proposals. Qa Research has considerable experience and expertise in this area and has previously worked in Banbury town centre. They are offering a single Health Lottery ticket (worth £1) as a thank you to anyone prepared to complete the survey and this is a common and acceptable practice.

"The researchers are equipped with consultation documents to support their conversations. They are trained for this type of work and are all clear that they are conducting this work on behalf of the local NHS."

Mrs Prentis said: "At no point have I suggested that (reaching under-represented sections of the community) should be done by instructing a private company to stand in the middle of Banbury High Street and specifically target people between 16 - 24 years old, ethnic minorities or those with a disability, while turning away other willing participants. Reports that those who did take part were offered Health Lottery tickets as an incentive are extremely concerning."

Keith Strangwood, chairman of KTHG, said: "The CCG may call this an incentive, we could call it a bribe. You have to know what is really in the 500-page plan to take £200m out of Oxfordshire's health system to realise that the questions in this survey are completely loaded towards agreeing to the Horton becoming a day care centre and centralising all our essential acute services at the JR. The difficulty for us has been letting everyone in Banburyshire know the truth as we don't have the millions the CCG is spending on getting the end result it is after."

Read the original article in the Banbury Guardian here.


Warning from Conservative head of Commons Health Committee

4 March 2017

NHS reforms will "fail" and patient safety put at risk without an emergency rescue in next week's Budget, the Conservative head of the Commons Health Committee has warned. Source - the Independent, 4 March 2017.

In an interview with The Independent, Dr Sarah Wollaston urged Chancellor Philip Hammond to change course - or watch the "suffering" public turn against the Government's running of the health service.

Dr Sarah Wollaston, Head of Commons Health Committee and former GP
Image: PA / Independent

Dr Wollaston criticised claims that the NHS is "on a sustainable footing", insisting that was simply not true because spending was failing to keep pace with soaring demand. And she said it was vital the Chancellor - when delivering his Budget on Wednesday - finds extra funds for both adult social care and local NHS renewal plans, across the country.

The Sustainability and Transformation plans (STPs) are meant to allow health chiefs to shift treatments to more modern community facilities, potentially closing expensive, outdated buildings. But Dr Wollaston said: "They don't have the money to make the transformations before they make the cuts, and that is undermining them before they get going. That unrealistic funding, together with an unrealistic timetable, means they look like they are implementing cuts, which means they will then lose public support. If we do not have the funding to put in place the transformation of services, we will see these plans fail."

Ahead of the Budget, the former GP urged Mr Hammond to:

  • Stop raiding capital budgets to pay for-day-to-day NHS spending - the reason why the STPs are starved of funds
  • Put extra funds into social care, after moves in the autumn to allow local councils to raise extra money were widely criticised as inadequate
  • Ensure that funding is genuinely "new money", rather than another transfer from within the NHS
  • End the cuts to Public Health England and to Health Education England, warning they were another "false economy"

Dr Wollaston described the NHS as being in the middle of a "perfect storm" of rising waiting times in A&E, patients unable to leave hospital and other patients on trolleys unable to be transferred in.

"Hospitals can't admit on to wards, so they cancel routine procedures which are their funding base and end up in spiral of decline, with patients suffering," she said. "Bed occupancy rates are at unsustainable levels and we are hearing stories of not only routine, but urgent, surgery being cancelled. There have been two cases in which urgent neurological procedures did not take place, resulting in the deaths of two patients, which is extremely serious."

Dr Wollaston has become an influential and independent voice at Westminster, emphasising her real-world experience and determination not to become "a tribal politician".

She has clashed with Theresa May over the latter's claim to have injected an extra £10bn into the NHS - a figure Dr Wollaston described as "artificial", partly because it obscured cuts to wider health budgets.

Hospital trusts are on course for a financial deficit of up to £850m at the end of the financial year, she pointed out. Also, local clinical commission groups (CCGs) are being forced to hold back £800m to prevent an even bigger black hole at hospitals. "Again, this is patient care that is being cut back," Dr Wollaston said.

The select committee chair said she was "quite optimistic" that the Chancellor would inject money into social care, where there is huge political pressure. But on Friday the NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said he was not expecting Mr Hammond to end the damaging transfers from capital to revenue budgets.

Last week, MPs voted through £1.2bn to prop up revenue spending - which Dr Wollaston described as "an unsustainable position".

"This is not allowed, yet this is the third year we have done this," she said. "Repairs are being put off, shunted down the stream, and the wonderful new community facilities promised are not happening. It is only those facilities that allow the closure of beds, so the public are not seeing the positives of what should happen - they are just seeing a picture of cuts." Read the original article in the Independent, here.


UK's biggest-ever health protest

4 March 2017

Organisers say close to 250,000 people marched in London on 4 March 2017, making this the UK's biggest ever health-related protest. Horton General Hospital supporters joined campaigners from across the country, brought together by local campaigns and unions to fight the destruction of the NHS.

Screenshot of crowds, ITV news

Screenshot of crowds marching into Parliament Square, ITV news, 4 March 2017.

Horton supporters marching

Horton General Hospital / NHS supporters marching in the UK's largest-ever NHS protest, 4 March 2017.

Horton supporters

Horton General Hospital / NHS supporters at the UK's largest-ever NHS protest, 4 March 2017.

ITV News' coverage was good, with a slot several minutes long on ITV news. An extract from the coverage can be seen on the ITV news website here.

ITV news video NHS protest 4 March 2017

Probably the best coverage came from German broadcaster Tagesschau, with several minutes of coverage showing the extent of the crowds, interviews with several protesters and NHS staff.

Unfortunately, the BBC and national press gave very little television coverage of this massive event. Millions of people across the country remain unaware of one of the most significant protests in recent years; unaware that the NHS is being destroyed before their very eyes. The BBC reported this on their website: "NHS protest: Tens of thousands march against 'hospital cuts'". The article includes a video of thousands of people filling Parliament Square.

The event trended on twitter with the hashtag #OurNHS.


Thursday 2 March 2017, 7.30pm to 9.00pm

In response to the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group's heavily biased Consultation Events, Keep the Horton General ran its own Awareness Event at St Mary's Church, Banbury, on Thursday 2nd March. The panel included health professionals and local campaigners.

Campaigners explained how national changes threaten the Horton General Hospital, and offered guidance as to how YOU can most effectively respond to the OCCG's current round of public consultation.

The panel consisted of:

  • Youssef El-Gingihy, national campaigner, GP and health issues author
  • Dr Peter Fisher, retired Horton consultant
  • Dr Hugh Gillies, Banbury GP
  • Roseanne Edwards, Banbury Guardian health correspondent

KTHG Chairman Keith Strangwood chaired the event.

If you have any questions or would like to book our speakers to talk in your community, please contact keepthehortongeneral@hotmail.co.uk or phone Keith on 07740 599736.


County puts block on health plan for Horton

21 February 2017

County councillors have today refused to back the plan that would see the downgrading of the Horton General Hospital, reports the Banbury Guardian on 21 February 2017.

Members of Oxfordshire County Council's cabinet accepted recommendations to reject the Oxfordshire Transformation Plan - which feeds into the controversial regional Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) - in its current form.

They said it was impossible to consider proposals to permanently end consultant-led maternity and close scores of hospital beds because the splitting of the consultation meant the knock-on effects would not be highlighted until the second phase in the autumn. This information would be necessary for the county council to gauge what the impact would be on council services.

"The lack of information about community services and general practice services means that the impact on council services cannot be accurately quantified," council officers reported.

They said population growth had not been fully considered leaving adequate future provision in doubt.

"The proposals to reduce hospital bed numbers permanently at this scale seem premature without being specific about strengthened community services needed and it is suggested a 'wait and see' policy is adopted pending national evaluation of similar schemes.

"The document does not give a sufficiently comprehensive vision for the future of services at the Horton Hospital and in particular to maternity services so, again, it is not possible to draw firm conclusions about the future overall 'shape' of the Horton or the impact on council services in the north of the county from the information presented," said the report.

The full report in the Banbury Guardian's print version continues;

Councillors voted to back a recommendation that they: "Welcome the opportunity to comment on this consultation, acknowledge the difficulties faced by NHS services locally as presented in the OCCG's case for change, but on balance not to support the proposals based on the lack of information on the impact on council services and that of the public."

A spokesperson for Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, which is driving the transformation plan, said: "The CCG is currently seeking people's views and opinions on the plans for transformation of health services in Oxfordshire.

"Our consultation will listen to feedback from everyone who gets involved, including cabinet members and Oxfordshire County Council."

Kieron Mallon, county councillor for Bloxham and Easington, said: "This is another step in the ongoing fight to protect services in the north of the county. As councillors in Banbury we have put pressure on all three tiers of government. Cherwell has been working very closely on this so it is great to see the county council is weighing in behind us."

Tuesday's decision will go back before councillors on the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the full council in March for further comment.

Read the original article on the Banbury Guardian's website


Ambulance service should have helped shape Horton plan, says campaign

21 February 2017

Campaigners have expressed shock that the overstretched ambulance service has not been central to formation of plans that could see huge increases in their work, reports the Banbury Guardian on 21 February 2017.

Keep the Horton General chairman Keith Strangwood said plans to end acute services in Banbury and transfer patients to Oxford will mean a vast increase in demand for South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) and crews. He said SCAS should have been involved in creating the plan from the start to ensure it was safe and workable.

The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG), whose Oxfordshire Transformation Plan aims to end the Horton's acute provision, said it was involved in 'developing plans' for after consultation.

SCAS said it had not written a formal response but was 'contributing to the feedback'.

Mr Strangwood said: "They are asking the public to make written submissions on their views about loss of all our acute services at the Horton. Why have they not got written confirmation from SCAS that they will be able to manage the huge increase in their workload?

"Their plans rely on SCAS being 100 per cent behind it and able to take on the work. People having strokes and heart attacks need to get to Oxford quickly but if the full downgrading goes ahead there will be a lot of A&E patients, mothers in labour, sick children and elderly trauma and illness cases to be taken there.

"There is nothing in the consultation document about whether the ambulance service can deal with their plans. We must know the truth before decisions are taken," said Mr Strangwood. "Last summer Unison said SCAS were looking for 250 paramedics. Its recruitment page is trying to recruit ambulance staff internationally there is such a shortage across the UK."

Michelle Archer of SCAS said: "The plans are under consultation and... we have contributed in conversations and general engagement to that process. We have not formulated a written response... as we are involved in other ways.

"As this is a consultation about potential plans it is still under consultation so to make predictions about how this could affect our service and speculate about the impact would not be appropriate."

An OCCG spokesman said: "SCAS is working with the OCCG and the Oxford University Hospitals in developing plans for managing the potential impact of any permanent changes made after consultation. The changes for stroke and critical care would affect a relatively small number of patients with two to three additional ambulance journeys to Oxford each week. The temporary changes to maternity are currently being managed and monitored and SCAS is supporting these arrangements."

UNISON South East regional spokesperson Sarah O'Donoghue said: "South Central Ambulance Service is trying hard to fill staffing gaps. But it's an uphill struggle with too many (ambulance) trusts competing for too few qualified staff without proper funding. Trusts across the country are facing the same challenges.

"Ambulance workers are under intolerable pressures because there aren't enough qualified staff. On top of that, there are too few hospital beds. So it's no wonder many are quitting for better paid, less stressful jobs. Downgrading the Horton will only add to the strain. Ambulances will have to travel further on difficult roads to take critically ill patients to hospital. This could lead to delays and put lives at risk."

Read the original article on the Banbury Guardian website.


BMA South Central Chair says STP plans "paint a very worrying picture"

23 February 2017

"A BMA investigation into the cost of funding Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) paint a very worrying picture with at least £9.5 billion needed in capital funding across the country to successfully deliver the plans," writes BMA South Central Chair, Ian McNab, in a letter to the Banbury Guardian, 23 February 2017.

"Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West told NHS England that they would need a £150m in capital funding in order to deliver their 'transformation' plans," he writes. "This is on top of millions of pounds also needed for a backlog of other repair work. With NHS budgets already severely strained, funding from capital budgets is often diverted to prop up day-to-day running costs in the NHS. The reality of what is needed to implement the 'transformation' plans is unachievable unless the government urgently provides the long-term investment desperately needed.

"The NHS and social care system is at breaking point and the STP process should be an opportunity to deal with some of the problems the system faces. However the STP process has thus far been carried out largely behind closed doors, without adequate consultation and input from patients and front line clinicians.

"The plans risk becoming completely unworkable, but do reveal a health service that is unsustainable without further investment, and with little capacity to 'transform' services in any meaningful positive way- other than by drastic reductions in NHS services."


DirtyJackDC and Til Dawn raise £1000 for Horton Fighting Funds

17 February 2017

A storming gig by popular Banbury bands DirtyJackDC and Til Dawn has helped to raise an healthy £1,000 for the Horton Hospital Fighting Fund, reports the Banbury Guardian's print edition on 23 February 2017.

The concert was held at the MFA Bowl in George Street, Banbury, where 100 people danced to the sounds of the bands while raising money for the work being done by the Keep the Horton General campaign to save the Horton from the downgrading plan that, if it goes ahead, would see acute services centralised at the JR Hospital, Oxford. The gig was promoted by the Save Our Horton facebook team.

DirtyjackDC raising money for the Horton fighting fund


HOSC refer temporary suspension of consultant led maternity to IRP via Sec. State for Health

2 February 2017

In a major victory for all supporters of the Horton, and a blow to the OUHT's ambitions, the influential Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) voted unanimously today to refer the temporary closure of Consultant Led Maternity at the Horton to the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt.

Hunt has previously confirmed on BBC South Today that he would pass the case to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) if HOSC referred it to him. HOSC's decision should therefore ensure that the case is reviewed the same body of independent experts who saved services at the Horton General Hospital back in 2008.

In 2008, the Independent Reconfiguration Panel ruled that the journey from Banbury to Oxford was too far for a woman in labour, and extremely unwell adults and children to undertake.

Keep the Horton General and the leaders of the two Banbury Councils submitted representations to HOSC re consultant led maternity.

The case was referred to Jeremy Hunt by HOSC on the grounds of 'failure to take adequate measures to recruit'. KTHG sent HOSC members a copy of an advert for consultants in staffnurse.com along with the public survey that we are running on our website, which has over 250,000 words of condemnation and non acceptance of the Trust's proposals.

"This is a very positive result for the 180,000 people of Banburyshire that we represent" said KTHG's Chairman, Keith Strangwood. "Where it leaves the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group's split consultation / Sustainability Transformation Plans remains to be seen.

"KTHG would like to thank HOSC on behalf of everyone they represent," concluded Mr Strangwood.


"Chaotic" consultation for massive NHS changes

4 February 2017

Article published in the Banbury Cake, 4 February 2017

Health bosses have been slammed over 'slippery management-speak' and a 'chaotic' consultation over massive changes to the NHS in Oxfordshire.

Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning group was hauled before representatives of the Oxfordshire Health Overview and Scrutiny committee on Thursday to answer questions on how it had consulted on its 'sustainability and transformation plan' (STP), as well as changes on the horizon the public has not been allowed to see.

To applause from the room, Keep Our NHS Public campaigner Veronica Treacher said: "There's a crisis in democracy occurring. Under the instruction of NHS England, the STP plan remains largely secret. It has been termed extra-legislative reform.This has been a transformation - from questionable public accountability to no public accountability at all."

Oxfordshire CCG has been working with six others in Buckinghamshire and Berkshire West to produce a tri-county plan to overhaul the way the NHS is delivered across the area. It aims to address the needs of an ageing population and staffing issues and avoid a £2.5bn black hole in the budget by 2020/21.

Phase one of the Oxfordshire arm of the STP, which includes closing 200 acute hospital beds and centralising stroke and critical care, is being consulted on now.

But the full plan has not formally been published and current efforts to engage with the public in Oxfordshire were lambasted.

Ian Davies of Chipping Norton Hospital Action Group said the 11 public events arranged by the CCG had been 'chaotically organised'. He said: "First our meeting was to be held in Guildhall, which will hold about 10 people, then the town hall, which would be cabaret-style and you had to register to attend. There was little hope of advertising the meeting. People are totally confused about what's happening. How can we have a full and proper phase one debate?"

OCCG chief executive David Smith said: "We are running a series of different meetings, of different formats and at different times, across the whole of the county. They are not the only way of communicating with us. There's the website, the survey, and what's coming through on Facebook and Twitter."

Councillors also asked how much people will be told about the STP for Berkshire West, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. It is due to come into effect in mid-2017.

It was also revealed STP authors from across the three counties could be jointly responsible for commissioning some health services in Oxfordshire in the future. Mr Smith said specialist services such as cancer, diabetes and mental health had 'far better outcomes' if dealt with across county borders.

HOSC chairwoman Yvonne Constance said: "If this is a non-statutory body, why does it need an executive board, a commissioning executive and an oversight board? If a decision comes from the regional level would you be able to decide on a local level if you are to go along with it?

"Where does compliance sit? What about debts or overruns? If you are reinventing the regional health authority, we want to know that."

Mr Smith said that STP and the bodies that created it were 'here to stay' and were 'not going away', adding that Oxfordshire was 'not an island'. But he added: "There's not going to be some sort of wholesale reorganising of the NHS and we are not discussing pooling all the budget. The money will come to individual CCGs."

Phase one of the consultation is open until April 9. To get involved visit the OCCG's website.

Read the original article here.


Crowd of hundreds drowns out NHS cuts proposals with boos at the first night of 'Big Health and Care Conversation' in Banbury

26 January 2017

NHS leaders' first attempts to persuade the public to accept major cuts to hospital and health services were drowned out by boos tonight, reports the Banbury Cake, 26 January 2017.

A crowd of hundreds in Banbury jeered and hissed as a panel of six health bosses presented their proposals in public for the first time.

Under the changes being proposed, hundreds of hospital beds could be cut, acute services moved from more rural areas into Oxford and, most importantly for many in Banbury, the maternity services in the town permanently downgraded.

One woman stood and told the panel how, after her daughter had given birth by the side of the road near Banbury, she was taken to the Horton General Hospital in Banbury only to wait for an ambulance from Gloucestershire to take her to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. She concluded by demanding: "You tell me what's good about the John Radcliffe?" to huge applause from the crowd.

Banbury MP Victoria Prentis accused the panel of comparing apples with oranges after they tried to justify replacing acute services in Banbury with more appointment spaces, which, she said, were not even budgetted (sic) for.

The meeting at St Mary's Church was Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group's first public presentation of its plans to shake up NHS services across the county. Chief executive David Smith pleaded for public sympathy by saying: "The money we receive from the government is not keeping pace with the level of the demand we are seeing from the public."

The crowd were ramped up before the meeting at a picket outside the church by the Keep the Horton General campaign. Protestors, including Victoria Prentis MP, chanted slogans and urged drivers to beep as they went past.

Campaign leader Keith Strangwood urged those going inside to 'make their views known as loud as possible', but not to fill in questionnaires on the proposed changes at the 'sham' consultation session tonight.

His group is planning to run its own series of public sessions where it has promised to tell people the truth about the transformation plans.

Among those who joined the protest was Kate Fitton, who brought along her three grandchildren Yazmyne, 10, Xanthe, 10, and Ellis, eight, all of whom have been treated at the Horton. Mrs Fitton, who lives in Banbury, said the Horton had saved her son's life after he was involved in a car crash and saved her husband's life when he had a seizure in 2006. She said: "If they had had to take him to the John Radcliffe he'd be dead."

Some services at the Horton have already been closed in recent years, but under the proposed changes the hospital's maternity unit could be permanently downgraded, meaning if problems emerge during birth, mothers could have to be rushed to Oxford.

The panel admitted that has happened 11 times since October out of 59 births at the Horton.

The proposed changes could also see 200 hospital beds removed for good in Oxfordshire and the removal of the special care baby unit and maternity services from Chipping Norton. The proposals form part of 'phase one' of Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group's 'Big Health and Care Consultation'. This forms part of the wider 'sustainability and trasformation plan' for Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West ordered by NHS England to meet a predicted funding shortfall of £587m by 2020.

Victoria Prentis said she was 'extremely disappointed' the consultation had been split into two phases and was 'genuinely worried' people would not understand its content.

More consultation drop-in events are planned on the following dates:

  • Thursday 2 February: 2pm - 4pm in Chipping Norton
  • Thursday 26 January, 7pm - 9pm in Banbury
  • Thursday 2 February, 2pm - 4pm in Chipping Norton
  • Tuesday 7 February, 3pm - 5pm in Wantage
  • Thursday 9 February, 7pm - 9pm in Oxford
  • Monday 13 February, 10am - 12pm in Didcot
  • Thursday 16 February, 6pm - 8pm in Witney
  • Tuesday 21 February, 3pm - 5pm in Bicester
  • Monday 27 February, 10.30am - 12.30pm in Brackley
  • Thursday 2 March, 8pm - 10pm in Henley
  • Monday 6 March, 8pm - 10pm in Wallingford
  • Thursday 16 March, 7pm - 9pm in Banbury
  • Thursday 23 March, 6.30pm - 8.30pm in Abingdon

People can find out more about sessions near them and also respond to the consultation online at www.oxfordshireccg.nhs.uk

Read the original article on the Banbury Cake's website.


Community Partnership Network meet to discuss Consultation

Friday 3 February 2017

The Community Partnership Network (CPN) will be holding an additional meeting as a result of the Clinicial Commissioning Group's announcement of the start of the consultation period.

The CPN includes representatives from all the groups that have a stake in the future of the Horton General Hospital, including Keep the Horton General. It meets regularly, in public, to discuss current issues. Formerly held on Tuesdays, the CPN meetings have been altered to Fridays to accommodate local MPs.

When? Friday 3rd February, 9:00am to 11:00am
Where? Council Chamber, Bodicote House (Cherwell District Council's offices)
Are you sure I'm invited? Yes, this is a meeting held in public.


Anti-STP protest in London

28 January 2017

Horton supporters joined NHS campaigners from across the country in a national protest against the government's Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) on 28 January 2017. The protest aimed to raise public awareness of £22bn of underfunding to healthcare services and to put pressure on local councils, MPs, NHS England and the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, to restore our NHS to the service we expect.

video of 28 Jan 2017 anti-STP protest


Banbury's first consultation meeting on the future of services at the Horton General Hospital

Thursday 26th January 2017

They haven't given us much notice, but THIS IS IT - Banbury's first consultation meeting on the future of services at the Horton General Hospital. In a correction to our earlier posting and message, we are pleased to report that there will be a second meeting in March in Banbury for those who cannot make the first one.

Date: Thursday 26th January 2017
Time: 7pm to 9pm

Organised by the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group.

We know it's desperately short notice, but please get there if you can, so no-one can claim Banbury doesn't care about the future of OUR hospital.

It's not clear whether there is still a requirement to book following the announcement of the new, larger venue, but best to err on the side of caution and book a place in advance by calling the OCCG on 01865 334638 or email cscsu.talkinghealth@nhs.net

Please tell as many people as you can!

The complete list, from the OCCG's website is as follows:

  • Thursday 26 January, 7pm - 9pm in Banbury
  • Thursday 2 February, 2pm - 4pm in Chipping Norton
  • Tuesday 7 February, 3pm - 5pm in Wantage
  • Thursday 9 February, 7pm - 9pm in Oxford
  • Monday 13 February, 10am - 12pm in Didcot
  • Thursday 16 February, 6pm - 8pm in Witney
  • Tuesday 21 February, 3pm - 5pm in Bicester
  • Monday 27 February, 10.30am - 12.30pm in Brackley
  • Thursday 2 March, 8pm - 10pm in Henley
  • Monday 6 March, 8pm - 10pm in Wallingford
  • Thursday 16 March, 7pm - 9pm in Banbury
  • Thursday 23 March, 6.30pm - 8.30pm in Abingdon

You will need to book a place in advance by calling the OCCG on 01865 334638 or email cscsu.talkinghealth@nhs.net


Contact us if you want to hold an STP meeting in your village or community

Concerned residents of North Newington and Broughton gathered in their droves at Bishop Carpenter School on Monday 9 January for the first STP education event.

Retired GP Roger Shapley and Banbury Guardian journalist Roseanne Edwards co-organised the event to inform villagers about the Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) and their impact on the NHS.

The NHS has been hitting the headlines in recent days so the timing was spot on, and residents were horrified to learn that the local STP will see services at the Horton decimated. Under threat are A&E and all overnight inpatient beds; if the cuts go ahead the Horton will become a glorified Outpatients clinic.

Keep the Horton General chairman, Keith Strangwood, said "For years our group has been at the forefront of the battle to maintain full services at the Horton. It is absolutely vital that the public understand the ramifications of STP and how they will destroy the NHS as we know it.

"We urge all villages to hold events like this as soon as possible. Time really is of the essence. Contact me on 07740 599736 or Roseanne at roseanne_edwards@journalist.com for more details. I cannot stress how important it is that everyone gets involved"

roseanne edwards speaks at community meeting, feb 17


National Health Action Party compares NHS crisis to banking crisis

15 January 2017

Dr Alex Ashman, a surgical registrar and co-leader of the National Health Action Party, has issued this statement in response to the continuing NHS crisis.

"There are calls for funding for the NHS from every direction right now, as a result of the Red Cross interventions and the deaths in Worcestershire. But they are met with questions as to how the tax is to be raised to pay for it. The one thing that every doctor and member of NHS staff knows is that when you are treating a patient in need of urgent care here in the UK you don't check for their credit card first.

When the stability of the banking sector was threatened in 2008 there was hardly time to draw breath before £375bn of quantitative easing was created to restore order. The Treasury and the Bank of England put in extensive contingency planning to ensure that there was no excessive market reaction after the EU referendum. Yet for our health and other support services there's no new money, just existing budgets being cannibalised.

Money is taken from hospital budgets in an unsuccessful attempt to plug the social care gaps. Public health budgets for long term preventative strategies are being pillaged to prop up the NHS in the short term.

So I want to put the question: which do you think matters most, the figures on a balance sheet or the lives of patients which are literally hanging in the balance from a lack of facilities to care for them properly?

The collapse of the NHS is a crisis of the same magnitude as the financial crises. We cannot wait for a Budget Statement or a decision about taxation - that can come later when the government assesses its accounts. Action is needed, immediately, to safeguard our nation's health.

As a doctor I am writing a prescription for Theresa May, Jeremy Hunt and Simon Stevens:

  • Halt the Sustainability and Transformation Plans and the 5 Year Forward View immediately. The shrinking of the NHS that will result from their implementation will worsen the current crisis.
  • Stop the closure of A&Es and hospitals across the country. If the pressure on existing services is unbearable, how could cutting services make it any better?
  • Authorise the Treasury to issue funds to cover the immediate financial crisis, sufficient to stabilise the existing services. Instruct the Clinical Commissioning Groups to make clinical decisions for the benefit of patients, rather than financial decisions for the benefit of the private sector.
  • Tackle the real humanitarian crisis that your policies have brought about first, and sort out the tax regime you think necessary to keep the NHS publicly funded later. It can wait. Lives can't.
  • Start reversing the three decades of marketisation and privatisation of the NHS. Spending billions hiring bureaucrats to run tenders and write contracts is a terrible waste of NHS funds.
  • Be honest with the public about current events. We know that a political and ideological decision has been made to reduce the NHS to a second class service for those who can't afford to pay. We are calling you out on it. People are dying because of your political choices. It's time to face the consequences.

Keep the Horton General vice chair Charlotte Bird commented, "Dr Ashman raises some thought provoking issues here. It's the first time we've seen anyone raise the point that, when the banks got into trouble, funds were forthcoming in an instant. Like Dr Ashman, we ask, what's more important? Money or human lives?"

This article was first published by the National Health Action Party on 8 January 2017.

National Health Action Party

National Health Action Party members (file picture)


Horton mums worry about safe access to JR as snow is forecast

15 January 2017

Keep the Horton General's Facebook page, 'Save Our Horton', has enjoyed a lively exchange of messages recently. Its subject? The assurance to expectant mothers by Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust (OUHFT) that, in the event of significant snowfall, ambulances will be fitted with snow tyres. Failing that they should position themselves as close to the John Radcliffe as possible.

"Our followers get it - why doesn't the Trust get it?" remarked KTHG's Chairman, Keith Strangwood. "Posts include what about getting round the jackknifed lorries? Another offered tents and sleeping bags to all expectant mums. One of the posts, from the 'front line' said they had snow socks, not tyres, and wouldn't have time to fit them if they were treating a patient anyway".

Sadly, in 2017, in the sixth richest nation on the planet, this is what it has come to. The Horton lost its consultant led maternity unit in early October 2016 and, as a result, this is how the many mothers-to-be in Banbury and surrounding villages are being treated. With a shrug of the shoulders and an assurance about snow tyres.

"You may be stuck behind an ambulance with snow chains fitted, that's stuck behind 100s of stranded cars blocking the way, that don't have snow chains," commented Mr Strangwood (who owns a motor servicing/repair business so maybe knows what he's talking about.) "How much longer are the people of Banburyshire expected to tolerate this level of disdain from those who hold the reins of power, in Oxford?"


Patients Association chief exec. calls on Prime Minister to find cross-party, long-term solutions

14 January 2017

Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive of the Patients Association, has signed an open letter to the Prime Minister Theresa May MP to urge her to commit to seeking an inclusive, cross-party solution for the long-term sustainability of health and social care, reports the Patient's Association on 14 January.

The letter follows a question from the Lib Dem health spokesman Norman Lamb MP at Prime Minister's Questions in which he called for a cross-party convention to look into health and social care funding issues. Mr Lamb highlighted the consensus that this is one of the best approaches to resolve some of the issues facing the system.

The full letter reads:

"Dear Prime Minister,

There can be no doubt about the scale of the challenges facing health and social care services in England. Barely a day goes by without news of immediate problems - service reductions, missed targets - and warnings of future failings. 2017 simply cannot be another year where these huge issues are ducked.

While the Government has taken some short term steps to try and relieve the pressures on the NHS and local authorities, without more fundamental action, these challenges will accelerate as our population increases and ages.

Although you have recognised the need to find a longer term solution, you have not yet said how you will go about developing one. Unless you adopt a bolder approach millions of older, ill and disabled people, will continue to be badly let down.

That's why we are now calling for the government to establish a cross-party process to review and recommend action on future health and social care funding.

We believe that process should be:

  • Inclusive: established by the government with meaningful cross party engagement
  • Open: Listening to the public and professionals who use and work in these services every day
  • Urgent: Ensuring the cross party process gets underway without delay

Such a process should not aim to 'take the politics out of health and care' but rather to make clear the costs and consequences of the political decisions that must be made. It should recognise that just as no one party should be blamed for the current challenges, nor can a genuinely long term solution be owned only by one party.

Brave thinking is required to ensure the right recommendations are backed with political will. There can be no room for complacency. The time to act is now."

Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive of the Patients Association

Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive of the Patients Association


"Significant pressures" on A&E

14 January 2017

"HEALTH CRISIS: All non-urgent elective procedures and surgery cancelled at John Radcliffe cancelled Friday and Monday due to pressures on A&E" reported the Oxford Times on 14 January.

ALL pre-planned operations at Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital have been cancelled as its chief nurse admitted 'significant pressures' on the A&E department were taking their toll - with things set to get even worse.

New figures revealed the county's A&E departments had seen more than 5,400 patients over the past two weeks - a 28 per cent rise on the same period last year. On Friday morning, Oxfordshire University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust cancelled all non-urgent pre-planned operations at the JR to free up space.

The trust could not confirm how many people are affected, but Rosalind Pearce of independent watchdog Healthwatch Oxfordshire said it would impact on a large number of patients. All operations and surgeries at the Headington hospital were cancelled and it will continue for at least the whole of Monday.

Prime Minister Theresa May admitted the NHS was 'under pressure' and a spokesman from NHS England warned the flu season peak was still yet to come.

Since Boxing Day staff in the emergency department have treated on average 388 people each day, compared to a 304 a day last year.

The trust's chief nurse Catherine Stoddart said: "We have taken this decision to improve the flow of patients through the hospital so we can ensure that we can continue to see patients in our emergency department in a timely way. Staff across our hospitals, in both of our emergency departments and on our medical and surgical wards are working extremely hard and doing an excellent job providing good quality care in spite of the pressures. All patients affected by this decision have been notified."

Ms Stoddart warned people across the county to consider all their options before going to A&E as staff tried to deal with increased demand.

Earlier this week it was revealed the county's main hospital had been at the second highest level of warning - Opel 3 - since December 19. The alert signals 'severe' deterioration in A&E waiting times or a significant lack of beds.

Independent watchdog Healthwatch Oxfordshire said the Trust's move was a 'wise decision' but signified just how bad things had become. Executive director Rosalind Pearce also said it would impact on a large number of patients. She said: "Cancelling an operation can have a profound effect on patients, often people have to arrange time off work or for family to support them in getting to and from hospital. Then there's obviously those in ongoing pain waiting for an operation. The hospital must be at a point where it had no choice but to cancel operations - it would not have taken this decision lightly."

She added: "It certainly indicates the state of the NHS at the moment, and more locally the pressures on the A&E department at the John Radcliffe. She added: "It's a wise decision but obviously there will be an impact on some patients."

Mrs Pearce hoped the Trust had a plan in place to prevent a backlog of operations and surgeries. She said: "It's not as simple as someone who has had their operation cancelled on Monday coming in again on Tuesday, unfortunately. There will be a knock-on effect of this, it will be a domino effect which hopefully the Trust have a plan to deal with."

An NHS England spokesman said: "A&E visits were higher last week than the week before, but emergency hospital admissions moderated slightly. "The number of OPEL 3 and 4 days increased, compared with the previous week, but the number of A&E diverts fell. Norovirus is 77 per cent higher than last year, but the flu peak is probably still to come."

This article was published in the Oxford Times on 14 January 2017


A roundup of the week's news, as senior figures warn the service has reached a tipping point

12 January 2017

As winter pressures add to the existing problems of lost beds, under-funding and under-staffing, NHS managers, the Red Cross and others have spoken out to warn that the NHS as we know it is in crisis.

The Guardian reported on 6 January that the British Red Cross said the NHS is facing a "humanitarian crisis" as hospitals and ambulances services struggle to keep up with rising demand. This came after deaths in Worcestershire Royal hospital after trolley waits of up to 35 hours, and as the Red Cross was forced to deploy volunteers and draft in extra vehicles from Land Rover to help keep the system functioning.

In the same article, Dr Mark Holland, the president of the Society for Acute Medicine, is quoted saying, "For a long time we have been saying that the NHS is on the edge. But people dying after long spells in hospital corridors shows that the NHS is now broken. We have got to the point where the efforts of staff to prop up the system are no longer enough to keep the system afloat. We are asking NHS staff to provide a world-class service, but with third world levels of staffing and third world levels of beds. That so many other hospitals in England are facing the same pressures as the one in Worcester means that other fatalities could occur. I would suggest that the same thing could happen in other hospitals, because lots of hospitals are under the same pressures."

Meanwhile, the Financial Times stated "Theresa May ignores NHS warnings at her peril. After years of restraint, it is now imperative to spend more on health". As trusts across the country miss A&E targets due to "bed blocking" (delayed discharges), the FT describes May's dismissal of the suggestions of impending crisis and underfunding as "dangerous insouciance". It's worth answering the FT's quick survey to get access to the full article.

In this King's Fund article Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, said on Wednesday that the NHS and social care are seriously underfunded, while the health research and policy charity itself said the NHS is feeling the effects of what think-tanks have called "the most austere decade in its history".

Finally, in this Channel 4 news article, an NHS representative states that there has been an increase of 7% in the number of people turning up at A&E, and a 6% increase in those needing to be admitted. In our opinion, this clearly demonstrates that the vast majority of the additional patients were very poorly. It is not simply a matter that they should have gone to their GP or pharmacist, or were unable to get an appointment.

Nationally, A&E services clearly cannot match demand, and this is due to under-funding and bed losses.


Article date: 11 Jan 2017

Public consultation on the loss of the Horton's consultant-led maternity unit, medical beds, trauma, paediatrics and A&E is to begin on Monday 16th January.

The loss of services in Banbury feeds into a nationwide plan of 'sustainability and transformation', known as STP, which seeks to close or downgrade some 34 district general hospitals, centralising care at large city hospitals. The STP, also published on Monday, aims to remove the children's ward, trauma, downgrade intensive care and possibly turn A&E into a minor injuries unit. The consultation for the STP for Oxfordshire had been scheduled for the end of May but adverts appeared this week announcing the consultation beginning on Monday.

The process of Sustainability and Transformation is part of a huge change in government policy for the NHS. The plans include closing hospital beds, centralising acute care to large city hospitals and creating diagnostic and day-case services in district general hospitals that have traditionally provided six core, acute services. These include consultant-led maternity, special care baby units, paediatrics (specialist children's ward), A&E, adult acute medicine and trauma.

A Banbury public meeting is to be held on Thursday, January 26 but Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group has not yet confirmed a venue. Sign up to our mailing list to receive details when we know more, by emailing keepthehortongeneral@hotmail.co.uk

This article is based on an article and interview with the Banbury Guardian, 11 January 2017: http://www.banburyguardian.co.uk/news/health/horton-hospital-consultation-to-start-on-monday-1-7767958


11 Jan 2017


Keep the Horton General (KTHG) is fiercely against the nationwide plan of 'sustainability and transformation', known as STP, which is set to force 180,000 Banburyshire patients to travel to Oxford for doctor-led care and emergencies, and return sick and injured patients to their homes, to be cared for by visiting teams and relatives.

"We are going to be fighting relentlessly for Horton services and for a reinstatement of full maternity and the acute medical and trauma beds that have already been taken away without proper consultation," said Keith Strangwood, chairman of KTHG. "We are sitting on a long list of horror stories since December about patients waiting in corridors, dangerously ill, unable to be admitted to a bed because the OUH has closed beds without providing any alternative provision.

"This is happening in hospitals all over the country as hospital managers close A&Es, maternity units and other departments citing "no staff". They are avoiding obligatory consultation on the basis that they need to make these closures for safety reasons. This is playing right into the STP plans for downgrading district hospitals up and down England. Banbury cannot do without its Horton acute services."

The STP has been designed over the past two years with a goal of lopping £200m off the expected budget. "The public needs to be aware that this is a deliberate attempt to turn the Horton into a daycase unit and we are opposing it vigorously. We are also supporting other campaigns across the country and joining demonstrations calling for a complete reversal of the STP policy," he said. "There are several demonstrations this spring starting with one on January 28 and we have a coach going from Banbury to London. We invite as many people as possible to come along.

"If we are to continue having a National Health Service that offers humane care in districts like Banburyshire, we have got to get STPs stopped. Remember. It was only the outcry by the people united, that defeated the Poll Tax plans. We must all unite to stop STP."

To book a seat on the coach to the demonstration contact Keith Strangwood on 07740 599736.

KTHG chairman Keith Strangwood


Horton not immune from national crisis

12 January 2017

A Banbury woman says the Horton General Hospital's A&E department was 'manic' after her mother-in-law had to wait on a trolley for 10 hours, reports the Oxford Mail, 12 January 2017.

The elderly woman, who suffers from dementia, was left for more than 10 hours in a corridor at the Horton's overflowing A&E last week. Brenda Mountford was rushed to the Horton's A&E at 10.30pm last Friday night after a fall at home. Her daughter-in-law Amanda Mountford recounted the harrowing wait she and her family then endured as Oxfordshire's hospitals remain on high alert.

Speaking to the Oxford Mail, she said, "I called the hospital at half past one, and she was still in an ambulance outside A&E. She was freezing cold. The safety bars were crushing her. They had to keep turning the ambulance on for the heating."

Finally Brenda, who the family suspected had had a stroke and was unable to walk, was transferred to a temporary bed in a corridor at 1.45am. Amanda said: "The corridors were four-a-side. All the cubicles were full, the waiting room was full. We went back on Saturday afternoon at about 1 o'clock and they were just putting her in a cubicle in the Emergency Assessment Unit. She is still there now."

The Oxford Mail reports that since December 19 all sites run by Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have been on the second-highest alert for operational pressures. It means hospitals are experiencing serious problems with patient flow and handovers from South Central Ambulance Service are 'significantly compromised'.

Amanda said, "On Friday it was manic. There were three ambulances outside and they all had elderly people in. One of the paramedics I was talking to said one pensioner had been waiting in the ambulance since eight o'clock that night. It's just dreadful. We are worried to death. They've got no beds and we have snow forecast; how are they possibly going to keep up?"

A growing population, busy and closed GP practices, and under-staffed hospitals have been cited as reasons for sustained pressure across the NHS this winter.

However, KTHG vice-chair Charlotte Bird commented that the national problems have been compounded at the Horton by the OUHT's removal of more than 100 beds without consultation.


7 January 2016

Article: Banbury Cake, 7 January 2017

(KTHG) pressure group says hospital is not trying hard enough to get new staff at maternity unit.

A health trust's failure to recruit enough doctors for a downgraded maternity unit has been branded a disgrace by campaigners.

Bosses have said the temporary downgrade of the Horton General Hospital's maternity unit is likely to remain in place beyond March 5 because they are struggling to recruit enough doctors.

But Keith Strangwood, chairman of the Keep The Horton General group (KTHG), said Oxford University hospitals NHS foundation trust was not trying hard enough.

The Banbury resident said: "If you had a shortage of doctors at the John Radcliffe, they would be found in a few days. It is double standards. They have got no will to employee staff. They could approach an agency and in 14 days they could recruit enough staff."

The maternity unit was changed from Dr-lead to midwife-lead in October after the trust said it did not have enough doctors. Despite 48 applicants coming forward to 7 adverts throughout the year, the trust said 10 were offered a job and only one so far had taken up the position. Three doctors are already in post and another two are due to start next year but it is still not enough.

A spokesman for the trust said: "the service was initially temporarily suspended with effect from October 3, 2016, with the hope that if enough doctors were able to be appointed in the meantime, that the service could re-open in January. This decision was reviewed at the end of October, and it was clear that there would only be three doctors in post in January out of the nine needed. That situation was reviewed again this week and unfortunately, the current number of obstetric doctors remains at three and the maximum number of doctors likely to be in post by March is five, which is not enough to reinstate the service at that point."

The trust maintains recruitment efforts are "ongoing" and said there had been difficulties finding suitable applicants due to a national shortage of suitably qualified doctors. It also said there were problems after job offers were made and applicants either took job offers elsewhere or failed to meet the clinical standards for English language tests, with some candidates withdrawing from the process.

North Oxfordshire MP Victoria Prentice (sic) said: "While I understand that some appointments have been made it is extremely disappointing that there will not be sufficient doctors in post in time for the obstetric unit to reopen in March. I will continue to assist the trust to ensure that normal service will resume."


MP seeks travel time data

6 January 2017

Banbury MP Victoria Prentis is asking constituents to help her collect information about the real journey times between Banbury and the JR.

Launching the campaign on Twitter, Ms Prentis wrote "Tweet about your journey experience using #Banbury2JR. I'll pass the data we collect on to @OUHospitals & @OxonCCG."

Victoria explains on her website that the idea follows a meeting with the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG), where journey times were discussed. Victoria stated in the meeting that door-to-department journey times, including the time it takes to park (our emphasis), must be included in statistics showing travel times to the JR.

With the downgrade of the Horton maternity unit in October 2016, Victoria is keen to ensure that the Oxfordshire University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and OCCG are aware of the genuine impact of travel times between Banbury and the JR.

A consultation on healthcare provision in Oxfordshire, including services at the Horton General Hospital, is expected to begin this month. Statistics on travel times are expected to be an important part of the consultation process.

The campaign is open to anyone travelling from Banbury and its surrounding areas to the JR for an appointment, or to visit a relative. It will involve filling out a short form about a journey to the JR, and sending it or emailing it to Victoria's constituency office. She and her staff will then collate the responses to submit to the OCCG.

In encouraging constituents to take part in the campaign, Victoria commented: "Following the downgrade of the Horton maternity unit, I remain extremely concerned about travel times to the John Radcliffe. The journey can be so unpredictable and parking times must be taken into account. These variables need to be considered ahead of the consultation on NHS services in Oxfordshire. It would be brilliant if as many people as possible get involved in the campaign to give us a good indication of true journey times from Banbury."

If you are travelling to the JR from the Banbury area, please fill in the form and send it to Victoria.prentis.mp@parliament.uk or by post to:

Victoria Prentis MP, Heyford Park House, Upper Heyford, Bicester, OX25 5HD.

Click on the picture below to obtain a form from Victoria's website, complete her online survey here https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/HQ55BQB or you can request an electronic version of the form by emailing a request to Victoria.prentis.mp@parliament.uk

Victoria also invites people to post photos of themselves leaving and arriving on social media, with their travel time to the JR, using the hashtag #Banbury2JR.

travel times form


Customers "round up their pounds" for the Horton Fighting Fund

3 January 2017

Local parcel delivery firm P4D has come up with an innovative way to raise awareness and campaign funds, by encouraging their customers to "round up their pounds" at checkout.

The initiative has so far raised £250 for the Horton Hospital Fighting Fund.

Based in Banbury, P4D (Parcels 4 Delivery) is one of the leading Parcel Delivery comparison websites in the UK. They work with a variety of couriers, enabling customers to send anything from small parcels to heavy freight. Services can be booked online allowing customers to either drop their parcels at their local convenience store, or have them collected from their home or work, on a day specified by the customer.

P4D e-commerce director David Hobson said, "The campaign to save services at the Horton is one that is very close to our hearts and we will continue to support it in every way we can"


Trust fails to get enough doctors in post by December deadline

23 December 2016

Article: Oxford Mail, 23 December 2016

A temporary downgrade of the Horton General Hospital's maternity unit is now likely to remain in place until beyond March, bosses have said.

Not enough doctors have been recruited, meaning the unit cannot be stepped back up to a consultant-led service as early as hoped.

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said the situation would be kept 'under review'. It means women who have complications while giving birth will continue to be transferred to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

The unit was changed from being doctor-led to midwife-led in October after the trust said it did not have enough doctors. Nine doctors are needed, it said, and currently only three are in post.

Since July 2016 the trust has accepted job applications from six more doctors. Only one has started work and two more are still due to start in the new year.

A statement from the trust said: "The suspension was extended until March and it was decided to review the situation again in December after the next round of recruitment and advertising. That situation was reviewed again this week and unfortunately, the current number of obstetric doctors remains at three and the maximum number of doctors likely to be in post by March is five, which is not enough to reinstate the service at that point."



Real-world protest and social media thunderclaps planned as STPs are signed off

23 December 2016

23rd December 2016 marks the date that the 44 Sustainability and Transformation Plans, including the one covering our area, are due to be signed off - finalising the plans for the next two years and signing contracts with service providers - unless enough pressure can be brought to bear on the bodies signing off the plans.

A coalition of NHS campaign groups is organising both real-world and social media protests to take place at 1.00pm, 1.15pm and 1.30pm on 23 December.

Social media protest

Follow these links to automatically post the message below to your social media accounts at the appointed time. Don't let it put you off if you've never done this before - it's not as difficult as it looks! Follow all three links to sign up for all three "thunderclaps" and get the travesty that is STP trending on social media.

Thunderclap 1, 1.00 pm
Thunderclap 2, 1.15 pm
Thunderclap 3, 1.30 pm

This is the message that will be posted on your behalf if you sign up:

Howl of Protest for the NHS

Real world protest

Coinciding with the three social media Thunderclaps, there will be two real world "Howls of Protest" in Whitehall, London, and at the NHS England HQ in Leeds. The organisers request that people gather from 12.00pm to protest against the sign off of the Government's STP contracts. Bring vuvuzelas, bring air horns, bring whistles, bring drums, bring anything that will make a noise, and join in an almighty "Howl of Protest for the NHS".

Organiser Christine Hyde says, "This is the death knell for the NHS, the last nail in the coffin and it's happening without any public engagement or consultation. The government doesn't want to hear your voice; make sure they do!"


Campaign to feature on NATIONAL news

Monday 19th December 2016

Can you get to the Horton General Hospital for 11am Monday?

The BBC are filming outside the Main Entrance on Oxford Road from 11am for an item that will feature on the 6pm and 10pm national news. They will be interviewing longtime supporter and recently elected councillor Andrew McHugh, and possibly Victoria Prentis and campaigners Keith Strangwood and Dr Peter Fisher as part of a segment on the government's Sustainability and Transformation Plans.

Please get there if you can, with appropriate banners and placards (pithy, angry, but not defamatory) to show the nation that Banbury means what it says - HANDS OFF OUR HORTON!

We understand the article is due to air on Wednesday.

File photo of protesters outside Horton General Hospital, summer 2016


Hundreds pay their respects to George Parish

13 December 2016

This afternoon we said goodbye to our longtime leader and campaigning legend, George Parish.

It was a mark of just how special he was that St Mary's was full of people who loved and respected him. He was truly one of a kind.

We will honour his memory by fighting on for the cause that meant so much to him, for as long as it takes.

George Parish celebrates at the end of the 2006 - 2008 campaign


Tribute to a selfless man and legendary campaigner

3rd September 1941 - 26th November 2016

By Roseanne Edwards, Banbury Guardian, 30 November 2016

George Parish had to devote a full afternoon to the weekly shopping because he was stopped so often by people wanting to chat to him. Mr Parish was widely known for his dedication to public service, as a Labour district and town councillor, as a shop steward at General Foods and most famously as the leader of the campaign to save the Horton as a fully functional district general hospital.

George Parish, Labour councillor and legendary Horton campaigner

George Parish, Labour councillor and legendary Horton campaigner

Mr Parish died on Saturday at Vale House, Oxford where he had been resident since last autumn. He had suffered Alzheimer's disease for several years. Born in Grimsbury, George was the second son of George, and Edie. Two of his brothers died as children and his sister, Jane, died in 2006. George went to St Leonard's Primary and Grimsbury County schools. He met his wife, Suzanne (Sue) when they both worked at Switchgear and the couple married in 1964. They ran The Vine Pub, Cornhill during the 1960s, later living at Arundel Place and in 1984 moving to Glamis Place on Bretch Hill. The couple had three sons, John, in 1967, Keith in 1977 and Steve, born in 1982.

George and Sue Parish

George and Sue Parish

George joined General Foods in 1974 and was involved in the TGWU (Transport and General Workers' Union) becoming a shop steward. After an approach by his neighbour, Labour councillor Tony Humphries, George became councillor for Ruscote in 1992/3. His union work had stirred his political interest.

George was a lifelong Labour Party supporter, rooted in his belief in public services and, of course, the NHS. When Banbury Health Emergency (BHE) was formed in 1992 to fight threats to the Horton, George joined. He took over the chair from Steve Thorp in 1993 after a campaign, including the famously successful March of the 5,000, against Oxfordshire Health Authority's bid to remove maternity and A&E to Oxford. A new threat emerged almost immediately in 1993 to 1994 against the children's ward, using a refusal by the Royal College of Paediatricians to give the Horton training accreditation. George and Banbury Health Emergency won that with GPs and Horton paediatricians Harvey Marcovitch and Bob Bell.

In 1995 another review was announced from which came the Davidson Inquiry which recommended a merger between the Horton and the JR, Oxford on condition emergency services were maintained in Banbury. This went ahead in 2000.

In 2006 the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals Trust revealed a new downgrade plan for all acute services. Oxfordshire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee referred the matter to the Secretary of State and after an exhaustive inquiry, including a week of presentations to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel, the plan was thrown out on the basis Oxford is too far to transfer sick and injured patients and women in delivery.

George Parish celebrates at the conclusion of the succesful 2008 campaign

George Parish celebrates at the conclusion of the succesful 2008 campaign

George was Banbury town mayor in 1995 to 1996, earning the nickname Rock 'n' Roll Mayor after his themed fundraising ball. He was co-opted to the newly formed town council in 2002, resigning in 2014. He was chairman of Cherwell District Council from 2010 to 2011 and was made an Honorary Burgess (Banbury's highest honour, giving him freedom of the town) in 2014.

"The perfect father, a loving, generous husband and an inspiring and hugely respected community leader" is how George Parish has been described by his son, Keith. George's family said this week that knowing the high regard in which he was held is a source of pride and great comfort in their loss.

"We are very proud of his achievements. He would do anything for anybody, he was selfless and always put others before himself," said a statement from son John, daughter-in-law Maria and granddaughter Rosie. "His passing has left a huge hole in our lives. His proudest moment was meeting the Queen when she visited Banbury and going to a garden party at Buckingham Palace.

"We are humbled by all of the well wishers for all of their kind comments. We have taken time to read all of them and are comforted by the love the people of Banbury have for him. We shall miss him massively."

George's brother, Phil, said: "Our George is at peace, gone but never to be forgotten. Heaven will be a better place now you're there. Rest in peace Georgie, our Dave, our Phil and of course our Jane."

George Parish

George Parish

Dr Peter Fisher, retired Horton consultant and member of Keep the Horton General (KTHG) said: "People throughout the area will be saddened to hear of the death of George Parish. He served the community in so many ways over the years, but it is probably his tireless efforts on behalf of the Horton General Hospital for which he will best be remembered.

"His work was tireless and inspirational but perhaps his greatest strength was his ability to get on with everybody and the description 'man of the people' fitted him perfectly.

"Unfortunately he was unable to take part in the campaign against the more far-reaching threats we now face but he would have been with us in spirit and his memory will continue to inspire us."

George Parish, with a portrait painted by artist and retired GP Roger Shapley

George Parish, with a portrait painted by artist and retired GP Roger Shapley

Charlotte Bird of KTHG said: "George was an extraordinary human being whose only motivation was the betterment of his fellow man. He was utterly selfless. He could also rock 'n' roll like a pro - as I found out on the dance floor at GF Social Club."

George Parish speaking at a protest rally during the 2006-2008 campaign

George Parish speaking at a protest rally during the 2006-2008 campaign

A Book of Remembrance has been opened by Banbury Town Council. Those who wish to sign it may do so at Banbury Town Hall. It will be placed at the funeral for people's entries and taken back to the town hall for a week afterwards and then presented to the Parish family.

Read the original articles here:

Condolences provide comfort to Banbury folk hero George Parish's family
Farewell to Banbury's rock-n-roll Mayor, George Parish


26 November 2016

People throughout the Banbury area will be saddened to hear of the death of George Parish on Saturday 26th November. He served the community in so many ways over the years, including as Councillor and Town Mayor, but it is probably his tireless efforts on behalf of the Horton General Hospital for which he will best be remembered.

George was the first chairman of Keep the Horton General and filled the same role for its predecessors. His work for the cause was tireless and inspirational but perhaps his greatest strength was his ability to get on with everybody. The description "man of the people" fitted him perfectly.

The high point of his leadership came in 2008 when the Independent Reconfiguration Panel rejected plans to downgrade our maternity and children's services. Unfortunately in recent years his health deteriorated and he was unable to take part in the campaign against the more far-reaching threats we are now facing; but he would have been with us in spirit and his memory will continue to inspire us.

It was a privilege to work alongside such a great man.

Our thoughts and sympathy are with his family at this time.

George Parish celebrates at the end of the 2006 - 2008 campaign

Banbury's hero, George Parish, pictured at the succesful conclusion of the 2006-2008 campaign

Link to Banbury Guardian article


27 November 2016

Our choir, fundraisers, Kath Davies and former Horton General Hospital Staff did us proud at the switching on of Banbury's Christmas Lights earlier today.

The choir, which has been rehearsing for several weeks, was one of several to sing for the crowds on the day.

at Banbury's Christmas Lights ceremony, 27 November 2016

Meanwhile, our fundraising team worked hard in the cold wrapping gifts for a donation to the Horton Fighting Fund.

at Banbury's Christmas Lights ceremony, 27 November 2016

The highlight was the switching on of the lights, by veteran fundraiser and signature collector extraordinaire Kath Davies, supported by former Horton General Hospital staff.

at Banbury's Christmas Lights ceremony, 27 November 2016

Well done to all who turned out and supported Banbury Town Council's event and for the support shown for the Horton and our campaign on this sad day, when we mourn the loss of our former chairman George Parish.


Sunday 11th December, 4pm and 6.30pm

Local children's theatre group "Just Kidz" is proud to present "The Notivity" - an innovative, unusual take on the traditional nativity.

Playwright Kay Stevens explains - "God is in despair at the world, so he decides to try again...sending the Baby Jesus to earth to heal mankind. But Bethlehem is a bit dangerous at the moment, and so he chooses Banbury for the birth. However, the evil Herod has other plans and decides to prevent the birth by whatever means necessary."

As Herod closes the Horton's maternity unit to "high risk" mothers, specialist care is now miles away in Oxford, and the Virgin Mary is at risk of giving birth on the A34....

The play even includes a cameo by "voice of X Factor" Peter Dickson as the voice of God.

There will be two performances of "The Notivity", at 4pm and 6.30pm on Sunday 11th December, at Middleton Cheney Primary Academy.

Tickets are available via this facebook page or by calling Liz Williams on 07801 785903.

Poster for the Notivity


Jeremy Corbyn speaks to Oxfordshire campaigners

26 November 2016

Hundreds of thousands of campaigners turned out across the country yesterday for Labour's "National Campaign Day of Action for the NHS". In Oxford, crowds packed an East Oxford church hall to hear Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn deliver an impassioned speech, before hundreds marched from Manzil Way to Carfax Tower in the centre of the city.

Jeremy Corbyn speaking to a packed hall, Oxford, November 2016

Short video on twitter, posted by @Oxford_Labour.

Led by campaign groups Keep Our NHS Public and Hands Off Our NHS, the protesters carried symbolic coffins to draw attention to the imminent demise of the NHS as we know it under the government's euphemistically-named Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STP). Smaller awareness raising events were also held in Banbury, where passers by were invited to sign a petition demanding proper funding for the NHS, and in Bicester.

Councillor Sean Woodcock & Councillor Steve Kilsby, respectively leaders of the District and Town Council Labour groups, issued a joint statement:

"Everyone in Banbury and the surrounding areas knows about the current threat to consultant-led maternity and other services at the Horton Hospital. What this is about; is raising awareness of the current situation in the NHS as a whole and how these things are linked. After all, it is the lack of proper investment, in the NHS and in social care, along with an increasing number of people using these services; that is directly responsible for what is happening at the Horton.

The purpose of the day is to get people talking about it. Then, national decision-makers will have no choice but to take this issue seriously".


Newly elected councillor Andrew McHugh speaks out

24 November 2016

A new Banbury councillor has accused Oxford hospital bosses of planning to downgrade the Horton for years, writes Roseanne Edwards in the Banbury Guardian, 24 November 2016.

Andrew McHugh said the Banbury hospital could die a 'death by 1,000 cuts' if public consultation on loss of the 24-hour children's ward and A&E was split from that for the removal of maternity, special care baby unit (SCBU), 36 stroke and adult medical beds and ten trauma beds last month.

Mr McHugh, councillor for the Adderbury, Bloxham and Bodicote division on Oxfordshire County Council, told the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee: "I believe there has been a decision already to remove all acute services at the Horton and it predates the removal of emergency abdominal surgery (in January 2013).

"I am also concerned if we consult on each of those acute services at the Horton piecemeal we will die the death of a 1,000 cuts. If you remove consultant led obstetrics you then call into question SCBU which will go - and call into question the viability of 24-hour paediatric care.

He added all the services were linked and should be consulted on together.

The discussion (at the Oxfordshire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 17 November) centred on how public consultation on the services already removed should be undertaken in January. Consultation on future plans to axe the 24-hour children's ward, the remaining trauma beds and A&E will be carried out in May or June.

During the discussion Oxford University Hospitals Trust head of planning, Andrew Stevens said: "You could argue that by having a consultation that's focussed on the changes (already made) you're giving the public a much greater chance to comment on those. Nothing in the first (consultation) will prejudice the second," said Mr Stevens.

Dr Bruno Holthof, Chief Executive of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: "We made the decision to remove emergency abdominal surgery from the Horton on patient safety grounds. This was supported by our commissioners and Oxfordshire's Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Our more recent decision to temporarily suspend obstetric led maternity care was also made on patient safety grounds - we cannot run a service if we do not have enough doctors to do safely. I reject the suggestion that there are plans to remove all services from the Horton. Our plans for the future of the Horton are to develop it as a general hospital fit for the 21st century. These plans involve the Trust investing in the hospital. We aim to bring at least 60,000 additional outpatient appointments a year to Banbury from Oxford to reduce the need for local people to travel. We are also planning a big investment in improved diagnostics. Some of this investment has already happened, such as the refurbished radiology department and work is now starting on a £3.6 million investment to replace the CT scanner. In addition, the newly refurbished Endoscopy Unit at the Horton will be officially opened this week following several million pounds of investment."

KTHG note that the decision to suspend consultant-led maternity care at the Horton General Hospital was due to the trust's failure to recruit sufficient doctors, and that Holthof's vision of a "general hospital fit for the 21st century" is not what the majority of people would expect, being mainly outpatient clinics, while patients must travel to hard-to-reach city centres for acute care such as A&E, 24/7 paediatrics and consultant-led maternity.


24 November 2016

Banburyshire's leaders have joined forces in calling for public consultation on downgrading the Horton's services to be done in one go, writes Roseanne Edwards in the Banbury Guardian, 24 November 2016.

Cherwell District Council leader Barry Wood joined MPs Victoria Prentis (Banbury) and Robert Courts (Witney) in calling for a single consultation of acute services at Banbury's hospital rather than a split exercise agreed at Oxfordshire County Council last week.

The Oxfordshire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) voted for a January public consultation on loss of some 60 beds in consultant-led maternity, adult medicine/stroke care and trauma last month.

This would be run separately from consultation on loss of the 24-hour children's ward, critical care and A&E, which would be conducted in May after the local council elections.

The political leaders say the 'domino effect' - where no single service could survive without the others - means splitting consultation could be the death knell for the Horton as a district general hospital.

Cllr Wood said: "The council is disappointed and disagrees with the HOSC's decision to split into two the consultation process for health sector changes in the county. Emerging proposals for change to services at the Horton General Hospital have been examined for the hospital as a whole as there are many inter-dependencies and wider aspects which need to be considered. This has already created significant uncertainty and anxiety amongst local people. The council believes that same approach needs to apply to the formal consultation process."

"To consult separately on obstetrics, bed reductions, critical care and stroke care only, without considering the wider implications of the effect on A&E, paediatrics, anaesthetics, radiology and urgent care is a mistake. This will result in a longer period of uncertainty after the January consultation as the outcome and any proposed change will not be known until after the second stage consultation is undertaken in early summer 2017."

Mrs Prentis said: "I find this latest development very concerning. Splitting the consultation will have far-reaching implications for all of us in north Oxfordshire and beyond. The future of our hospital is a central part of the Transformation Plan. We had to endure the downgrade of the Horton General Hospital's maternity unit with absolutely no consultation; it is now essential we are given an opportunity to understand and consider the proposals in the plan in their entirety.

"This will be virtually impossible if the consultation is carried out in two parts over almost half a year. The clarity of the plan will be diluted and the whole system approach will be lost," she said.

Newly elected Witney MP, Robert Courts was also critical of the decision. He said: "I am concerned not only at the delay in consultation but the proposed split into two consultation parts. There have been a number of blows to local healthcare recently from the downgrade of the Horton's maternity unit to the proposed closure of Deer Park Medical Centre, Witney. They have been marked by an absence of any or any proper consultation. It is vital that the public are able to understand the entire proposals, which will be impossible if the plans are split into two parts. What is needed is a clear and open consultation, so the public are not left wondering about what is proposed for their vital services at, for example, Witney and Chipping Norton Hospitals."


Anti-STP events in Banbury, Oxford and Bicester

26 November 2016

The country is waking up to the threats the government's Sustainability and Transformation Plans present to hospitals like the Horton General Hospital and indeed to the NHS nationally.

Events will be held across the country on Saturday 26 November, on what the Labour Party is calling "NHS Campaign Day".

Events local to us are:

- Banbury, Morrisons, leafleting from 10am
- Bicester, stall at Sheep Street from 10am
- And the big one - Oxford: procession from Manzil Way to Carfax Tower - assemble at 1pm at Manzil Way

We understand Jeremy Corbyn will be at the Oxford event, so undoubtedly the media will be there too - a great opportunity to get your banners and placards on show if you can make it!

These events are being organised by the Labour party, but we would urge anyone who wishes to protest against the destruction of our NHS to show their support irrespective of your own political leanings. This is no time to let party politics stand in the way of saving the NHS!

In their press release, Banbury & Bicester Labour Party writes;

"Councillors and activists from Banbury & Bicester Labour Party will take to the streets this Saturday as part of its NHS Campaign Day.

During the event, which forms part of a national day of activity on the subject, the party will argue that the time has come for proper investment in the National Health Service to transform it for the 21st Century.

The party will argue that the national situation has grown so dire that it is causing intolerable pressure on some services while others close. It is this, the party says, that has led to the current battle for service provision at Banbury's Horton Hospital.

Councillor Sean Woodcock & Councillor Steve Kilsby; leaders of the district and town council Labour groups respectively, issued a joint statement:

"Everyone in Banbury and the surrounding areas knows about the current threat to consultant-led maternity and other services at the Horton Hospital. What this is about; is raising awareness of the current situation in the NHS as a whole and how these things are linked. After all, it is the lack of proper investment, in the NHS and in social care, along with an increasing number of people using these services; that is directly responsible for what is happening at the Horton. The purpose of the day is to get people talking about it. Then, national decision-makers will have no choice but to take this issue seriously."

Sean Woodcock, leader of district council Labour group

Sean Woodcock, leader of the District Council Labour Group



Fundraiser and signature collector extraordinare Kath Davies has been chosen to switch on Banbury's Christmas Lights on Sunday 27th November. She will be supported by former Horton General Hospital staff.

Mrs Davis has spent a lifetime raising money for good causes locally, including thousands of pounds for the Horton. She has also raised funds for Katherine House Hospice, Bodicote Scouts, Multiple Sclerosis Society, and Bodicote WI. Earlier this year, Kath collected more than 1,000 of the 20,000 signatures on our petition which we presented to the trust and Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt.

Cllr Colin Clarke, chairman of the council's general services committee, said: "The switch-on will be a family occasion that will also pay tribute to the work that goes on at the Horton Hospital.

"The day will have a real Christmas atmosphere for people of all ages and we think the new line-up will appeal to everyone."

The switch-on will take place outside the town hall at 5pm on Sunday 27 November, and will be followed by the traditional Christmas firework display. A seasonal market, local choirs, workshops, Santa's Grotto and a funfair will provide entertainment throughout the day. The market will be open from 1pm to 8pm. Eight choirs, including the KTHG / Save our Horton choir, will sing carols and the Mambo Panthers will play a mixture of Cuban, swing, Cumbia, jazz, and rock music.

It should be a great day!

Kath Davies


Trust refuse to allow Horton staff to switch on Christmas Lights

The Oxford University Hospitals Trust has refused to allow its staff to be the guests of honour at the switching on of Banbury's Christmas Lights.

Banbury had made the news earlier this month by declining to pay an obscure celebrity to perform the ceremony, instead inviting residents to nominate staff from Oak Ward, F Ward, maternity and SCBU - the departments closed or downgraded by the trust this year. Unfortunately the trust has decreed that staff will not be allowed to perform the ceremony, claiming that some staff have been upset by our campaigning activities and that they must treat all their staff equally.

In response to this and other allegations made by the trust, KTHG have issued this statement.

"Keep the Horton General categorically deny any involvement whatsoever in staff harassment. We are champions of all frontline staff across the OUHFT hospitals. To suggest otherwise is completely ridiculous. We would recommend those making these slurs study our save our horton Facebook page to confirm what our followers think about us.

We would like, once and for all, to put an end to the accusations (made by one senior Trust member) that our campaign group have been seen wielding posters saying 'baby killers'. We would direct that individual to images taken outside the Department of Health on the day when members of KTHG handed in the petition of 20,000 signatures at Downing Street.

Ten protest groups came together that day with the same message for Jeremy Hunt. No NHS cuts! Members of another group were carrying the posters in question. One of our campaigners has confirmed that she was handed a poster and felt so strongly about it, put it on the ground - face down.

So instead of trying to besmirch our campaign with tawdry accusations, we feel an apology and total retraction are in order. We look forward to receiving both."


17 February 2017

It's some way off yet, but we wanted to let you know that long-time supporters "DirtyjACkDC" plus support from "Til Dawn" will be performing at the MFA Bowling Alley, Banbury, on the 17th of February 2017. All profits will be donated to the Horton Fighting Fund!

Ticket are £10 each and can be obtained by emailing info@dirtyjACkDC.com. Tickets are limited due to the size of the venue.

For more information see:

This event on facebook

DirtyjackDC raising money for the Horton fighting fund


24th November 2016

Our thanks to our fundraising team for organising a coffee morning at Stanbridge Hall in aid of Horton fighting funds.

There are more events coming up; check out our fundraising page for details of our Christmas Bazaar, our gift-wrapping service at the Christmas Lights switch-on, plus wrestling (from which we receive a proportion of the ticket price) and the Queens Road Christmas Market, where our fundraising team will be selling merchandise.


Council leaks plans due to "serious concerns"

16 November 2016

The Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) covering our area - Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire - has been leaked!

Reading Council leaked the plan on 16 November, saying they took the decision due to serious concerns about transparency of the draft document. According to Health Service Journal, at least 35 of the 44 plans nationwide have already been leaked by councils angry at being forced to keep the NHS-destroying plans a secret.

The draft document outlines a predicted financial gap of £479m by 2020 for Bucks, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West. The plan was submitted to NHS England last month for consideration.

According to Reading Council's website, Council Leader Jo Lovelock and Lead Member for Health, Cllr Graeme Hoskin, are particularly alarmed at the lack of focus in the document on the essential role of local authorities in play in providing adult social care services. Whilst acknowledging the need for NHS efficiency savings, the Councillors are clear this can only be successfully achieved by a system-wide transformation of all health services, including primary care/ GP services and local authority services.

You can read the leaked document on Reading Council's website or click the image below.

leaked STP document for Berks, Oxon and Bucks


KTHG supporters tell Oxford residents how Horton cuts will affect them

19 November 2016

Horton campaigners boarded the battle bus again on Saturday 19th November, armed with leaflets designed to educate the residents of Oxford about what the trust's cuts at the Horton General Hospital will mean for them, and the dangers of the government's Sustainability and Transformation Plans.

More than forty campaigners targeted the city centre and East Oxford, handing out thousands of leaflets to shoppers and answering questions.

Speaking to the Oxford Mail, campaigner Desley Ayres said, "If they cut Banbury, the John Radcliffe Hospital is going to have to take all those patients. The whole county needs to be aware of it and what is being done to our NHS. There are a lot of people in Banbury worrying about this."

KTHG chairman Keith Strangwood commented, "We will be armed with our placards and leaflets detailing how removal of services at the Horton will affect all communities in Oxfordshire. We will also be distributing a sheet on key Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) facts. This surreptitious process has received remarkably little publicity despite potentially changing our National Health Service for ever.

We are very fortunate to have supporters who care not only about their local hospital but hospitals across the land.They are giving up their time on Saturday to inform and communicate with Oxford's Christmas shoppers. I am proud of every one of them".

campaigners educating oxford, Nov 2016


KTHG joins forces with other Oxfordshire groups at important meeting

17 November 2016

Campaigners from Banbury, Witney, Oxford and elsewhere in the county converged on the county council HQ in Oxford on Thursday, November 17th, to call for a halt to drastic cuts in health services.

Campaigners greeted members of Oxfordshire County Council's Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) with banners and flyers describing the dangers of new plans to reduce Horton services, close community hospitals and attempt to offer acute treatment in patients' homes. The plans are part of the Oxfordshire element of Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STP) - which the government intends to slash NHS funding by £22 billion over the next four to five years.

Bill McKeith of Keep Our NHS Public, Oxon, which has joined forces with Keep the Horton General, said, "The plan - which Oxfordshire health bosses have been ordered to keep secret - includes closure of all acute, inpatient services at the Horton - including maternity, children's ward, trauma and A&E. We'd like people to join our lobby to call on councillors to publish the secret STP in full and to call for full public consultation before contracts are signed with healthcare providers. Failing this, councillors should oppose the plan."

The meeting included discussion of the Oxfordshire Transformation Programme, training accreditation, the "Horton Short Term MLU Position", the latest position on the Emerging Horton Clinical Service Models, and STP & the Oxfordshire Transformation Plan next steps.

campaigners at HOSC Nov 2016


10 December 2016

The live professional wrestling event has been rescheduled for Saturday 10 December - and the organisers are donating £1 from every ticket sold to the Horton campaign. We'll also be there selling campaign merchandise.

Where: Banbury United Football Club
When: Saturday 10th December, 6pm - 9pm
Price: £6 in advance or £8 on the door

Visit www.ringsideworld.co.uk to buy tickets

wrestling 10 December 2016 Banbury United Football Club


Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee, 17 October 2016, 10am - 1pm

Awareness-raising trip to Oxford, 19 October 2016, 10am - 2.30pm

We've got two trips to Oxford scheduled for this week!

On Thursday 17th November, we're joining health campaigners from across Oxfordshire at the Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee meeting in Oxford. Council members will be discussing the Oxfordshire Transformation Programme, training accreditation, the "Horton Short Term MLU Position", the latest position on the Emerging Horton Clinical Service Models, and STP & the Oxfordshire Transformation Plan next steps. Looks like it's going to be a busy meeting, and we're going to be there to see what they have to say.

Then on Saturday 19th November, we're putting on a FREE coach to Oxford to educate the citizens of Oxford about how the downgrading of services at the Horton General Hospital will affect them. We don't think they understand the impact that the removal of acute services from the North of the county will have on capacity at the JR - and we're going to tell them! We'll also be handing out leaflets about the dangers of the government's Sustainability and Transformation Plans, which you can read more about here.

We need your help to hand out leaflets to as many people as possible!

If you want to join us, let us know on this Facebook event page or email us at keepthehortongeneral@hotmail.co.uk to book your seat on the FREE coach.




Oxford Mail, 1 November 2016

Chairman of Healthwatch Oxfordshire, Eddie Duller, asks this question in his article for the Oxford Mail, published 1 November 2016.

"Plans to close 118 beds at Oxford's JR hospital, the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre and the Horton General Hospital at Banbury could herald the start of a major shake-up in the way care is provided in Oxfordshire in the future," he writes.

"Ahah, you might say. What happened to consultation with the general public?

In fact it is the trust that runs the JR that is saying a AHAH - it stands for Acute Hospital At Home - and it means that most people could be treated in their homes for serious conditions including deep vein thrombosis and forms of heart failure instead of staying or possibly being referred to hospital.

It is all part of a plan to cut the number of people receiving bed-based care in acute hospitals, speeding up the discharge procedures and providing a new service through community-based teams of senior nurses supported by clinical support workers, therapists, pharmacists and specialists in dealing with elderly people.

The lynchpins are the GPs, the frontline in our health service and who are already feeling the strain in a bewildering change of direction of the National Health Service, aimed primarily at saving money.

It means, also, that it will take a year to reorganise parts of the JR by relocating some beds and by cutting down hospital admissions and changing to more out-patient treatment.

The good news is that the situation around the poor record of delayed transfers of care, highlighted by Healthwatch Oxfordshire just over a year ago, is beginning to improve.

The JR is claiming that by treating more people at home this will help the situation and cuts down bed blocking as well.

According to the hospital trust that runs the JR, the NOC and the Horton, the switch to the new system will save £5 million, most of which will cover the cost of refurbishment.

But the question of public consultation over this matter, or lack of it, remains.

The matter was raised at a recent meeting of the Oxfordshire County Council's Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny committee and the reorganisation was not delayed, but the hospital trust was warned that it should go to consultation not later than January next year when the larger picture of the health and social care revolution is opened up for public discussion.

In my view, however, that could be too late and the JR trust should be going out to public consultation now, not when part of the reorganisation may have started.

There are also some question marks over who does what, because the different hospital trusts and Oxfordshire County Council are still struggling to get services streamlined.

For instance the Oxford Health Foundation Trust, which runs the county's community hospitals, mental health and some other community services, run a HAH service - or Hospital at Home - according to the trust's website.

So, where do AHAH and HAH fit in with each other, if they do?

The two Oxford-based trusts do not have a history of working together and the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, which provides the money for health services, became so fed up with them that earlier this year it threatened to find a new way of providing community, GP and urgent care services.

We can only hope the two trusts see sense and get together, although it is likely that if the new tendering process goes ahead there will be another battle between them to run the services.

What worries me is that the debate on changing the way health and social care is provided is beginning to focus on a turf war between the two hospital trusts and the county council, rather than a concerted effort to improve what is already a high level of service.

In fact, of all of the meetings held so far I have not come across a discussion of how to improve, apart from the situation over with (sic) way people are discharged from hospital.

Discussion has been all about saving money.

It is obvious that there is room to achieve more affordable and better care, which is being demonstrated already in other parts of the country and which point the way forward.

Where that has happened, for instance in Devon, a largely rural county which has a similar profile to Oxfordshire, it has been achieved through working together.

Change is unsettling enough in itself, as we are seeing through closure of GP practices in the county, and it is about time those who run the services literally got their act together.

They are in danger of forgetting the people who need the services - and, incidentally, who paid for them."

Eddie Duller on lack of consultation, Oxford Mail, November 2016

STP - the biggest threat you've never heard of

STP, or the "Sustainability and Transformation Plan" is the scheme being masterminded by Simon Stevens, (former executive of US health insurance company, UnitedHealth) that will end the NHS, in its current form, forever. The threat is so serious, we're making it a major element of our campaign to save services at the Horton General Hospital.

You can read all about it on our dedicated STP page.

You may also be interested in this film, which explores the effect of Government policy towards the NHS, including a film of a question and answer session between a retired GP, Sylvia Melville, and members of Banbury and Evesham Quakers AM.

Watch the film on You Tube here

Banbury and Evesham Quaker NHS video


2nd reading of the NHS Reinstatement Bill

4 November 2016

Keep the Horton General supporters joined campaign group Keep Our NHS Public and others from across the country in a protest outside Parliament on Friday 4 November 2016.

panorama of demonstration at 2nd reading of NHS bill

Timed to coincide with the second reading of the NHS Reinstatement Bill in the House of Commons, the demonstration saw campaign groups from Banbury, Oxford, Chorley, Grantham, Luton and Hammersmith join forces in the pouring rain outside Parliament. Larry Sanders (Green Party candidate for Witney, and brother of US Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders) also joined us. It gave us all a real sense that we are not alone - this is a national fight, there is lots of support out there and we can draw upon each others' strengths and achieve so much more together.

Professor Allyson Pollock (professor of public health policy at Barts & Queen Mary University of London) and barrister Peter Roderick, who together drafted the NHS Reinstatement Bill, made speeches to the assembled crowd. Dr Jacky Davies, Consultant Radiologist, author and NHS campaigner also spoke, as did Dr Tony O'Sullivan, co-chair of "Keep Our NHS Public" nationally, and Roseanne Edwards, health journalist and National Health Action Party parliamentary candidate for Banbury. It was a privilege listening to such incredibly knowledgeable and inspirational speakers.

Soaked to the skin, we retired to the Methodist Central Hall to await the conclusion of the bill. Lots of good connections were made as we chatted with the other campaigners over lunch, while we dried out!

Predictably and regrettably, the debate was "talked out". Rachael Maskell MP and Margaret Greenwood MP (introducer and sponsor of the bill) joined us after the debate to thank us for supporting them, and explain how the bill will be presented again at a future date. The two urged campaigners to approach their MPs, of whatever party, to ask them whether they were content that under the current Health and Social Care Act 2012 provisions, about 49% of beds are being turned over to private patients in hospitals that are going to be overwhelmed as district hospitals such as the Horton are downgraded.

KTHG chairman Keith Strangwood with MPs Rachael Maskell and Margaret Greenwood

KTHG chairman Keith Strangwood with MPs Rachael Maskell and Margaret Greenwood

All in all, a very wet and cold day but worthwhile for the connections made and the opportunity to spread the message that STP needs to be stopped. If the amount of honking from passing drivers is anything to go by, there is a great deal of support out there.

The last campaigners standing - everyone else had gone home by now

The last campaigners standing - everyone else had gone home by now

campaigners at 2nd reading of NHS bill

Campaigners at the 2nd reading of NHS bill

Bill sponsor Margaret Greenwood MP speaks to campaigners outside the 2nd reading of the NHS bill

Bill sponsor Margaret Greenwood MP speaks to campaigners outside the 2nd reading of the NHS bill

panorama of demonstration at 2nd reading of NHS bill

Bill sponsor Margaret Greenwood MP speaks one of our younger supporters

KTHG campaigner Kate Spencer at 2nd reading of NHS Reinstatement Bill

Campaigner at the 2nd reading of NHS bill

KTHG campaigner Audrey Thomas at 2nd reading of NHS Reinstatement Bill

Campaigner at the 2nd reading of NHS bill

panorama of demonstration at 2nd reading of NHS bill

Campaigners at the 2nd reading of NHS bill

What is the NHS Reinstatement Bill?

The NHS Reinstatement Bill was proposed on 13th July by Margaret Greenwood, Labour MP for Wirral West, and supported by nine other Labour MPs, Caroline Lucas (Green Party) and John Pugh (Lib Dem). The Bill proposes to fully restore the NHS as an accountable public service by reversing 25 years of marketization in the NHS, by abolishing the purchaser-provider split, ending contracting and re-establishing public bodies and public services accountable to local communities.

You can read more about the NHS Reinstatement Bill here.

Read Rachael Maskell's and Margaret Greenwood's speeches in full here.

Rachael Maskell MP speaks to reporter Roseanne Edwards

Rachael Maskell MP speaks to Banbury Guardian reporter Roseanne Edwards

Margaret Greenwood MP speaks to reporter Roseanne Edwards

Margaret Greenwood MP speaks to Banbury Guardian reporter Roseanne Edwards


Sing with the "Save Our Horton" Christmas Choir as Horton General Hospital staff "press the button"

27 November 2016

Banbury's made the news this year by declining to invite any obscure celebrities to switch on our Christmas Lights. Instead the Town Council has made the commendable decision to invite a member of staff from each of the departments that have suffered under the drastic cuts imposed by the Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust this year - Oak Ward, F Ward, maternity and SCBU. Staff members can be nominated and will be drawn by lottery.

To make the event extra-special, we're inviting you to join and sing with our "Save Our Horton" Christmas Choir!

We have 3 dates booked at St Mary's Centre for rehearsals:

Sunday 6th November at 3pm - 4-30 pm.
Sunday 13th November at 3pm - 4-30 pm.
Sunday 20th November at 3pm - 4-30 pm.

We are delighted to announce that the pianist /organist, musical director and accompanist of local well-known singing group IMPROMPTU will be coming along to help. Rehearsals will be taken by supporter Wendy.

If you want to join us please add your name to this event on facebook or email us on keepthehortongeneral@hotmail.co.uk so we know how many we are expecting!

Our thanks to Bob Dainty and to Philip Cochrane for arranging the room for us.

Christmas Choir


We are sorry to report that due to unforseen circumstances the boxing event has had to be cancelled. It would have been an amazing opportunity to see 3 World Boxing Champions in Banbury, and raise money for the Horton campaign at the same time, and we hope that the event will run in the new year instead.


4 November 2016

We're joining campaign group Keep Our NHS Public and others from across the country in a protest outside parliament on Friday 4 November 2016.

The demonstration is timed to coincide with the second reading of the NHS Reinstatement Bill in the Houses of Parliament.

Our coach will leave from in front of the Whately Hall Hotel at 9am on Friday 4 November, and we hope to return by 5.00 to 5.30pm. You can book a seat on the coach by leaving your name as a comment on this event on our facebook page or by emailing keepthehortongeneral@hotmail.co.uk

The cost is £10 per person, to go towards the cost of hiring the coach - however if this presents a problem, please email us in confidence.

What is the NHS Reinstatement Bill?

The NHS Reinstatement Bill was proposed on 13th July by Margaret Greenwood, Labour MP for Wirral West, and supported by nine other Labour MPs, Caroline Lucas (Green Party) and John Pugh (Lib Dem). The Bill proposes to fully restore the NHS as an accountable public service by reversing 25 years of marketization in the NHS, by abolishing the purchaser-provider split, ending contracting and re-establishing public bodies and public services accountable to local communities.

You can read more about the NHS Reinstatement Bill here.

coach to London


25 October 2016

On 25 October 2016, Victoria Prentis MP used a 10-minute-rule bill in the House of Commons to raise concerns over the safety of maternity services in Banbury. The bill, which passed its first reading, will bring into law a requirement that any trust must undertake a public consultation before they can instigate a massive service change such as the downgrading of consultant-led maternity and the closure of Oak Ward, if it passes its second reading on 27 January 2017.

Victoria speaks at 14:36pm. It's well worth watching.

Victoria Prentis uses 10-minute-rule bill to hightlight maternity concerns

You can read a transcript of Victoria Prentis' speech here.

Key points:

(In 2008) "the matter was referred to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel, which looked at the evidence in considerable detail and concluded that "there are major concerns over whether such a large unit as that being proposed" - at the John Radcliffe hospital -"would be (a) safe and (b) sustainable... There are sufficient concerns around ambulance provision and the transfer of very sick babies and mothers from Banbury to Oxford to call into question the safety of what is being proposed by the Trust."

"The traffic is dreadful and unpredictable; many of my constituents, myself included, go to enormous lengths to avoid driving into Oxford. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines make it clear that when an emergency C-section is needed, that must happen within 30 minutes. Once the transfer time is factored in, along with how long it takes to move a labouring mother into and out of an ambulance, that will be quite impossible from the Horton."

"I have repeatedly asked the trust to show me risk assessments, but have been sent nothing. My office eventually tracked down some risk assessments online that set out an alarming number of "high risk" factors, including transfer time, ambulance provision and the John Radcliffe's ability to cope with the additional births. I asked for an explanation and have received nothing. Without evidence, I struggle to accept that patient safety has been fully assessed, and the unit should have been staffed by locums and professionals from the trust's other sites while that was done thoroughly"

"I have considerable sympathy for those who believe this is part of a wider conspiracy to downgrade our local hospital......We fear that the situation this summer has been engineered to make that a fait accompli."

"I feel let down by the way we have been treated this summer, and by the lack of good management, transparency or evidence-based decision making."

"The clinical commissioning group has been notable by its silence."

"The Bill would increase the accountability of local trusts and commissioning authorities. When major changes to service provision are proposed, clinical groups and medical consortiums are not a replacement for public consultation."


Shocking news revealed at CPN

21 October 2016

This shocking news, revealed at Friday's CPN, deserves highlighting in its own article.

Only weeks after Banburyshire women were denied consultant-led maternity a safe distance from our homes, we now learn that access to consultant-led maternity JR will be restricted, with access denied to women who do not have an OX postcode or live in Brackley.

Head of planning, Andrew Stevens said the rule was meant to protect capacity at the JR for "local women" (by which we assume he means those first-class citizens local to Oxford) A clearer indication that the JR cannot cope with the Horton General Hospital's births could not possibly have been given.

At the CPN, South Northants MP Andrea Leadsom expressed intense displeasure that managers had not informed her of the new policy. "I was not aware the obstetric service was not available (to my constituents) at the JR until now," she said. "It is absolutely shocking that I'm not even able to give my constituents information on it."

Paul Brennan, director of clinical services, said the information had been available in the papers for the OUH board's AGM. Mrs Leadsom replied: "That is not good enough at all. I hope you are not suggesting I should trawl various papers I've never heard of to find information about my own constituency!"

Mrs Leadsom continued, "Around 60,000 of my constituents rely on the Horton and there are many more in the Stratford constituency. Our constituents have a massive stake on what happens at the Horton."

We understand that women who are "more than 20 weeks pregnant" will still be allowed to use the JR, although presumably that is 20 weeks pregnant at an undisclosed date, not a rolling 20 weeks. If you are concerned about whether or not you will need to find an alternative place to give birth, please talk to your midwife.

Welcome to the NHS under STP.


21 October 2016

The Community Partnership Network, the group of stakeholders with whom the OUH is required to discuss health plans, met on 21 October 2016.

The meeting started with a lengthy presentation by Diane Hedges of the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG). In summary, the OCCG say that if things continue as they are now there will be a significant shortfall in cash and resources as they are asked to cope with the anticipated increase in population. They acknowledged that there are inequalities existing across Oxfordshire in health outcomes and that the GPs are struggling in Banbury, which appeared to be having a knock-on to the A&E department. Ambulatory care will be used, modelled along the same lines as the JR, where they operate on the belief that "the best bed is your own bed" (we would counter that the best nurse is not likely to be your aging, infirm partner). It was hinted that Midwife Led Units should be used "in the right places" but the locations were not specified.

The phrase "trade offs" was widely used. It looks very much like paediatrics are also under threat, as we have predicted, followed close on the heels by A&E.

Andrea Leadsom MP challenged, stating that she was very concerned for her constituents who rely on the Horton. Mrs Leadsom said that one of the reasons she had, reluctantly, agreed to Brackley Cottage Hospital closing was because of the security of the Horton being close by. She said she was "horrified" that she had not been notified that the choice of delivering at the JR was to be stripped from residents of non-OX postcodes.

Victoria Prentis MP spoke next, challenging the "30mins on a blue light" travel times that had been quoted to the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC). She pointed out that 30 to 45 minutes on a blue light was more realistic, but journeys in excess of an hour were the reality for most. KTHG chair Keith Strangwood added that even the 45 minutes estimates did not take into account load and unload times, adding considerably to the overall time taken.

The debate turned to the nightmare of parking at the JR. A standard OUH patient information letter was presented to the CPN. The standard letter advises patients that they should allow "at least an hour to park". The OUH's Director of Clinical Services, Paul Brennan claimed to be unaware that letters of this nature went out!

Kieron Mallon, Town, District & County Councillor, spoke next and explained that he found the OUH's estimates of projected population increase over the next five years questionable, given the expected new build in and around Banbury. He also pointed out that they hadn't taken into account the new builds in Warwickshire and Northamptonshire, and the projected figures in the slide seemed to be very underestimated. Mr Mallon said: "At Cherwell District Council we estimate 200,000 people use Banbury for retail and for employment and for health, the figures are pretty much the same. The geography of Banbury goes against us. Figures for transport assessments and now hospitals do not take into account areas where counties meet. We need to look at figures overall that you are using." He added that it would not be long before at least 2,000 babies would be born at the Horton per year, under an obstetric service that has served the town well until October 3.

The trust was also challenged by a Consultant Anaesthetist. He felt the required numbers of obstetricians were being taken out of context, skewed in favour of the JR.

KTHG's Dr Peter Fisher asked some excellent questions as did Keith Strangwood and others. One of those related to the OCCG's refusal of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request on questionable grounds. We also requested that when the STP proposals come out for consultation that they are written in easily understandable language, with a good explantion to accompany it in laymens terms.

The Dean, Dr Bannon, then gave an account of the training steps that doctors have to follow. He said that many female doctors, who he said outnumber male doctors, presented "some problems due to length of time it takes to qualify and potential breaks to have their own families"!

He said the Horton had an excellent reputation for trainees, especially in the gynae department, but that due to the decreased numbers giving birth here, this didn't present enough births to extend this to obstetrics. He also acknowledged that the "domino effect" would affect paediatrics (the 24/7 Childrens Ward).

We know the reduction in birth numbers is due to the slow chipping away at the categories of women who are "allowed" to give birth at the Horton - every year, the Horton is deemed unable to cope with cases they have handled admirably for years. The explanation given for the fact that ladies with diabetes are now sent to the JR was that the diabetic-trained nurse had left, but there was no explanation as to why they didn't subsequently fill this post. When questioned as to why rotation was not employed to maintain obstetrics, the Dean said this was not possible for obstetrics - yet it is for other areas. The reasons given - that their contracts forbade it; governance; code of practice; and that "they needed to know where they would be" did not impress us, because none of these reasons would appear to be insurmountable, if the will were there.

The Dean said that in all his years, he had never seen his trainees so down and despondent - hardly surprising given the disgraceful junior doctors contract imposed by Jeremy Hunt.

Finally, it was mentioned that the Independent Reconfiguration Panel's recommendations did not seem to have been followed through. This did not receive a satisfactory answer.

In summary, it was a very long and at times dispiriting meeting, but there is no doubting the commitment of those speaking in favour of the Horton, and no doubt as to the feelings in the public gallery. We fight on.


21 October 2016

Big Hands up for the Halloween Bingo Team who raised £617 on Friday night at Banbury United. Thank you to Banbury United for allowing us to have the room for free, for the bar staff and our wonderful bingo caller Stewart Green, the Superstars Fundraising team, and all who donated prizes. Amazing support from all who came and enjoyed the evening. Special thanks to all of those who dressed up, and for the pumpkins, it was a fun filled evening and a nice break for us after the trial of the CPN meeting earlier in the day.

Bingo fundraiser for Save Our Horton


A little light relief!

20 October 2016

Lovely photo, by AR Photography, showing our banner on the Town Hall behind this year's new ride, "The King"

The King at Banbury Fair 2016


19 October 2016

Lord Paddy Ashdown travelled to Banbury yesterday (19 October) specifically to meet Keep the Horton members and pledge his support for the campaign. Around 30 campaigners met with the Liberal Democrat party grandee outside the main entrance of the Horton General Hospital, as passing motorists honked in support.

Lord Ashdown assured Chairman Keith Strangwood that the issue of the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) will be examined in parliament by a cross party group coordinated by MP Norman Lamb, and also promised to raise the issue with fellow Lords.

The meeting is further evidence that senior politicians are starting to take notice. Last week, Baroness Billingham of Banbury showed her support, accompanying us as we handed in our 20,000 signature petition at Downing Street.

Mr Strangwood said, "We now have various contacts within the House of Lords. We are optimistic that they will join together and oppose the draconian measures that Jeremy Hunt is attempting to force upon the NHS".

As we continue to fight for full services to be retained at the Horton General Hospital, the Oxford University Hospital Foundation Trust is struggling to manage the impact of its bed removal from HGH.

"Unfortunately our Facebook page is full of patient experiences in A&E. Long waits, nights spent on trolleys, photos of ambulances queuing outside to discharge their occupants. You don't need to be a scholar to predict what will happen if you remove a significant number of beds from wards. There are less available for those requiring admission," our exasperated Chairman observed, "and we are nowhere near the inevitable spike in admissions over the winter months".

Paddy Ashdown meets Horton campaigners and pledges support 19 October 2016
Paddy Ashdown meets Horton campaigners and pledges support 19 October 2016


Doctors' professional body says plans "can't be delivered"

18 October 2016

KTHG is delighted that the British Medical Association (BMA), the trade union and professional body for doctors in the UK, has come out strongly against the government's STP plans.

The following statement was published on the BMA's website on 18 October.
You can read the original article here.

STP rescue plans 'can't be delivered'

The Government's plans for pulling hospitals out of deficit are 'completely undeliverable', and subject to a timescale that may not enable them to be properly checked.

These are just two of the multiple warnings - of apparent increasing urgency - issued by hospital representatives, the NHS agency that oversees trusts, and the boards that scrutinise STPs (sustainability and transformation plans).

The BMA believes that STPs raise opportunities for collaboration and longer-term planning, but have concerns in areas such as funding and accountability.

According to ministers, hospitals will be pulled out of deficit next year by rolling out STPs, which are being put together by local health leaders, commissioners, and councils in 44 areas across England.

But the credibility of the rescue strategy is now being called into question - most recently last week in Parliament, but also in official papers released by councils and NHSI (NHS Improvement), which oversees both foundation and other NHS trusts.

"Completely undeliverable"

Last week, NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson told members of the Commons health select committee that unprecedented financial deficits faced by many hospitals risked 'blowing up' STPs.

Hospital leaders were being forced to agree plans they knew would bust future budgets, he added. "Funding is going to drop, so they're now looking at a set of figures that, to be frank, just look completely undeliverable."

Mr Hopson's warning comes after NHSI indicated its own timetable for checking STPs was too tight. According to NHSI board papers, the agency and NHS England have less than a month to assess, offer feedback, and sign off all 44 finalised STPs.

Concerns across England

Last year, officials had three months to check and approve NHS plans. "The timetable [for checking STPs] is extremely challenging," the papers state.

Warnings about STPs have also been flagged in papers produced by HWBs (health and wellbeing boards), the groups of health and local authority leaders who scrutinise STPs in town halls across England. A review of HWB papers from the past few months reveals a litany of concerns about STPs:

Lancashire HWB pointed last month to 'significant concerns'. about the time it had left to get feedback from doctors on its plan.

Papers from the HWB in Solihull warn its joint STP with Birmingham - one of the largest in England - missed by three months a June milestone to submit a 'financial template'. While their joint plan had not yet proposed 'significant closures or changes' to healthcare, NHS England had suggested 'significant efficiencies' must be found, while patient care and outcomes were improved.

York's HWB said in July that the 'nationally' driven agenda of STPs 'might not be what the community wants' and that there had been 'little time for public engagement'.

Need for full consideration

BMA representative body chair Anthea Mowat said there is 'great concern that STPs are not financially viable'. "In order to maximise the benefits from STPs, the NHS, public health and social care functions need to be adequately resourced," she said. "The tight timescale to sign off STPs risks decisions being made without full consideration of the implications for patients and for staff, and without proper governance procedures being in place."

NHSI said the STP process was led 'locally' and 'built on months of collaboration between clinicians, patients' representatives and other partners'.

"Local STP teams have to be sure that their plans are deliverable, robust and meet the needs of their local population," the spokesperson added.

Anthea Mowatt, BMA, said there is 'great concern that STPs are not financially viable'

Above: the BMA's Anthea Mowatt says "there is great concern that STPs are not financially viable"


Horton General Hospital featured in national Guardian article

18 October 2016

We've been trying to get the attention of the national press and TV for months, and finally Polly Toynbee of the (national) Guardian has picked up on our campaign, using us as a case study in an article entitled "Jeremy Hunt can't fix the NHS. No one now believes a word he says".

Unfortunately, she's been swayed by the trust's silver tongues. Despite reporting "A vociferous local Keep the Horton General campaign gathered 5,000 people to hold hands round the hospital, amid longstanding suspicions that it might be axed despite a plan to rebuild it. Every party supports the protest, with their Tory MP as militant as the rest. She says she doesn't trust the management: "They make decisions about us without us." She and the campaigners mistrust whatever they are told."; she concludes "Talking to both sides, I am inclined to believe the managers' good faith."

And that's the problem. How could anyone impartial believe that those in charge of our healthcare are knowingly making decisions that everyone else involved condemns as unsafe? From Jeremy Hunt and Simon Stevens to our local trust, there are other motivations at work.

You can read the article in full here.


14 October 2016

Just a few words about the Remembrance tree planted this morning in People's Park by Victoria Prentis MP and Karen Hancox, representing SANDS. We respect that this is a very sensitive subject to discuss, but it is comforting to know that there is support out there for bereaved parents and hopefully now a greater understanding and awareness.

We would like to take this opportunity of thanking both Victoria and Karen for planting our ribbon tree on behalf of the community. We would like to thank the Town Council for granting permission for the tree to be planted and helping facilitate this and again to Nicholsons Nurseries for the donation of the tree. We are hoping that the Town Council may let us plant some snowdrops under the tree in due course and to erect a dedication plaque. This week is "Baby Loss Awareness Week" so the planting today was particularly poignant. It brought a tear to my eye seeing several people attaching their ribbons to the tree as we left the park. Thinking of all of you out there reading this post that may have been touched by these tragic events.

Victoria Prentis and Karen Hancox plant our Tree of Remembrance in Peoples Park

Victoria Prentis and Karen Hancox plant our Tree of Remembrance in Peoples Park, 14 October 2016.

Karen Hancox, representing SANDS, said, "I was very honoured to be there - to represent all our Oxfordshire families - who have suffered the tragic death of a precious baby. Anyone who would like to know more about Oxfordshire Sands can visit our website www.oxfordshiresands.org.uk and you can find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/oxfordshiresands/. As volunteers who have all lost a baby - we offer support in various ways, including our Online Remembrance Book - to those long-ago bereaved, as well as more recently bereaved parents. Thank you to Save the Horton for the idea. Holding close in thought all those at the tree planting ceremony who have experienced their own sad loss. We stand together to #breakthesilence this Baby Loss Awareness Week. We will be lighting our candles tomorrow night, 15th October, in special memory of all our Oxfordshire babies - for the GLOBAL WAVE OF LIGHT - to remember all the babies that have died during pregnancy, at, during or after birth. Read more about this here http://babyloss-awareness.org/"



13 October 2016

Victoria Prentis made this powerful and emotional speech on Baby Loss Awareness Day (13 October). Watch to the end, as she goes on to mention her fears about the changes to the maternity unit at the Horton General Hospital.

Towards the end of her speech, Victoria lays the blame squarely at the door of the trust, saying "If my labouring mothers travel in their own car - of course, not all of them have one - the journey can easily take up to an hour and a half, depending on where they live and on the state of the Oxford traffic. The decision to downgrade the service was taken on safety grounds, as the trust had failed to recruit enough obstetricians, but I must say that I have severe safety concerns for the mothers and babies in our area.

"In 2008, an Independent Reconfiguration Panel report concluded that the distance was too far for our unit to be downgraded. As I see it, nothing has changed except that the Oxford traffic has worsened. I am keen, generally, that we start to be kinder to mothers during pregnancy and birth, and in my view, that does not mean encouraging them to labour in the back of the car on the A34."

The link is to the video posted on Victoria Prentis' facebook page.

Victoria Prentis speaks in parliament on Baby Loss Awareness Day

You can read a transcript of Victoria Prentis' speech here.


Nine pages of support gathered

13 October 2016

Supporter Miss M Hanmer has gone the extra mile and surveyed over one hundred residents of her village. The motions, "Support adopt a ward in any part of local hospital", "Problem arises - put to a patient vote before a decision is made", and "If a shortage of doctors puts patient safety ar risk, then there should be a government debate" received overwhelming yes responses.

Names and addresses have been redacted or obscured for privacy reasons.

residents survey on the threats to the Horton General Hospital


Horton campaigners hand in 19,000 signature petition at Downing Street

10 October 2016

A coachload of Keep the Horton General supporters joined campaigners from Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Chorley, Redditch, Stafford, Epsom, Barnstaple, Grantham and Lewisham in London today, 10 October 2016.

The protesters marched from Trafalgar Square, via 10 Downing Street - where Keep the Horton General campaigners presented Banbury's 19,000-strong petition against cuts at the Horton General Hospital to the Department of Health, with the aid of Baroness Billingham of Banbury. The march continued at Parliament Square where media interviews were recorded.

Dozens of great photos to follow when time permits.

KTHG campaigners at the Houses of Parliament
KTHG campaigners at the Houses of Parliament

Photos: Mark Bigelow


National London Rally plus petition to be handed in at No10 Downing St

Horton General Hospital Campaigners are joining with other campaign groups from across the UK on Monday 10th October, as part of a national rally against the government's Sustainability & Transformation Plans. These plans, known as STP, will see the NHS split up into 44 "footprints" which must compete against each other and deliver budget surpluses. Across the country, this is translating into the decimation of local services in towns like Banbury, as trusts seek to save money by centralising services wherever they can.

Campaigners are coming from threatened hospitals in Dewsbury, Chorley, Huddersfield, Redditch, Grantham, Barnstaple, Wycombe, Lambeth, St Helier (Surrey), Lewisham and other towns.

We will be marching from Trafalgar Square via Downing Street where we will hand in Banbury's 19,000-strong petition to the Department of Health, and then march on to Parliament Square. We will have Keep Our Horton General placards and banners but you are encouraged to bring your own if you want to.

Want to join us?

Our coach leaves the Whately Hall at 9.30am and will return at 4pm from Embankment. If you would like a place on the coach please contact us via this facebook post, indicating the number of seats required. We would appreciate a voluntary donation of £10 which will be collected by means of circulating a bag around the coach, but please, do not let this deter you; if you can't afford it just simply pass the bag on.

Front door of No.10 Downing Street


7 October 2016

Oak Ward closed on 7 October 2016. Oak Ward delivered acute general medicine services to mainly elderly patients. The Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) was highly critical of the closure which the trust had sought to slip through claiming it wasn't a big enough change to warrant consultation. HOSC disagreed, and a consultation will now be started by January 2017.

Commenting on facebook, one user wrote, "Very miserable mood today on Oak ward, lots of confusion and worry within the patients and nursing staff, I'm not sure anyone really knows what's going on. Today we loose Oak Ward and some of the amazing staff with it, I believe F Ward is moving into part of the area but what happens to the empty sections I'm not sure who knows. There has also been talk today of E Ward closing, but I'm not sure how definite that is. So very, very sad."

In response to our letter to the trust, which facebook group members were encouraged to adapt and use in their own letter to the trust, Paul Brennan commented (our emphasis), "The stage two bed realignment proposal was considered by the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the Committee concluded that the plans for acute bed and service reconfiguration constitute a substantial service change that requires consultation. However agreement was reached between the OUH and HOSC that the scope of the 'Rebalancing the System' pilot will be extended to incorporate the stage two proposals and no changes will therefore be made that are irreversible. The pilot outcomes will be used as evidence to support the transformation consultation in January 2017. If the transformation consultation is delayed further the CCG will hold a 12 week consultation on this proposal (bed realignment across the Trust which includes Oak and F Ward at the HGH) starting in January 2017. The proposal to integrate Oak Ward and F Ward will proceed in a manner that is not irreversible and will be subject to the conditions set by HOSC as stated above."


How has it come to this?

6 October 2016

Here's some photos of the temporary obstetric theatre, now being built on some disabled spaces in the JR's already over-stretched carpark. This, rather than employ locums or rotation to keep our own unit fully operational. In 21st century Britain, how has it come to this?

Mobile theatre at the John Radcliffe, Oct 16
Mobile theatre at the John Radcliffe, Oct 16
Mobile theatre at the John Radcliffe, Oct 16


Save Our Horton supporters go the extra 13 miles!

October 2016

Horton supporters are going the extra mile - and then some - raising awareness of the threats faced by the Horton General Hospital.

Stuart Newman has run four half-marathons in Cheltenham, Bournmouth, Oxford, and Birmingham raising awareness for the campaign and funds for Katharine House Hospice. Speaking after the Bournmouth run, Mr Newman said "Happy to have finished in the top 100 inside a record time for me of 1:29:50. Managed to get the Horton t-shirt in plenty of pics and once again got talking to loads of people about what's happening to our Horton, everyone of course, supportive of us and this group...!"

composite photo of marathon runner Stuart Newman

Simon Evans and his Dad Clive ran the Oxford half marathon on Sunday 9th October for the Horton Fighting Fund, raising £500 in the process. "Without the care and assistance of the Horton for my joint problems there is no way I would be running today. A reduction in services will have a major impact on the vulnerable as well as expectant mothers. My sister had her care transferred to Warwick or the JR, travelling there and back for four days during an extended labour and her husband had to travel 20 miles each way to be with her. Reduction in A&E will result in deaths so it's important these services are protected," said Mr Evans.

marathon runners Simon Evans and his 80 year old father

Gemma Gilbert and partner also ran the Oxford half-marathon, raising awareness of the threats to the Horton. Well done to all and thanks for helping us to raise awareness in Oxford - the JR is already overwhelmed with patients, and people in Oxford have no idea how much worse it's about to get....

marathon runners Gemma Gilbert and partner


3 October 2016

This post, from our facebook team on 3 October, sums up a tumultuous and sad day at the Horton General Hospital.

"What a day we have had. We welcomed the first baby born in the MLU and congratulations to them all.

We have heard of the baby being born in the foyer of maternity at the weekend, as the JR didn't answer its phones.The family decided it was better to get to A&E in Banbury and was rushed to maternity. We hope mother and baby are doing well and would appreciate knowing how they are faring, please get in touch.

We wished the midwives and SCBU staff well as many dispersed elsewhere; we hope the ones going to Oxford will soon be returned to us and that those moving on will be happy in their new jobs.

We have also heard of the collective grievance brought against the trust by the midwives. We hope this one will be investigated thoroughly and we will be monitoring its progress.

We saw a picture tonight which conveyed a thousand words, the A&E is essential to us all judging by how busy both the Horton and the JR are this evening. We spare a thought for the people in the back of the ambulances and wish them a speedy and full recovery. We feel sad that the ambulance crews, doctors, and nurses are under so much pressure and add our thanks to their dedication.

Tomorrow we must resume with our letter writing to get these conditions changed, with your help we can make a difference. Thank you to all the new members that have joined us today, it is easy to add new members, just click on the link at the top of the page. The more support we can muster the better our chances of success. Thank you for sticking with us. If there continues to be any worried expectant mothers out there, please send me a pm."

If you have a facebook account, please join our facebook group Save Our Horton - it's a passionate and fast-moving group of more than 16,000 members where you are certain to get the latest updates as soon as they happen.

First baby born at the Horton General Hospital's MLU, 3 October 2016

The first baby born at the Horton General Hospital's MLU, 3 October 2016. Photo courtesy of Tracy Storey via our facebook group

A sad sight - ambulance on duty, first night as an MLU, 3 October 2016

A sad sight - ambulance on duty, first night as an MLU, 3 October 2016


3 October 2016

Midwives at the Horton General Hospital in Banbury have submitted a formal grievance against their employers. It follows the decision to temporarily change the unit to midwife led, due to the trust's failure to recruit doctors.

The collective grievance - submitted via the GMB union - says staff have not been consulted properly over the change and the impact on their jobs.

The GMB's Banbury branch secretary Stevie Robertson said there had been a lack of genuine consultation and that staff "feel like they have been dictated to". He said: "morale is at an all time low...a number of staff are in the process of giving in their notice because they feel so strongly about the way they've been treated."


3 October 2016

We would like to say a huge "Thank You" to our team of Superstar Fundraisers and all of the people that helped on the stall today at Banbury's Canal Day Event.

We are grateful to the Town Council for allowing us to have a pitch and we hope everyone enjoyed the autumnal sunshine and all the attractions.

We really appreciate the band of volunteers that have given up two weekends to help, well done to you all. We would also like to thank all the members of public for supporting the stall and signing the petition. With last weekends funds and this, over £5,000 has been raised - a staggering sum.

Just goes to show how much the public love and value the Horton General Hospital and its staff.

Save Our Horton supporters at Canal Day
Save Our Horton supporters at Canal Day


30 September 2016

The Oxfordshire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee met on Friday 30 September to discuss the temporary downgrading of the Horton General Hospital's consultant-led maternity unit to a midwife-led unit, due to the trust's failure to recruit effectively, and the closure of Oak Ward.

Keep the Horton General Campaigners had hoped that the influential committee would refer the trust's decision to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel via the Secretary of State for Health. To this end we had submitted quantities of evidence and arranged for four members of KTHG to speak at the meeting. Unfortunately, while the trust had a full hour to put their case, we had only three minutes each, and no right to challenge the trust's claims.

HOSC numbers were down due to a no-show and the recent resignation of one member who has not yet been replaced. Despite strong showings from supportive members, the vote was lost by 5 to 3.

There were, however, some positives.

The trust was made to confirm that once there are sufficient middle grades appointed they will reopen Consultant Led Maternity, whether the 3 month consultation has started or not. It is imperative that this is minuted and we will be checking to see that this is recorded.

We also have the opportunity to provide counter-evidence to some of the trust's claims.

The majority of HOSC members were sympathetic to our cause. Most of those voting against referral did so only on the narrow issue before them of whether there was any option other than closure at this stage and in order not to lose control of the issue, which they felt would happen with a lengthy IRP process. HOSC intend to monitor the trust via regular updates regarding adverts, interviews and appointments.

We are optimistic that if the trust's emerging options (May 16) are issued as proposals for a major downgrade we will receive support from HOSC.

HOSC also discussed the closure of Oak Ward. The trust thought they had managed to slip this downgrade through under the radar, but HOSC agreed with KTHG's view that the closure represents a substantial change and should be subject to a consultation. After much discussion, it was finally agreed that a consultation on the closure of Oak Ward would be included as part of the impending consultation on the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP), unless the STP consultation is delayed beyond January 2017, in which case Oak Ward will be subject to its own consultation in January. In the interim, the changes will continue, but there is much to fight for, and this is not the end by any means.



Article by Nick Bostock in GP Online, 28 September 2016

The timescale imposed by NHS England for developing sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) has been condemned as 'ridiculous' and 'shameful' by the former head of its commissioning policy unit, writes Nick Bostock in GP Online.

Julia Simon, until earlier this month the head of NHS England's commissioning policy unit and its co-commissioning of primary care programme director, said forcing health and care organisations to come together so quickly to draw up the complex plans was likely to backfire.

Up against tight deadlines, organisations were likely to make unrealistic financial forecasts and claims about benefits to patient care, she warned.

Speaking to GPonline at a London healthcare conference, Ms Simon said the timescale imposed on health and care organisations to draw up STPs was 'unrealistic' and 'an unfair ask'.

"Everyone will submit a plan, because they have to," Ms Simon said. "But it means there is a lot of blue sky thinking and then you have a lot of lies in the system about the financial position, benefits that will be delivered - it's just a construct, not a reality."

Hastily drawn-up plans would lead to financial problems, she said. "Ultimately it means bankruptcy in some areas."

Ms Simon warned that STP areas had not been given enough time to develop and embed trust between the 'players involved'.

Some areas, she said, could build on relationships that already existed between different organisations across primary and acute services, and health and social care. But in others there was a legacy of bad relationships and disagreement that could undermine effective planning.

Speaking during a debate at the Commissioning in Healthcare conference in London on Wednesday, she also questioned the lack of patient and public involvement in STPs - dubbed 'secret NHS plans' by critics.

"I haven't seen any genuine patient and public engagement yet," said the former NHS England official. "I think it is entirely driven by the speed that NHS England has imposed on this process which is, frankly, kind of mad.

"It's mad. I think we will see a lot of catching up on that end, but to do that right, to do a statutory consultation - it's three months. They don't have three months." Referring to the speed at which STPs were being asked to draw up plans, she said it was "actually shameful, the way we have done it".

Other speakers at the event also questioned the pace at which STPs were being brought together.

Nuffield Trust policy fellow Holly Holder said many people within CCGs that her research team had spoken to 'seem to think there is a role for something at STP level'.

But she said that where in the past relationships had been built up over time between health and care organisations to drive integration, "now areas are working together where those relationships do not exist, and they have to form those relationships very quickly, and that is difficult to do".

NHS Clinical Commissioners co-chair Graham Jackson also said the timeframe and secrecy around STPs had been ridiculous.

Read the original article on GP Online here

Julia Simon

Former head of NHS England's commissioning policy unit, Julia Simon


Coaches organised, join us if you can!

It's a busy week for campaigners, with the trust AGM (Wednesday 28th Sept), the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group board meeting and AGM (Thursday 29th Sept), and the critically important Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (Friday 30th Sept) all within a few days of each other in Oxford.

HOSC are the committee who can refer bad health decisions to the Secretary of State for Health. He is pretty much obliged by precedent to refer the decision to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel. This could be a lifeline for the campaign because it was the IRP who over-ruled the trust in 2007/8. Four KTHG members have been given permission to address the meeting on Friday.

Want to join us?

We still have a few spaces left on our free coach for Friday's HOSC meeting. We're leaving from in front of the Whately Hall Hotel at 9am sharp ready for the 10am meeting in Oxford. To book a space, leave your name on this facebook post as soon as possible.

Campaign bus


25 September 2016

What a great event! The Teddy Bears' Picnic and Autum Fete was hugely enjoyed by young and old, and raised nearly £4,000 for our fighting fund as well. An amazing job and huge thanks to all who got involved to put this together in just two weeks!

Popular attractions included a giant teddy bear, name the teddy bear competition, a special Horton themed Hook Norton ale, flashdance, children's rides, Daisy's shire horse rides, music by the "Saw Lady", and much more.

We also invited people to tie a ribbon to our Tree of Remembrance for babies who didn't make it. The tree, kindly donated by Nicholson's Nurseries, will be planted in Peoples Park.

Check out some of our favourite images from the day, below.

Teddy bears picnic in aid of KTHG funds to Save Our Horton
Teddy bears picnic in aid of KTHG funds to Save Our Horton
Teddy bears picnic in aid of KTHG funds to Save Our Horton
Teddy bears picnic in aid of KTHG funds to Save Our Horton
Teddy bears picnic in aid of KTHG funds to Save Our Horton
Teddy bears picnic in aid of KTHG funds to Save Our Horton
Teddy bears picnic in aid of KTHG funds to Save Our Horton
Teddy bears picnic in aid of KTHG funds to Save Our Horton
Teddy bears picnic in aid of KTHG funds to Save Our Horton
Teddy bears picnic in aid of KTHG funds to Save Our Horton
Teddy bears picnic in aid of KTHG funds to Save Our Horton
Teddy bears picnic in aid of KTHG funds to Save Our Horton
Teddy bears picnic in aid of KTHG funds to Save Our Horton
Teddy bears picnic in aid of KTHG funds to Save Our Horton
Teddy bears picnic in aid of KTHG funds to Save Our Horton
Teddy bears picnic in aid of KTHG funds to Save Our Horton
Teddy bears picnic in aid of KTHG funds to Save Our Horton
Teddy bears picnic in aid of KTHG funds to Save Our Horton


23 September 2016

We love how the community pulls together to support the Horton General Hostpital. Here's a great example - Hook Norton Brewery have crafted an all-new brew called "Hands Off Our Horton" just in time for the Teddy Bear's picnic on Sunday.

Hands Off Our Horton ale by Hook Norton Brewery


Spiceball Park, Sunday 25 Sept, 12.00 - 4.30pm

Our next event! Building on the amazing community spirit seen at our recent protests, we're helping to organise a traditional Autumn Fete and Teddy Bears' Picnic to raise awareness and campaigning funds. The original idea came from Emma Gold and Siemon Edgington, and the idea grew as members of the Save Our Horton facebook group brought more and more ideas and offers of help.

So bring your picnic and teddy bears along as we celebrate our Horton babies of all ages!

Attractions include pony rides, bouncy castle, fire engine courtesy of Oxfordshire Fire & Rescue, Hook Norton Brewery's beer tent, Banbury's first Flash Dance, penalty football, bowling, teas, cakes, books stall, bric-a-brac, bubbles, guess the name of the teddy, lucky dips, and hot food including pizza and burgers. The event will be opened by Victoria Prentis MP

On a more serious note, we will be starting a memory tree in remembrance of our Horton babies who tragically didn't make it.

So come along, join in, and help us send a clear message back to Oxford that our support is growing stronger every day to resist these plans which affect each and every one of us.

Click here to download the poster.

teddy bears picnic poster 25 september 2016


Trust reps get a 'very sharp rebuke' from Chair

Oxfordshire's influential Health and Overview Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) met at County Hall, Oxford, on Thursday 15 September. Responsible for overseeing safe and adequate health provision for all Oxfordshire residents, HOSC members discussed the Horton General hospital in Banbury at length.

Prior to Item 8 - "Obstetrics and the Strategic Review (The Horton Hospital)" - Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust (OUHFT) representatives, Paul Brennan and Andrew Stevens, received a 'very sharp rebuke' from Chairperson Yvonne Constance, due to the Trust's removal of beds from Oak Ward and F ward at the Horton, with no prior warning. Members of staff were only aware after the event confirming there had been no consultation or communication beforehand.

For Keep the Horton General (KTHG) attendees, item 8 was of significant importance. KTHG Chairman Keith Strangwood was allowed three minutes to make his representation, along with a statement by local MP Victoria Prentis read by her assistant and Cherwell District Council's position given by Councillor Lawrie Stratford.

It appeared that Yvonne Constance was close to referring the matter to the Secretary of State for Health but stayed her judgement until 30th September. At a meeting on that date, previously arranged to discuss the implications of the Five Year Sustainability Plan (STP), the OUHFT will have to credibly justify its claim that they have secured reasonable safe provision for the transfer of mothers, in need of emergency care during labour, to Oxford.

The Chairperson 'ridiculed the proposal for a 24/7 standby ambulance and emphasised that she wanted to see the risk assessment in terms of travel time to all alternative hospitals other than the John Radcliffe'.

"We look forward to the meeting on the 30th," concluded Keith Strangwood.


Efforts to recruit doctors for the Horton's maternity department have been "shambolic" and need to be investigated by the Care Quality Commission, a campaigner says.

Sophie Bidwell said Oxford University Hospitals Trust (OUH) appeared unable to undertake 'basic tasks' such as advertising, even after an emergency meeting of the Trust Board had been promised it had made strenuous efforts to recruit and would continue to do so.

Mrs Bidwell, of Banbury, whose life was saved by Horton consultants when she suffered a major haemorrhage while giving birth last year, has been a vocal opponent of the OUH's plan to replace consultant-led obstetrics with a midwife-only unit from October 2. The move would mean a 25-mile dash to the JR, Oxford for any mother developing life-threatening complications during delivery.

The OUH says it has advertised but failed to appoint essential middle grade doctors and has no alternative to moving births to Oxford for reasons of safety. It says the move is temporary and the full service would be reinstated when posts have been filled.

Mrs Bidwell wrote to clinical director Paul Brennan last week complaining there was no trace of any advertisements in the British Medical Journal or NHS Jobs websites.

"I would like to know why advertising has ceased? If there are still vacancies, I am sure those on the board who questioned the effort being put into recruitment during last week's meeting will be particularly interested to know why there are no adverts for these posts on two of the most relevant job websites for medical professions.

"Scarcely a week has passed since the decision to temporarily downgrade the Horton's maternity unit and close Special Care Baby Unit. At the meeting you said you would not stop trying to (recruit), indeed you would redouble your efforts. If the posts are still vacant I'm afraid it will appear to the general public, once again, as though the Trust is saying one thing and doing quite another."

Mr Brennan's one-line reply said the Trust would respond to all stakeholders rather than responding to individual requests.

Mrs Bidwell replied: "This shambolic, meagre effort to recruit is wholly unacceptable and I hope sincerely this is investigated by the Care Quality Commission as well as the national media. An independent consultant needs to be brought in to oversee recruitment of doctors, since you appear unable to undertake such basic tasks as actually advertising the posts.

"I do not believe it is unreasonable for the Trust to be asked to provide weekly public updates concerning the number of adverts and locations of these, in addition to the number of interviews and job offers, if it has nothing to hide," she wrote.

"The only way the Trust is going to salvage any goodwill from Banbury is by being transparent and following up its claimed commitment to retaining obstetrics at the Horton, with the necessary action to do so."

The Trust's efforts to recruit were previously criticised by Banbury MP Victoria Prentis, who said: "I firmly believe the Trust could have done more to recruit enough consultants. I really hope this decision is short term and the recruitment process will continue so that a full service can resume as soon as possible."

Article originally published in the Banbury Guardian, 16 September 2016.


Medics in Banbury have come up with an innovative 'third option' to save the future of Banbury maternity services. The maternity hospital is due to be downgraded to a midwife-only unit starting on October 3. Midwives believe the remaining Horton service would survive only a few months.

Experts have drawn up a business case for a new idea to keep the maternity unit active while offering dedicated training to Oxford staff. In the plan, the John Radcliffe Hospital would send its routine, planned Caesarean section births to be carried out in Banbury's fully kitted-out delivery suite theatres. Having the operations done here would:

  • enable the post natal ward and Special Care Baby Unit to be maintained
  • help protect the future of the children's ward
  • ease anticipated pressure on JR staff and obstetric and gynaecology facilities and
  • prevent unnecessary expense hiring a portable operating theatre at the JR to house gynaecology ops to make way for planned Caesareans.

The experts have cited parts of an OUHFT contingengy plan that admit to a worrying logjam of births at Oxford. The infrastructure is already in place in Banbury and, importantly, allowing the Horton to be kept in use would:

  • prevent inevitable resignations of midwives and SCBU staff being forced to transfer their work to Oxford and
  • facilitate the smooth return to full consultant-led maternity as soon as sufficient doctors have been recruited; a move the trust has assured the Board it wishes to make.

The business case says the OUHFT contingency plan describes a 'major challenge facing OUHFT' being 'emergency theatre time, post-operative recovery beds, anaesthetists and theatre staff'. The experts' plan claims to eradicate concerns over staffing, availability of beds, weekend gynaecology operating lists and delivery theatre suite availability at the JR. The 'third option' suggests the Horton maternity unit would undertake up to four Caesarean section operations per day, seven days a week, potentially 28 a week, easing pressure at the JR immensely. One of the experts said: "Staff at the JR have already expressed concerns to management about staffing levels, sickness levels and infrastructure for the present birth rate at the JR, before the predicted 19 extra births per week from October 3."

Because of the comprehensive nature of the Horton unit, all midwives are already fully trained in all aspects of delivery, including theatre nursing, all categories of Caesareans, post operative and post natal care, so no extra staff or training would be necessary. The Care Quality Commission scored Banbury over the JR for patient satisfaction and the experts believe patient experience would also be maintained by this third option.

"This third option will complement the midwife-only unit, save the trust money, utilize and maintain current systems of operation and ensure swift and smooth reopening of the full Horton Maternity Unit once middle grade doctors are employed," they say. "It will also help repair the lack of trust in OUH displayed at the recent public meeting at St Mary's Church, Banbury. It may also help to retain staff at the Horton and JR."

The plan would also reduce costs on bank staff needed in the event of expected resignations and disruption to operating lists at the JR which would help the trust avoid expensive fines for missing targets.

Article originally published in the Banbury Guardian, 6 September 2016.


The Keep the Horton General Campaign is raising money to pay for campaign costs, including instructing specialist Lawyers, Leigh Day, to seek legal redress to challenge the Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust's decision to remove Consultant-Led Maternity and Special Care Baby Unit from the Horton General Hospital without sufficient public consultation, to the detriment of the large catchment of residents.

Please support this legal challenge and the wider campaign by donating to the fund at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/SaveOurHorton.



A video of the board meeting, on 31 August 2016, at which the board voted to temporarily remove obstetrics from the Horton General Hospital and voted to replace it temporarily with a Midwife Led Unit is available on youtube.

Board meeting 31 August 2016


Joint letter and statement from all Political Parties in the Banbury Constituency.

To whom it may concern

Following the Oxford NHS Trust Board's extraordinary meeting about the suspension of obstetric services at the Horton General Hospital, we as representatives of all the main Political Parties in the Banbury Constituency wish to put on record our concerns and to show a unified front in support of the staff at our hospital and the Keep the Horton General committee. This unity amongst Politicians of the area is almost unprecedented and shows that as we stood together the last time the services were under threat ten years ago, so we are today, united in opposition to the decision taken.

We have major concerns about the way in which the Trust has communicated their plans, and the recruitment process itself. They now say they will aim to recruit for January,so we hope they will do all that is possible to meet their own deadline. Downgrading the unit to a midwife-only service, leading to women in labour having to travel to the John Radcliff consultant-led unit an hour's drive away, will put the lives of both mothers and babies at risk.

We believe the decision to downgrade the service at the Horton, even on a temporary basis is wrong. We can't understand why the Trust has not implemented locum support or temporary cover until recruitment is successful. Indeed if it is seen as fair for a pregnant mother in difficulty to travel to Oxford then surely a temporary measure of a consultant travelling to Banbury is feasible?

We also ask the Trust that any decision taken on this issue will not impact on other acute services at the Horton..

Political Parties locally will continue to put our own lesser differences aside and support Keep The Horton General, and together will monitor the Trust and its stated aims to recruit for the new year to secure the future of the Horton General Hospital for our constituents and the residents we serve.

Yours sincerely

Cllr Kieron Mallon Conservative Group Leader, Banbury Town Council
Cllr Steve Kilsby Labour Group Leader, Banbury Town Council
Cllr John Howson Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate 2015
Cllr David Williams Green Party Leader, Oxfordshire County Council
Mr. Dickie Bird UKIP Chairman Oxfordshire

Letter dated 2 September 2016



At a board meeting yesterday afternoon (31 August 2016), Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUHFT) decided to suspend Consultant led Maternity Services at Horton General Hospital in Banbury.

Keep the Horton General campaign group (KTHG) instructed lawyers at Leigh Day earlier in the week. Lawyers sent a letter to the Trust on behalf of KTHG prior to the decision, setting out that a reduction of services would breach the Trust's obligation to involve patients in its decision making on service provision. The Trust did not consult members of the public in relation to the decision.

The reduction leaves only one midwife and one assistant to care for expectant mothers and babies for a population of nearly 47,000. Campaigners claim that OUHFT has made inadequate attempts to recruit replacement staff.

KTHG now awaits the Trust's reply to the letter, before discussing with its lawyers about what steps to take next. This follows a summer-long campaign, in which campaigners, politicians and staff fought a tough battle to keep the Maternity Unit intact.

Meanwhile, residents from Banbury have made their feelings known at a series of events, including two demonstrations at the Maternity Unit; Banbury's biggest ever public protest 'Hands Around the Horton', at which 5,000 people joined hands in a symbolic circle of protection around the hospital; two awareness-raising market stalls; support and publicity at Fairport Convention and ultimately, taking to the stage to publicly question and challenge the Trust at St Mary's.

"We could not have done any more,"" said Keith Strangwood, Chairman of KTHG. "We have done our utmost to get the message out to the public of Banburyshire that the OUHFT are hell bent on destroying our hospital. As long as we have a representative standing, we will fight on."


1 September 2016


We think you're going to like this, supporters.

The GPs have done us proud and their support could not be clearer or more welcome at this critical time.

Click here for a pdf of the GPs' damning letter.

Letter from GPs to Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Clinical Commissioning Group, Oxford University Hospitals Trust and Keep the Horton General Campaign



The Trust Directors are meeting on Wednesday 31st August - just a few days from now - to decide the future of our maternity unit. This could be the action that causes everything we value at the Horton General Hospital to topple like dominoes.

So this is an URGENT request to everyone who has emailed the OCCG via their GP, or written to their MP, or has left a message on our facebook group, or who has not yet got round to writing.

Please, take the letter or message you have written, tweak it if you have to, and then send it to all these people. (You should be able to copy and paste this entire list into the "To" box in your email)

More influential people, albeit not on the board:

We suspect that once the letters start to flood their inboxes, they will filter messages containing the word "Horton" so they are not inconvenienced. To counter this, please copy in keepthehortongeneral@hotmail.co.uk so we know how many they received.

If your email provider allows it, you could set a Read Request on your email so you can see if they've opened it.

Thank you for taking this urgent action.




Stephen Kennedy and Bruno Holthof have, it appears, led such a lack-lustre recruitment drive, that we are left with a critical shortage of doctors in post. Will you join us in contacting Dame Fiona Caldicott, chair of the trust board, to request the removal of these two men from their posts?

Only yesterday Bruno Holthof stated on National TV that there were no doctors to recruit, despite being told potential staff were being interviewed next week. How can we trust them when they publicily state their complete commitment to a full obstetric services, whilst knowing that later this year they are going to consult on plans to downgrade it, even if the current crisis is resolved?

Mr Kennedy may be a good gynaecologist, but to allow a situation like this as Head of Service to develop on his watch, is unacceptable.

We have been made aware that there are doctors sat with their bags packed waiting to come from overseas. Victoria Prentis will expedite their visas if necessary. In this desperate situation, to state that interviews couldn't take place because someone was on holiday is incredible.

This calls into question the motive for not making the post more attractive, when it appears easily remedied:- rotation to enable enhanced training experience, better pay and longer term contracts.

Dr Holthof's apparent desire to sell off part of the site for housing, given the growing population appears to show a flagrant disregard for people in this part of North Oxfordshire. We should be extending the hospital and in particular the maternity unit to take pressure off of the JR and to bring back the teaching accreditation.

If you can't think of anything to write simply copy and paste the above.

We need to let Dame Caldicott know we have serious reservations regarding the leadership shown by Kennedy and Holthof. If you do nothing else this weekend make a difference, spend five minutes sending the e-mail. Please also copy to your own MP, contact details here. If you're on facebook, tag this post when you've done it so we have an idea of how many have taken action.

Our lives could literally depend upon it.

Please email:




The Trust Directors meet at the JR at 3pm on Wednesday 31st August to decide the future of our maternity unit, with knock on effects for most departments at the Horton General Hospital

We're arranging a FREE COACH to take people to the meeting.

Arrangements are still being made, but the plan is that we will leave at 1.15pm sharp from in front of the Whately Hall hotel.

If you're on facebook, please comment on this thread to let us know how many people to expect.

If you haven't got a facebook account please email keepthehortongeneral@hotmail.co.uk with the word COACH in the subject line. We're currently receiving a very high volume of emails so we will do our best to pick up all the requests.




At a packed St Mary's Church last night (25 August), Banbury told Oxford University Hospital Trust bosses loud and clear that they will not tolerate the downgrading of maternity services at the Horton General Hospital.

After two last minute changes in format, Keep the Horton General campaigners were given a prominent position on stage and right of reply to the trust's answers. The audience cheered as KTHG chair Keith Strangwood interrupted Dr Bruno Holthof's opening speech to present him with a copy of nearly 15,000 petition signatures, collected over the last few weeks in protest at the imminent removal of consultant-led maternity, and the potential downgrading of many other departments at the Horton General Hospital.

After the opening speeches by the trust, independent chair Rev. Philip Cochrane asked many questions on behalf of people who had emailed himself and Victoria Prentis MP prior to the meeting. Members of KTHG, midwives and people from Banbury, including many parents and expectant mothers, also took to the microphone to ask questions and challenge the answers.

Trust managers, including the chief executive Dr Bruno Holthof, looked flustered and irritated as the audience erupted over their disputed claims regarding their efforts to recruit, the time taken to get to the JR, the availability of ambulances and their downplaying of risk to delivering mothers and babies. At one point, Dr Holthof embarrassed himself by not knowing the name of Catherine Greenwood, a clinician who was sharing the stage with him, and with whom he was supposedly working to resolve the problems at the Horton.

Incredulous at the trust's claims that the cuts are all about patient safety, supporters held up signs reading "Dead in an Ambulance" and "The JR is TOO FAR" whenever any of the Oxford University Hospitals Trust panel made this claim. The placards referred to the inevitable consequences for some women and babies if obstetric support is taken away, accessible only by a blue light ambulance journey of at least 45 minutes.

Rev. Philip Cochrane did an admirable job maintaining control in difficult circumstances as the audience grew increasingly angry with the trust's inadequate, evasive and misleading answers.

The trust's claims that "premium offers" had been made and turned down were challenged with evidence that salaries of just £38k and one-year contracts had been offered to prospective obstetricians. The trust was also challenged over their continuing failure, over several weeks, to interview up to 17 doctors with UK maternity experience, who are known to be waiting "with their bags packed" to come to work at the Horton General Hospital. Andrew McHugh, retired Horsefair GP Surgery Practice Manager, walked off stage and left the meeting in protest at the trust's insistence that sufficient efforts had been made to recruit the specialist doctors needed to keep the maternity unit fully open. He received a standing ovation as he stormed out of the building.

The Q&A event ended with the loudest applause of the evening when a brave Horton General Hosptial midwife took to the stage to read out a statement on behalf of her fellow midwives.

"I am currently a midwife at the unit and we all would like to thank KTHG for affording us these few moments to speak," she said. "Until now our presence and our voices have remained quiet... but tonight I now call upon my sisters here in this hall to stand up with me. Stand tall, stand proud, and stand united in our one voice, our one message.

"We are all at our very core only focused on one thing.... the safe provision of quality care to the women and families in our charge. We plead now personally to you, Dr Bruno Holthof, to reject your Trust's Contingency Plans, to insist your Obstetric Consultants across both hospitals pull together temporarily with agency doctors until the proposed Ugandan Doctors are in post.

We demand we are no longer silenced, that our contribution and place within OUHFT is acknowledged and respected and that despite the lack of trust in your Trust, Dr Holthof, you prove to us, your staff, that you are patient focused, women centred and recognise fully the important crucial role the whole of the Horton General Hospital plays in this growing community."

The midwives received a standing ovation from the audience, politicians and campaigners, with only the trust managers remaining seated.

Later, supporters took to social media to express their disgust at the trust's answers and their fears that, despite the trust's assurances that a decision has not yet been made, it is a "done deal". Videos, photos and public comments are available on our Save Our Horton facebook page.

Our thanks to Robert Shepley of Banburytown.com for allowing us to use his article as a starting point for this report.


We are pleased to announce that we will now have a presence on the stage and a right to reply.....

So can we please, urge you to come and listen to the debate....

There will be a five minute only presentation on the stage by the Trust as we are keen to take as many questions as is possible.

The Chairman will be ensuring there is not any time wasting.

This is our last chance before the Trust makes their final decision next Wednesday to convince the Trust this is unworkable and dangerous.

We look forward to seeing you - the meeting starts at 7pm.


There has been a last minute change of plan by the organisers of the event at St Mary's on Thursday.

KTHG are now denied a position on the platform, which will now consist of Trust and possibly Clinical Commissioning Group representatives.

We are given to understand that in addition to the original two proposed panellists, Paul Brennan, Andrew Stephens, Steven Kennedy, John Haggerty, David Smith, Catherine Stoddard and Bruno Holthof will be attending.

We are, as you will understand, concerned by the change of plans. We have received assurances that although not on the panel the right to reply or challenge, will by permission of the chair be given.

It appears obvious that our campaign has generated more support than the Trust anticipated.

Although consideration was given to boycott this meeting, we believe this would be counter productive. We are after all your voice and so we would encourage you to send in your questions and to attend the meeting, please.

Dr Holthof must see that Banbury rejects these proposals even on a temporary basis.



We need to keep the pressure on after Sunday's massive Hands Around the Horton protest!

The next event is a Q&A evening, organised by Victoria Prentis and Banbury Town Council. There will be two panellists in favour of the cuts and two against the cuts. The event will be chaired by Rev. Philip Cochrane of St Mary's.

Send your questions to victoria.prentis.mp@parliament.uk and independent chair Rev. Philip Cochrane rev.pcochrane@gmail.com

  • Date: Thursday 25th August
  • Time: 7pm
  • Location: St Mary's Church, Banbury
St Mary's Q&A poster

Here's Victoria's press release:

"Residents worried about the future of Banbury's Horton Hospital are invited to a question and answer session at St Mary's Church on Thursday 25 August.

Representatives of the Oxford University Hospitals Trust which wants to downgrade services at the hospital, and members of the Save the Horton campaign who are against the proposed cuts will answer questions from members of the public.

The event is being organised by Banbury Town Council and MP Victoria Prentis - and the session will begin at 7pm.

Mrs Prentis said: "All of us who rely on the Horton General Hospital really need to hear directly from the Trust why they are considering cutting services, and I hope that this question and answer event will get into the detail of the debate. It is so important that we have all the facts so we know what we are dealing with and what we have to do to save the Horton General Hospital's vital services." Mrs Prentis is asking members of the public to send questions to her in advance of the meeting. She said: "This will ensure a breadth of topics on the night and allow us to make the most of the time we have."

Questions should be sent via email to victoria.prentis.mp@parliament.uk

The meeting will be chaired by Rev Philip Cochrane of St Mary's and the panel will be announced nearer the event."



In what is being described as Banbury's largest protest ever, an astounding 5,000 people joined "Hands Around the Horton" today (21 August 2016) in a massive show of support for the Horton General Hospital against the Trust's unsafe and inhumane cuts to services, including maternity, A&E, the Special Care Baby Unit, stroke and rehabilitation services, Oak and F Wards, and the 24/7 Children's Ward.

We were denied the opportunity to enter Trust property, but this just spurred us on further, and the line of people stretched even further than when we fought off similar cuts in 2008; circling not just the Horton General Hospital but also a neighbouring residential area, the main Oxford Road and the inner relief road.

After the protest, supporters reconvened in Banbury's town centre for a massive photoshoot demonstrating the huge number of people fighting for THEIR hospital.

The organisers, Keep the Horton General with MP Victoria Prentis and local elected officials, would like to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who turned out in support of our hospital today - we're sure this won't have gone unnoticed by the Trust, or the Directors and Governors who meet on 31 August to decide the future of maternity at the Horton General Hospital.

Just to prove we went all the way around, here's some photos from our facebook page today! Thanks to everyone who posted, check out this page on facebook for all today's shots! Save Our Horton photo page

We've also got some amazing video footage from Jonathan Ruffle of Fresh-FX, Jake Mayo, and Sophie and Chris Hammond who drove around the perimeter while everyone was getting into position.

Hands Around the Horton - video by Johnathan Ruffle / Fresh FX

Hands Around the Horton - video by Jake Mayo (shared via Dropbox - just click "no thanks view anyway" if you don't want to sign up to Dropbox)

Hands Around the Horton - getting into position - Oxford Road entrance / Hightown Road / Valley Road disappearing into Green Lane (not visible due to it being a track) - Sophie & Chris Hammond

Hands Around the Horton - getting into position - Green Lane emerging from the left onto Upper Windsor St (Morrisons Hill) / back to Oxford Road entrance - Sophie & Chris Hammond

Hands Around the Horton protest 21 Aug 2016 Hands Around the Horton protest 21 Aug 2016 Hands Around the Horton protest 21 Aug 2016 Hands Around the Horton protest 21 Aug 2016 Hands Around the Horton protest 21 Aug 2016 Hands Around the Horton protest 21 Aug 2016 Hands Around the Horton protest 21 Aug 2016 Hands Around the Horton protest 21 Aug 2016 Hands Around the Horton protest 21 Aug 2016 Hands Around the Horton protest 21 Aug 2016 Hands Around the Horton protest 21 Aug 2016 Hands Around the Horton protest 21 Aug 2016 Hands Around the Horton protest 21 Aug 2016 Hands Around the Horton protest 21 Aug 2016 Hands Around the Horton protest 21 Aug 2016 Hands Around the Horton protest 21 Aug 2016 Hands Around the Horton protest 21 Aug 2016


SUNDAY 21ST AUGUST - 10.30am


Please meet near the main Oxford Road entrance to the Horton General Hospital for a 10.30am start.

Marshals wearing high-viz jackets will help you fan out safely around the hospital perimeter.


  • Please stay on the path
  • Please obey the marshals
  • Please do not go onto Trust property at any time
  • Do not obstruct ambulances or other vehicles entering or leaving the hospital under any circumstances!

Depending on numbers, the route will be:

  • Oxford Road, Hightown Road, past Morrisons, Upper Windsor Street
  • or

  • Oxford Road, Hightown Road, Green Lane to bridge, Upper Windsor Street

By 10.45am we should all be in position and JOIN "HANDS AROUND THE HORTON". Maybe we can get a Mexican Wave or two going?

There will be photographers there to record the event, so please bring banners and placards and wear campaign t-shirts if you have them! If you haven't got a t-shirt yet, you can get one from our market stall tomorrow, 9am - 4pm, Banbury market place, £6 each.

The protest will end at 11am.

Marshals will encourage protesters to leave safely, using the pavements.

Also on Sunday!

As we will be spread out around the hospital, it will be impossible to photograph everyone together during the protest.

All is not lost!

We have a stall on Sunday, by McDonalds, so that people can sign our petition and hand in any completed petitions they have brought with them. The Town Council says supporters can gather in the area around the bus shelter, near our stall, shortly before 12 noon. The road will then be closed briefly for a photo.

The photo shoot will be at the place where the Christmas Tree stands, near the Town Hall, at 12 noon.

We hope you can make it down there with your t-shirts and placards!

Thank you and see you all on Sunday!



Are you struggling to put pen to paper?

The most important thing you can do is write to the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, via your GP, and copy it to your MP. A personal letter is best by a long way, but for those of you who are struggling to get started, why not download our template letter?

Simply overtype the bits in red with your own information, and then change the text however you like. Remember - if you can add something that makes it personal, it will mean much more.

Click here to download the template letter in Word format

Here's a list of surgery addresses.

Here's a pdf of all the email addresses of our local MPs

PLEASE write - this is without a doubt the most important and helpful thing you can do



SUNDAY 21st AUGUST - 10.30am

This should be our biggest protest so far! Thousands of us, all joining hands in a circle of support and protection for the Horton General Hospital.

We need a really big turn out for this so please share as much as you can!

Why not download the poster and put it up in your window or work noticeboard?

Hands Around the Horton poster


98.7% oppose downgrading maternity to midwife-only unit

98.9% oppose downgrading A&E to minor injuries unit

97.9% oppose downgrading the 24/7 children's ward

Residents of Banburyshire are overwhelmingly against plans to remove consultant-led maternity and other acute services from the Horton, according to the interim results of our survey. We created our own survey after the OUHFT sent a complicated questionnaire to a limited number of trust members in an information-gathering exercise to inform its downgrading plans.

Our survey, which has had over 2,100 submissions so far, 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, access to specialist operations, or even forceps, ventouse (suction) or epidurals.

98.9% oppose replacing A&E with a GP-led minor injuries unit.

97.9 per cent oppose the loss of the 24-hour children's ward with paediatric specialists in attendance.

KTHG survey graphic

Respondents were able to use comment spaces to air their views and to express their priorities for the Horton. Free-text comments so far run to 178,000 words, or 273 pages, demonstrating how strongly people feel about the threats to their hospital.

Here's a sample of the comments.

"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 emergency-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."

"The downgrading of the Horton is unsafe. The population and their needs are growoing all the time. Access to Oxford hospitals 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 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?"

"We moved from Stratford to Banbury for the A&E. It should not change."

"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."

Notably, many of the already-angry respondents had significantly underestimated the time taken to get to the JR. Journey times of over an hour are common, and even the OUHFT admits (in their patient information letters) that patients should allow an hour to find a parking space. We know of one patient who missed their appointment after trying to find a parking space for 3 hours.

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?"

To complete our survey, visit https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/RMW92MV

Based on an article originally published in the Banbury Guardian, 9 August 2016. Read the original article here.


Story / pic - Oxford Mail, 12/8/16

A NEW mum has called on an NHS trust not to force pregnant women in north Oxfordshire to take long, risky journeys to get the healthcare they need, reports the Oxford Mail, 12/8/16.

New mum Sophie Hammond speaks out against Horton General Hospital cuts

Sophie Hammond tore a major blood vessel giving birth birth to daughter Clementine last September and was saved by teams at the Horton General Hospital. Now the 30-year-old from Bodicote has demanded Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust not to let the Horton's maternity unit become 'midwife-led'.

Current proposals put forward by the trust would see no specialists based at the hospital, meaning anyone living in the north of the county experiencing pregnancy complications would have to go to Oxford, South Northamptonshire or even Warwick.

Mrs Hammond said: "It is unthinkable nonsense to downgrade services which surely need augmenting instead. The aftermath of my daughter's birth was a very traumatic and difficult time for us, but it was made more bearable by being looked after by a brilliant team."

After her birth Mrs Hammond lost two litres of blood in about five minutes and was rushed into the operating theatre "within seconds" by doctors. She said: "A retired Horton nurse I used to know said colleagues referred to the ambulance journey from Banbury to the JR as 'the death run'. "How can we consider ourselves a civilised society if we are taking backwards steps in the safe delivery of babies?"

In late July the trust confirmed it had been trying unsuccessfully since April and May to fill five vacant obstetric posts, and could have just three out of eight middle-grade doctors in obstetrics by the end of September. Last year about 1,500 babies were born at the Horton. Its current contingency plan involves operating temporarily as a midwife-led unit, with 'high-risk' women from North Oxfordshire taken to the John Radcliffe to give birth.

But Mrs Hammond, a church buildings officer for the Diocese of Oxford, said: "Surely the most logical, low-impact solution would be to rotate staff between the JR and the Horton. The conclusion I have come to is that there is no reason the hospital couldn't be a fully-staffed, well-regarded training facility if the trust so wished it."

Earlier (in) the month hundreds of people, including new and expectant Oxfordshire mothers and Victoria Prentis MP, gathered in front of the Horton to protest the plans. Work has also begun at the John Radcliffe to prepare for the possibility of extra beds being needed at the Women's Centre.

Paul Brennan, director of clinical services at OUH, said the trust had been "working very hard" to attract new applicants and fill the roles. He said: "The posts have an enhanced pay level above the national recommendations, along with financial assistance for VISA application, and provide the opportunity for doctors to develop their skills by undertaking Advanced Training Specialist Modules and spend time at the unit in Oxford. We believe we have got a good offer for doctors wants a role that offers some responsibility and also variety, and we are continuing to advertise."

JR IS "FULL TO BURSTING" and cannot take on Banbury's births, say staff

Story - Banbury Guardian, 10/8/16

The prospect of moving Banbury area's consultant maternity work to Oxford is set to overwhelm that department, according to staff inside the John Radcliffe reports the Banbury Guardian, 10/8/16.

A member of staff at the John Radcliffe described the Oxford University Hospitals Trust's (OUHT) plan to end consultant cover for births at the Horton General Hospital as 'so manipulated it's scary'.

"I haven't come across anyone at the JR yet who understands why this is happening. Doctors and midwives seem to be baffled. There are only a handful of people behind this and they don't have a clue about the numbers involved, not only from the Banbury community point of view but from the capacity at the JR. It simply couldn't cope.

"The last two weeks have been particularly tough and we are constantly full to bursting, asking the Horton to help us out. How can this make any sense. It has been so manipulated it's scary."

The OUHT says unless it can recruit sufficient senior doctors to provide safe cover it will have to remove all consultant-led births to the JR women's centre in late September when three clinical research fellows leave. Any midwife-led births that encounter problems will have to be transferred, mid delivery, to Oxford. Midwives and campaigners have been searching for solutions that might help avoid downgrading of the unit, which would happen at the same time as consultation for proposed downgrading of other acute services - expected to be announced at the end of this month.

One Horton doctor has alerted suitably qualified obstetric colleagues in his home country of Uganda and it is understood six have sent their CVs to the head of Obstetrics at the trust for consideration.

Former Horton midwife, Sarah Ayre said: "Staff are overwhelmed by public support. They are doing all they can to keep the unit fully functioning as a consultant led unit. They demand women have easy, timely access to doctors. The JR always has been too far. Management know how many women they send to the Horton because they are fit to burst at the JR. The risks and dangers are huge and obvious."


84 year old Kath Davies has collected over 1000 petition signatures going door-to-door in her village. It's people like Kath that show that our hospital is not just needed, it is loved.

Thanks for your extaordinary effort, Kath!

Kath Davies, petition signature collector


We had a fantastic day on our market stall!

It was great to see so many of you, listen to your experiences and answer your questions about the threats to the Horton and what we can all do about it. We completely sold out of badges and t-shirts, and plenty of cake was consumed! We got hundreds of signatures and handed out hundreds more petitions which we hope you'll complete and return to us by Sunday 21st August - ideally by hand at "Hands Around the Horton"!

Thanks for taking the time to come and see us - it really helps to see the community so overwhelmingly behind us.

Market stall 6 August 2016
Market stall 6 August 2016
Market stall 6 August 2016
Market stall 6 August 2016
Market stall 6 August 2016
Market stall 6 August 2016


This flyer is a great summary of the threats and actions you can take. Click the images to download.

Threats and actions, front
Threats and actions, back

We'll be doing a single sided poster version shortly too.


Are you in town this Saturday, 6th August?

Why not pop down to Banbury Market and pay a visit to our market stall? Buy your campaign "T" shirt and badge, pick up a flyer, template letter and petition, and there might even be a cupcake left if you get there quickly enough!

On a serious note, this is a great opportunity to learn about the immediate threat to Consultant-led maternity, and to find out about the "emerging options" and how they affect the whole of the Horton General Hospital. It would be lovely to see you.

Our thanks to Sketts Market for allowing us to have the stall, and to Banbury Town Council for arranging it for us.


Distinct from the online petitions that have been set up by members of the public, this is a brand new petition from Keep the Horton General, targeted at some organisations you may not have heard of, but who are able to influence what the Trust is able to do.

It is being released as a paper petition because we need to reach people who are not on facebook or online, many of whom are not yet aware that there is a threat. Please help us gain awareness as well as signatures by sharing, printing, signing, and collecting signatures wherever you can.

Click here to download and print our petition.


This message was posted on our facebook page by a miwife formerly employed by the Trust. "The midwives and care assistance of Horton maternity would like to say a huge thank you for all that is being done to save the unit they are immensely proud of... We are a family through and through and are so overwhelmed by all that is being done to fight our corner. Special thanks to KTHG and Sarah Ayre.
We are bound by Trust policy and our NMC Code of Conduct so are unable to speak openly in the media .... But wanted everyone to know that we are there, sometimes quietly at the back, sometimes in spirit (all rolled up into Sarah)

"#handsoffourhorton鈥? You won't get it without a fight!!!!!!!!!!"


Thank you all for the great turn out this evening; we think there were between 400 and 500 people there which is brilliant for four days notice! It was lovely talking to so many of you and seeing so many Horton babies.
KTHG Chair Keith Strangwood, Banbury MP Victoria Prentis and campaigner Kate Spencer spoke to the crowds before we began the main event - recording the campaign song, with lyrics by Fiona Kempsell set to the tune of "History" by One Direction.

The children were fantastic singing; Keith Strangwood and former Horton midwife Sarah Ayre were such good sports singing solo; well done both of you. We can't wait to see the video, which is being produced by Barney Cremin and Jake Mayo and will be posted on YouTube as soon as it's complete.

Crowds of Horton babies sing for the Horton

Crowds of Horton babies sing for the Horton. Credit - Ian Gentles

New mums and babies join the crowds in support of the Horton

New mums and babies join the crowds in support of the Horton. Credit - Ian Gentles

Crowds in support of the Horton

Crowds in support of the Horton. Credit - Ian Gentles

Crowds in support of the Horton

Crowds in support of the Horton. Credit - Ian Gentles

Chair Keith Strangwood and former Horton midwife Sarah Ayre sing solo for the Horton

Chair Keith Strangwood and former Horton midwife Sarah Ayre sing solo for the Horton. Credit - Kate Spencer

Horton babies sing for the Horton

Crowds of Horton babies sing for the Horton. Credit - Kate Spencer

Chair Keith Strangwood speaking for the Horton

Chair Keith Strangwood speaking for the Horton. Credit - Peter Jones

MP Victoria Prentis spoke in favour of protecting services at the Horton

MP Victoria Prentis spoke in favour of protecting services at the Horton. Credit - Peter Jones

Crowds in support of the Horton

Crowds in support of the Horton. Credit - Ian Gentles

Crowds in support of the Horton

Crowds in support of the Horton. Credit - Ian Gentles

Crowds in support of the Horton

Crowds in support of the Horton. Credit - Kate Spencer

We released our own petition at this evening's event. Distinct from the online petitions that have already been set up by members of the public, this is a brand new petition from Keep the Horton General. It's targeted at some organisations you may not have heard of, but who are able to influence what the Trust is able to do.

It is being released as a paper petition because we need to reach people who are not on facebok or online, many of whom are not yet aware that there is a threat. Please help us gain awareness as well as signatures by sharing, printing, signing, and collecting signatures wherever you can.

Click here to download and print our petition.

Our petitions and flyers were kindly donated by Kall Kwik Banbury. Thanks for taking all our petitions away to be filled in.

We hope we'll see all of you, and even more, on Sunday 21st August for Hands Around the Horton!

Protest 30 July 2016


Saturday 30th July - 7.30 for 7.45 pm

If you missed Tuesday's protest against cuts at the Horton General Hospital - don't worry - we're doing it again on Saturday!

When - 7.30 for 7.45 pm, Saturday 30th July (to coincide with the midwives' shift change)
Where - Hightown Road (ie outside the Horton)

Meet the campaigners and Victoria Prentis and share your concerns, and join in with the (optional!) campaign song for You Tube. The press should be there, so let's make this huge!


The post you've been waiting for - it's time to protest

KTHG, Victoria Prentis MP, and local politicians from all parties are joining together to organise a public protest event - HANDS AROUND OUR HORTON.

Join us and hundreds, maybe thousands of others, as we join hands in a show of unity and support for the Horton!

Date: Sunday 21st August
Time: 10.30am

More details will be publicised when finalised.

Meanwhile KTHG are planning an additional event prior to the Hands round the Horton, as we believe we need to act NOW. Keep an eye on FB Save Our Horton and local press for details.

In the meantime, click here to find out what YOU can do right now.

Hands Around Our Horton graphic


Three doctors resign - consultant-led maternity could be gone by September

KTHG Chairman Keith Strangwood and retired Horton consultant Peter Fisher attended a meeting re the future of consultant led maternity at the Horton today (20 July 2016).

The outcome was extremely disturbing.

The Trust representatives informed the meeting that due to 'three clinical fellows resigning' the service would not be safe from the first week of September onwards. They are now drawing up a contingency plan. Allegedly a recruitment drive has been unsuccessful, although the Trust representative when questioned, could not remember where the posts had been advertised.

Interim measures include converting offices to maternity wards at the JR. Don't forget the major traffic chaos that will kick in shortly whilst the Trust links the heating systems of the JR and Churchill hospitals.

MP Victoria Prentis's representative, who attended the meeting, has said that she hopes the 'changes are being considered as a contingency/absolute last resort, pending the outcome of their recruitment drive in the coming weeks'.

Let's hope she is right....

So what can/should you do right now?

We are certain Banbury will want to stand up against this, and are drawing up plans right now, which will be revealed as soon as we have a time and a place for you.

In the meantime, click here to find out what YOU can do right now.


OUHFT annouce closure of Oak Ward and downsizing of F Ward

We heard late yesterday, from several sources within the Horton General Hospital, that the OUHFT has announced the closure of Oak Ward, and the downsizing of F Ward. They intend that this will happen by 3 October.

36 beds will be lost and 60 staff will be "re-deployed" as a result. We understand staff were told yesterday.

Oak Ward houses acute general medicine patients while F Ward takes trauma and orthopaedic patients.

Staff and campaigners were left stunned by the announcement, which (contrary to the "rules of engagement" in place since our 2008 victory over the OUHFT's downgrading plans) had neither been discussed at the Community Partnership Forum, or opened up to any form of consultation.

We must stress that this news is not yet confirmed, and we will bring you more as soon as we have more information.



The Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUHFT) is consulting on the way services are provided at the Horton General Hospital in Banbury. They have circulated a questionnaire to selected people in Banburyshire.

Their plans could take away A&E, consultant-led maternity, Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU), 24 hour / 7 day a week children's ward and intensive care.

Keep the Horton General would like to give everyone the chance to have their say.

Please take a few minutes to fill in our survey so the voice of Banburyshire patients is heard loud and clear.

There are three sections to our survey -

  • Section One is about you: age, gender, postcode and employment status.
  • Section Two is the 'Keep The Horton General' survey.
  • Section Three is a 'Plain English' version of the OUHFT questionnaire. We didn't design this bit but we do need you to complete it as best you can. If you find it impossible to rate any of the options, you may like to leave an appropriate comment in the box on the question.

Please answer all three sections. It may help to read all of the questions first.

Click here for the KTHG survey

When you've done it, pass it on!

Please let your friends and colleagues know about our survey. Simply copy and paste the following into your email, facebook post, tweet or text: http://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/K3VFYT2

Thanks for sharing!


Think you wouldn't be impacted by the options proposed for the Horton General Hospital's maternity unit, SCBU or paediatrics? This letter, sent by Mr & Mrs James to the Banbury Guardian on 30 June, summarises some of the conditions under which a mother wishing to give birth at the Horton would not be permitted to do so. According to their letter, the conditions under which a mother would be forced to go to the JR include, but are not limited to:

  • wanting an epidural
  • wanting or needing a Caesarian
  • twin pregnancy
  • raised blood pressure
  • pre-term
  • forceps required mid-labour
  • ventouse (aka vacuum-assisted / suction) required mid-labour
  • paediatric support required mid-labour
  • antibiotics required mid-labour
  • large blood loss experienced mid-labour

In addition, any second-time-mother who had experienced ANY of the above during her first labour would automatically be classed as high risk, and would be expected to make her own way to the JR.

This list is consistent with the preclusions we were told about during the last campaign in 2006 - but do we have any midwives (present or past) who could confirm this would still be the case?

The full text of Mr & Mrs James' letter (our emphasis), reproduced with the permission of the Banbury Guardian, is below.

Letter on the types of births impacted by the propsed service reduction by Mr & Mrs James, 30 June 2016

"Speak out over Horton cuts"

I am writing to the Banbury Guardian about the proposed plans at the Horton General Hospital, specifically, the maternity unit.

I want to inform the people of Banbury and the surrounding areas of the difference between an obstetric unit (current services) and a midwife led unit (proposed plan). A midwife led unit will only cater for those with low risk pregnancies and labour. And that's it. Anything that falls short of uncomplicated, low risk means the women of Banbury will be expected to travel to the John Radcliffe in Oxford. The list of services which will be withdrawn include but are in no way limited to the following: there will be NO epidural service, NO Caesarian sections (emergency or pre-booked), NO women who have previously had a Caesarian section or large blood loss, NO twin pregnancies, NO raised blood pressure, NO birth requiring paediatric support, NO pre term births, NO access to ventouse or forceps births if required, NO doctors on hand to provide emergency support, NO antibiotics in labour and NO operating theatres. Also, if there have been complications in a previous pregnancy or birth, this will also impact on whether the new current pregnancy is deemed low risk. For example, a previous normal birth may have been complicated by a large blood loss, and this will deem the next pregnancy as high risk (of it reoccurring).

The maternity unit at the Horton currently works closely with the paediatricians and special care baby unit (SCBU) to offer a service to the women, families and newborns of the Banbury area. The plans are to close SCBU and withdraw the paediatric service. Babies born needing immediate support and a stay on the SCBU, those requiring antibiotics, or phototherapy for jaundice will NOT be catered for at the Horton. Babies and families will be expected to travel to the John Radcliffe.

And did you know there are plans to close your A&E department? Fancy travelling to Oxford with your sick child? Or elderly relative?

Speak out. Don't let your hospital be dismantled in this way. You deserve a fully operational general hospital. Banbury is expanding. The population is increasing and will continue to increase.

Will the John Radcliffe cope? Is it coping now?

Mr and Mrs James, Boulton (via email)


Remember we told you that the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) are the group who decide which services are provided in Oxfordshire?

Well the OCCG is inviting YOU to have your say on how health care is delivered in Oxfordshire at a drop-in event in Banbury Town Hall on Tuesday 12 July, 6pm - 9pm.

They want your views on how local GP, community and hospital services should develop so that "services are of high quality, closer to home, more convenient with better access and can overcome a £200m funding gap by 2020/21."

The events are informal "drop-ins" with NHS clinicians and staff on hand to take questions and feedback.

They will focus on:

  • the financial health challenges within Oxfordshire
  • how we can improve the overall health of people in Oxfordshire
  • how we can prevent people from getting ill
  • how we can improve quality
  • make best use of tax payers money
  • how you can get more actively involved including hearing about our plans for public consultation later in the year around models of care across Oxfordshire

The Big Conversation Roadshows are being held on:

Tuesday 12 July, 6pm - 9pm, at Banbury Town Hall
Monday 18 July, 6pm - 9pm, at The Beacon in Wantage
Thursday 21 July, 6pm - 9pm, at Oxford Town Hall
Tuesday 26 July, 2pm - 5pm, at St Mary's Church, Wallingford
Thursday 28 July, 2pm - 5pm, at the Littlebury Hotel, Bicester
Thursday 4 August, 11am - 2pm, Methodist Church, Witney

If you would like more information about these events, please contact Julia Stackhouse (OCCG) on 01865 334638

Click here for the OCCG press release


Do you run a village magazine or school newsletter?

Can you help us get our message out?

KTHG have issued two press releases - long and short versions of the same message - describing the threats to services at the Horton General Hospital and telling people what they can do to help.

You can download them here:

Long version (598 words)
Short version (218 words)

Please help us to reach those people in our community who don't read the local papers or use facebook!


A&E, medicine, orthopaedics, CCU at risk as well as SCBU, maternity and Children's Ward

At today's public session of the Community Partnership Network (CPN), the OUHFT presented their "emerging options" for the Horton General Hospital. The OUHFT said all options will need to be assessed for activity, workforce, finance and estates and there will be a full consultation in October 2016.

Option 1

Option 1 is what we currently have at the Horton General Hospital. It was initially presented to the CPN, and to the midwives on 3 June, as the "status quo" but more recently (perhaps as a result of unwanted publicity?) it has been honoured as an Option. Option 1, the status quo, is what the experts in the form of the IRP decreed we must have, at the end of the last campaign in 2007/8.

Andrew Stevens, OUHFT Director of Planning & Information, said "Option 1 is the status quo but if we thought that was adequate..... we would not be doing this exercise".

So let's look at Options 2 and 3, which the OUHFT believe to be the only real options.

Option 2

Under Option 2, Banbury's Horton General Hospital would:
Lose A&E - downgraded to GP urgent care and Minor Injuries Unit
Lose Acute Stroke and Rehab - downgraded to Rehab and Early Supported Discharge
Surgery (elective day cases) - would be limited to 8am to 3pm
Lose Surgery - elective inpatients
Lose elective orthopaedic inpatients
Medicine - elective day cases - would be limited to 8am - 3pm
Lose Medicine - elective inpatients
Medicine - non-elective inpatients - inpatient ward would be downgraded to frail assessment unit
Lose Critical adult care (Critical Care Unit)
Lose consultant-led Maternity - downgraded to Midwife Led Unit (ie no consultants or anaesthetists allocated to maternity)
Lose Special Care Baby Unit
Paediatric inpatients downgraded to paediatric observation and assessment unit (8-10)
(We think this means open 8am to 10pm, ie no overnight patients)

Option 3

Under Option 3, Banbury's Horton General Hospital would see:
A&E retained as "integrated urgent care centre with ED function + out of hours + minor injury unit + walk in centre"
Lose Acute Stroke and Rehab - downgraded to Rehab and Early Supported Discharge
Adult Critical Care - retained but in the form of a High Dependency Unit on-site + "e-ICU"
Lose consultant-led Maternity - downgraded to Midwife Led Unit (ie no consultants or anaesthetists allocated to maternity)
Lose Special Care Baby Unit
Paediatric inpatients downgraded to "paediatric observation and assessment unit, assessment and clinical decision unit (24/7)"

Keep the Horton General campaigners, midwives, SCBU staff and members of the public mounted a spirited and angry attack on the safety aspects of the options presented, the failure to communicate properly with staff, and the OUHFT's failure to ensure that the so-called midwife staff representatives were indeed representative of the staff, their opinions and commitment to the Horton General Hospital.

We were delighted to hear from Andrew McHugh (former practice manager, Horsefair Surgery) that, although he had supported previous OUHFT proposals, he was very concerned about the Midwife Led Unit (MLU) proposal. He had undertaken a survey of GPs in the area and they were "overwhelmingly against the MLU on the grounds of safety".

Andrew Stevens (OUHFT) stressed that they are still "evaluating and refining options" and that there will be a full public consultation beginning October 2016. He repeatedly attributed the options to various Clinical Groups, and said the OUHFT would consider other options if put forward by the CPN. As KTHG is aware of other smaller hospitals running Consultant Led Units with middle-grade staff (something the OUHFT Post Graduate Dean maintains is not possible, thereby creating the very problem that the OUHFT seek to "solve"), this offers some hope .

A special CPN maternity workshop will be set up, including actual working midwives, and attempts were made to secure similar promises for A&E, paediatrics and inpatient orthopaedics.

KTHG chairman Keith Strangwood proposed a motion to remove the worst option, Option 2, from consideration, it being totally contrary to the statement in the same paper that "almost all the patients currently being cared for at the Horton will continue to be cared for locally". A vote was taken after KTHG forced the issue, but unfortunately the motion did not pass, with 3 votes for striking out the option, and 9 for keeping the worst option in the process.

The documents presented in the meeting are publicly available from Cherwell District Council's website (Permanent link here.) The slide illustrated below, presented to the meeting, is on page 11 of the downloadable pdf.

Options for the Horton General Hospital presented by the OUHFT to the CPN 14 June 2016


Do you want to show the OUHFT how much the Horton General Hospital means to you?
Do you want to hear them discuss their plans for the Horton General Hospital?
Maybe ask them a question yourself?

Members of the public are invited to attend the next meeting of the Community Partnership Network (CPN) on Tuesday 14 June. As with all CPN meetings, it is open to the public and those attending should have the opportunity to comment or question. The proposed options for the Horton General Hospital should be discussed as part of the agenda.

What is it?
The CPN is a forum where representatives of all the groups with an interest in the Horton General Hospital can talk through proposals with the OUHFT. The Keep the Horton General campaign group has two members.

Where is the meeting?
Cherwell District Council's offices in Bodicote.

What time?
9.30am Tuesday 14th June.

Are you sure I'm invited?


We received some great support from the local media this week after we broke the news about the OUHFT's potential cuts to services at Banbury's Horton General Hospital.

The Banbury Guardian led with this article on 9 June 2016: Join the fight to ensure survival the Horton's maternity and children's services, says campaign group (Permanent link here)

KTHG chair talks to Banbury Guardian outside Horton General Hospital maternity unit
The Banbury Cake ran with this article: Change to Banbury hospital maternity services could cost lives, MP and campaigners warn (Permanent link here)

Finally, here's our Chair, Keith Strangwood, being interviewed by BBC Radio Oxford on 8 June.

KTHG chair talks to BBC news outside Horton General Hospital maternity unit


Keep the Horton General are delighted that Banbury MP, Victoria Prentis, has come out publicly in favour of retaining Consultant Led Maternity and the 24/7 Childrens Ward at Banbury's Horton General Hospital.

Writing on her website on 8 June, Ms Prentis wrote, "While no decisions have been made yet, I want to make it clear from the outset that I feel very strongly that we must keep high level maternity care at the Horton. The most important factor is the safety of mothers and babies."

Banbury MP Victoria Prentis and Sir Tony Baldry outside Horton General Hospital maternity unit

KTHG is in frequent contact with both Ms Prentis and former Banbury MP, Sir Tony Baldry, and are grateful for the support and advice of both.

Ms Prentis posted this update on her website (scroll down to 8 June)


As you will be aware the NHS has suffered swingeing cuts to its budget in real terms over recent years.

The Oxford University Hospital Foundation Trust is not immune to these budgetary restraints.

However their current proposals for the Horton General Hopital are going over exactly the same ground that was covered, and secured, only eight years ago. Here's a link to the report by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel that secured our services in 2008.

Absolutely nothing has changed in the intervening time except that there are now MORE vehicles on the routes to Oxford from Banbury, ongoing roadworks in and around North Oxford and a housing explosion that will provide homes for MANY MORE potential Horton users.

Members of KTHG attended a meeting organised by Victoria Prentis in November 2015 when David Smith, Chief Executive, Oxfordshire Clinical Commission Group (OCCG) said that there is resentment amongst the GPs in South Oxfordshire about the cost of funding the services that are now under threat. The OCCG now controls the budget which funds all medical services in the county including hospitals.

Our viewpoint is that when the cuts were referred to the Secretary of State for Health (Alan Johnson) in 2007/8, a large group of esteemed professionals from various walks of life painstakingly evaluated all of the evidence. Their judgement was crystal clear. "The IRP does not consider that (the proposals) would provide an acceptable or improved service for the people of North Oxfordshire and the surrounding area".

Whether the GPs in the south resent the amount spent in the north of the county, or not, does not alter the adjudication of 2008.

KTHG member, Charlotte Bird, met the former Secretary of State for Health two years ago. She told him he was a hero locally for the decision he took in 2008. He replied, "I didn't make the decision; I left it in the hands of the experts".

The OUHT want everything to be Oxford-centric which is simply not viable. There is a cast iron case for retaining full services at the Horton. Simply put, lives will be lost if women in labour have to be transferred from Banbury to Oxford for emergency caesareans. Young lives will be lost if seriously ill children have to be transferred to Oxford because we don't have a 24/7 paediatric service. And we all know how quickly children can go downhill when they are poorly.

So the question at stake is - money or lives?

Please let your GP (who is a member of OCCG) know how strongly you feel.

Wherever you live, copy your email/letter to Victoria Prentis, MP for Banbury: her email address is victoria.prentis.mp@parliament.uk

If you are based in a neighbouring constituency, please email it to your own MP - email addresses below.

And don't forget to copy KTHG so we can log the number of messages sent. Our email address is keepthehortongeneral@hotmail.co.uk


Email addresses for reference:

Victoria Prentis: victoria.prentis.mp@parliament.uk
Andrea Leadsom - andrea.leadsom.mp@parliament.uk
Nadhim Zahawi - nadhim.zahawi.mp@parliament.uk
Jeremy Wright - jeremy@jeremywright.org.uk
David Cameron - office@witneyconservatives.com
John Bercow - john.bercow.mp@parliament.uk
Keep The Horton General - keepthehortongeneral@hotmail.co.uk


We've been delighted and encouraged by the many messages of support for the Horton General Hospital that have been left on our facebook page.

But did you know you can leave a review about your experience at the Horton General Hospital on the NHS Choices website?

According to NHS Choices, a whopping 100% of respondents said they would recommend the Horton's labour ward/birthing unit, and an impressive 92% of respondents said they would recommend the Horton's postnatal ward.

NHS Choices ratings for the Horton General Hospital maternity unit

Despite the overwhelming approval rating, only 8 of 14 people who wrote a review gave the consultant-led maternity unit a good report. The others - mainly anonymous - are less complimentary.

Might this bias put other women off using the Horton's consultant-led unit?

If you had a great experience at the Horton General Hospital's maternity unit, why not enter your review on the NHS Choices website so expectant mothers get a better idea of how people really feel about the service they get from the Horton. You can enter your review here.

When you've done it, why not use that as the basis of your letter to the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group care of your GP? (Remember - we really need you to write that letter!)


Consultant-led Maternity, SCBU, and 24/7 Children's Ward under threat once more

We understand that a meeting was held at the Horton General Hospital on the morning of Friday 3rd June to inform staff about the Trust's future plans for Banbury's consultant-led maternity unit.

The Trust claims the existing situation is unviable, and is proposing alternative solutions that would reduce the service to a midwife-led unit (i.e. no consultant support available on-site), with loss of special care baby unit and in all probability loss of the 24/7 Children's Ward.

It's only eight years since the Independent Reconfiguration Panel decreed that 28 miles / 1.5 hours in traffic was too far to travel, and that all these services must stay in Banbury in order to provide 150,000 people (and growing) with a safe, fair and accessible service.

KTHG is working hard on our response. We'll let you know via this website, our facebook group and via our email service if you have signed up to receive updates, but in the meantime, here's what you can do.

1) MOST IMPORTANT - write to the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group via your GP.

The GPs are in charge of commissioning services now, so they need to know what's important to us. Tell them how much we need the full services of a General Hospital in Banbury, and explain why. The cost and travel difficulties are key arguments; bad for all of us, but hitting lower income and disadvantaged families particularly hard. If you can illustrate your email or letter with a personal experience, that will make it more powerful. We need THOUSANDS of you to write so PLEASE do this.

2) Copy your GP email / letter to your MP.

The more that write, the more impact it will have.

3) If you have a facebook account, join our facebook group

Join the conversation and invite your friends to get involved too. Like and share messages you find interesting to help raise awareness. The more likes and shares we get, the more people see our posts.

4) Keep an eye out for any meetings or events that are being arranged.

Come and show your support. When we call on you, we'll need well-attended events to demonstrate that the people of Banbury and the surrounding area care about services at the Horton General Hospital.

5) If you are a member of staff, contact us in confidence if you have concerns.

We promise we will NOT reveal your identity but you must of course have regard to any contract you have signed.

6) If you are a patient or service user, we want to hear about your experience.

How would your experience have differed if you had been forced to use the JR instead of the Horton General Hospital? How would the cuts affect you and your family?

7) Can you spare the time to help with the campaign?

We're all ordinary people with jobs, families and health concerns, just like you. But we're stretched thin and we need more people to help us.

You can contact us at keepthehortongeneral@hotmail.co.uk, by phone on 07740 599736 (leave a message if not answered immediately) or by messaging Katherine Wells (formerly known as Horton Campaigner) on facebook.


The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) is holding an invitation-only event at the Kassam Stadium in Oxford on Monday 6 June to seek the attendees' views on its five year Transformation Programme.

This plan is looking at new ways of delivering health and social care to improve the overall health of Oxfordshire's population, prevent people from getting ill, improve quality and make best use of health budgets. At the meeting, OCCG will reveal its initial ideas and ask for feedback from invited stakeholders representing health, social care, voluntary and community sectors. During the day stakeholders will consider the following areas as part of the plan: maternity and paediatrics, urgent and emergency care, elective, diagnostic and specialist care, mental health and learning disabilities.

We understand the OCCG would like three or four actual service users, "real people", to attend and share their perspective. If you are interested, please contact them using the links below.

For more information about Transformation go to the OCCG's Transformation page or email queries to CSCSU.talkinghealth@nhs.net


Keep the Horton General has been monitoring the impact of the ongoing road works to Oxford roundabouts, north of the city.

"We are aware that since recent changes were made to the traffic flow at the Cutteslowe roundabout, there has been a torrent of comment on Twitter about the delays. We have huge sympathy with the commuters who have to use this route on a daily basis. However we are particularly concerned about the potential for the death of a patient, conveyed by ambulance to the John Radcliffe hospital, being delayed en route," said Keith Strangwood, Chairman of KTHG.

This message from a driver was tweeted on Tuesday 19 April:- "As I drove to Kidlington this morning and stared in amazement at all the jams and traffic chaos I saw an ambulance absolutely stranded and desperately trying to get through it all. There was nowhere for anyone to move to, to give access. I really hope the person in need of that ambulance is ok, they were definitely going nowhere fast. It is an absolute disgrace."

Mr Strangwood issues an invitation to broadcasters. "I welcome the opportunity to speak live on-air to Mr Nimmo-Smith, responsible for roads within the Oxford City Council area, who previously told me on the Radio Oxford drivetime programme that ambulances were being given priority."

"As though this isn't bad enough, patients are now being sent JR appointment letters with the advice that they should 'allow at least an hour to find a parking space'. If ever there was a time that the Oxford University Hospitals Trust woke up to the fact that patients from the north of the county should be treated at the Horton General Hospital, this is it," he said.

The press release can be downloaded here: Oxford traffic chaos hinders ambulances (press release dated 25 April 2016)




Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, the organisation that decides which health services will be provided and who will provide them, has issued a stark warning that it will either have to pay less or provide less services in the next 12 months.

Central government cuts are forcing the OCCG to cut its spending by £22.4million, but it has only identified £9.1million of savings so far, leaving a £13m black hole.

The OCCG board is responsible for agreeing how to fund healthcare across the county including hospital care, community hospitals, end of life care, mental health services and ambulances. They pay for the county's NHS 111 non-emergency helpline, autism diagnosis centres, and physiotherapy services and have secured an agreement with NHS England to take on responsibility for primary care - such as GPs - with a £90m budget. OCCG contracts out services to organisations such as Oxford University Hospitals.

Direct cuts to services have not been ruled in or out, but the board pointed out there is a growing pressure for its services.

There are two meetings coming up at which the financial situation will be discussed. The first meeting is a single issue extraordinary OCCG Board meeting to discuss the budget.
Date: Thursday 21st April, 3.15pm to 4.30pm
Location: Jubilee House, Oxford Business Park, Oxford OX4 2LH

The second meeting is a normal OCCG Board Meeting at which the £13m hole in the budget is likely to be one of several items on the agenda.
Date: Thursday 26th May, from 9:00am to 12:45pm
Location: Banbury Town Hall

The OCCG Board meetings are held every other month and move around the county to facilitate contact with and participation by local people. The format of all OCCG board meetings, taken from their website, is as follows:

"At each meeting there is the opportunity for members of the public to ask questions related to the agenda items. Questions may be asked at the meeting during a 15 minute agenda slot.
OCCG will try to record questions posed as accurately as possible; however meetings and public questions are not recorded verbatim. As such (the OCCG) ask that the public also submit their question in writing in any of the following ways before the meeting:
- via email: oxon.gpc@nhs.net
- via letter to the OCCG Business Manager at Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Jubilee House, Jubilee House, 5510 John Smith Drive, Oxford Business Park South, Cowley, Oxford, OX4 2LH
- hand a hard copy of your question to the OCCG Business Manager at the Board meeting.

Questions and responses will be posted on the OCCG website within 20 working days."

We can't stress enough how important it is for the public and local councillors to attend these meetings, or submit questions, if they can. This may be our last chance to influence decisions on which services are provided locally.


It is with great sadness that we post our latest update. Our campaigning colleague and great friend, Don Wilkes, lost his battle with heart disease on March 26th.

Don fought with us for more than ten years and was a constant advocate for action. He was a valuable member of the KTHG family and we will miss him very much.

I am sure you will join with us in sending our sincere condolences to his widow, Joyce.

Don Wilkes, KTHG campaigner 2005 - 2016

Don Wilkes, KTHG campaigner.


When? 7.15pm
Where? Banbury Town Hall

After decades of apparent neglect, it is extremely encouraging to hear that at last the Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust (OUHFT) is planning a major investment in buildings at the Horton.

It's great that fewer patients will need to travel to Oxford for their outpatient appointments - but we need to know that the price won't be the the downgrading of Critical Care and, despite the Trust's recently stated commitment to both services, the loss of consultant led Maternity and Paediatrics.

Members of the public will have the opportunity to question OUHFT Director of Planning and Information Andrew Stevens, who will be presenting the strategy at the Open Meeting of the North Oxfordshire Locality Group Patient Forum on Tuesday 22nd March at 7.15 pm at Banbury Town Hall.

All invited!


The Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust (OUHFT) have unveiled plans for a multi-million pound rebuild of the Horton General Hospital in the biggest infrastructure investment in Banbury for decades.

In the most ambitious proposal on the table, the hospital could be replaced by a £150 million, newly-built hospital at the centre of a huge health hub.

At the very least, the OUHFT say there will have to be a £55 million rebuild of the site's departments to make them fit for purpose, stating that "doing nothing is not an option".

The proposals revealed by Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust (OUHFT) at Tuesday's CPN are in their infancy and no single blueprint has been decided upon.

"There are specific issues about the Horton estate. It's impossible to develop it cost effectively," said Andrew Stevens, director of planning. "If we're spending £750,000 on a new CT scanner, for example, it's going to cost £3-£4 million more because the building is in such a poor condition."

Mr Stevens said a group of Oxfordshire's major healthcare planners had discussed possibilities for the Horton site at a special workshop last month. He said the OUHFTs new foundation trust status allows it to seek "innovative" forms of funding to pay for the building such as bank loans or partnerships. Land sale was also mentioned when the project was unveiled at the Community Partnership Network meeting in Banbury. Mr Stevens said there would be no funds from the shrinking NHS allowances.

Planning will involve looking at what frontline services would be in the new hospital. A current review of critical care has been put on hold until those services have been decided.

When asked if all existing acute services will remain, Mr Stevens said plans are for redevelopment of the Horton 'as it is'. However Paul Brennan, director of clinical services, warned of 'serious issues' around obstetrics, paediatrics and acute stroke care.

Mr Brennan said the timescale for the project was five to ten years.

Mr Stevens said predictions show daycase surgery and outpatient appointments at the Horton could be almost doubled, saving patients from the cost and inconvenience of travel, and relieving pressure on the Oxford hospitals. Taking input from Banburyshire stakeholders - members of the Community Partnership Network - the group will now try to develop plans into workable proposals by June.

The whole project will be discussed alongside Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group's new 'transformation plans' for health and social care provision for Oxfordshire's growing, ageing population.

Speaking to the Banbury Guardian, retired Horton consultant and KTHG campaigner Dr Peter Fisher said: "Plans appear positive, with emphasis on replacing buildings no longer fit for purpose, reducing the number of Banbury area patients needing to travel to Oxford and encouraging those from other areas, particularly Bicester, to look to Banbury rather than Oxford.

"However, at other points in the meeting there was discussion of staffing problems in paediatrics and obstetrics, in part due to national shortages. It will be important to remain vigilant and ensure ways are found to ensure that OUHFT maintains its stated commitment to continue fully both those services at the Horton."

Source: Banbury Guardian.


As services are temporarily, and in some cases permanently, removed from the Horton General Hospital, more and more patients are obliged to travel to Oxford for appointments and treatment.

KTHG has therefore decided to compile a log of journey times to and from the Oxford hospitals. If you travel from the Horton catchment area to one of the Oxford hospitals, we would be very grateful if you would email us with the following information:

  • Date
  • Starting point (postcode is sufficient)
  • Destination
  • Start time
  • Arrival time
  • Mileage
  • How you travelled (car / bus / train etc)
  • How long it took you to find a parking space

This exercise will enable us to compile a log of the difficulties patients, carers and visitors are experiencing.

Please email your information to our dedicated "travel times" email address: travel.log@yahoo.com

To protect your online security, please do not leave responses on our facebook page. Thank you for any information you are able to provide.


Friday's announcement by Dr David Richards, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), that "up to 20% of England's 147 consultant-led units need to close due to a shortage of doctors" is potentially of concern to the Horton General Hospital (HGH).

Acknowledging that his controversial proposal would create "a public and political furore", Dr Richards said there should be a "big expansion in the number of midwife-led units".

Following an exhaustive enquiry 2006-8, the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) issued six rulings to ensure that full services were maintained at the HGH. Point 2 stipulated that 'The IRP does not support the Oxford Radcliffe Hospital's proposals to reconfigure services in paediatrics, obstetrics, gynaecology and the special care baby unit (SCBU) at Horton Hospital. The IRP does not consider that they will provide an accessible or improved service to the people of north Oxfordshire and surrounding areas'.

A recent statement by Andrew Stevens, Director of Planning and Information for the Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust (OUHFT), confirmed 'that the recent permanent appointment of two obstetrician consultants demonstrated an OUHFT commitment to continue the obstetrics service and the same commitment applies to the paediatrics service'.

Keep the Horton General Chairman, Keith Strangwood, welcomed the statement, remarking, "In principle absolutely nothing has changed since the IRP report. However the population is rapidly expanding, house building is booming and there is more traffic to clog up the route from Banbury to the Oxford hospitals. It is vital that our services are maintained for the people of Banburyshire to access with relative ease. Apart from anything else there is a widely acknowledged, acute, shortage of midwives. How does Dr Richards intend to staff these midwife led units?"


Over four months ago, upon news that major road works were to be undertaken on the Banbury side of Oxford with both the Wolvercote and Cutteslowe roundabouts affected, KTHG commented "... this news does not bode well for the paramedics and ambulance drivers who will undoubtedly be put under additional stress due to the traffic congestion."

Since then South Central Ambulance Services have been in the news on numerous occasions. Last month the Oxford Mail revealed CAS was struggling to fill 300 paramedic vacancies as well as 150 other frontline staff and had resorted to recruiting in Poland and Australia as well as the UK. In recent days it was announced that SCAS could face a £1m fine over its poor performance.

KTHG has every sympathy with these men and women on the front line. Since many inpatient services have been removed from the Horton General Hospital, Banburyshire patients rely heavily on SCAS to transport them to the Oxford hospitals.

The most recent withdrawal of inpatient beds is on E ward, which previously provided overnight accommodation for women who had undergone mastectomies, gynaecological procedures etc. The 'official line' from the OUHFT is that this is a temporary measure to counter the demands of bed blockers and winter emergencies.


Regarding the rumours that E-ward is to close; it now appears that the change of use of E Ward to daytime only is part of the recently published plan for dealing with Delayed Transfers of Care (patients medically fit to leave hospital but unable to do so for lack of social care arrangements.)

KTHG has concerns about some aspects of this plan, in particular the future care of patients currently looked after overnight in E Ward and will be pursuing these concerns at the meeting of the Community Partnership Network on 8th December (Bodicote House 09.30am, open to the public)


Following a recent meeting at the Horton hospital, organised and chaired by local MP Victoria Prentis, and attended by:

Victoria Prentis, MP for Banbury
Keith Strangwood, Chair Keep the Horton General
Peter Fisher, retired Consultant, Keep the Horton General
Charlotte Bird, Press ∧ Publicity, Keep the Horton General
Bruno Holthof, Chief Executive Oxford University Foundation Trust
Stuart Bell, Chief Executive Oxford Health
David Smith Chief Executive Oxford Clinical Commissioning Group
Will Hancock, Chief Executive South Central Ambulance Services
Andrew Stevens, Director of Planning and Information OUFT
Susan Brown, Senior Communications Manager OUFT
Anita Higham, OBE, Governor OUHT
Stephanie Garnett, Senior Parliamentary Asst to Victoria Prentis

Keith Strangwood expressed his optimism at the pledge made by new Chief Executive Bruno Holthof of his 'commitment to openly discuss options and consult.'

"The assembled group, who all have a vested interest in services at the Horton General Hospital, agreed to be forward looking and not dwell in the past" said Mr Strangwood. "Nevertheless the assurance by the new Chief Executive that any proposed alterations to services will be subject to consultation is a marked improvement on what has previously occurred. KTHG will be attending further meetings with this group and make a commitment to the people of Banburyshire that they will be keeping a keen eye on any developments, which will be communicated in full to the public through its website and Facebook page".


You may be aware of the report in today's (12/11/15) Banbury Guardian about a rumoured threat to obstetric services at the Horton General Hospital when a senior consultant retires next year.

KTHG were aware of the possible threat and indeed it was the opening and main subject of our meeting, at the Horton General Hospital, on Friday last week.

The attendees were:
Victoria Prentis MP, Chair
Bruno Holthof, CE OUFT
Stuart Bell, CE Oxford Health
David Smith, CE OCCG
Will Hancock, CE SCAS
Andrew Stevens Director of Planning and Information OUFT
Susan Brown Senior Communications Manager OUFT
Anita Higham Chair Oxfordshire North Locality Forum for Patient and Public Engagement in Health and Social Care
Stephanie Garnett (assistant to VP)
Keith Strangwood (KTHG)
Peter Fisher (KTHG)
Charlotte Bird (KTHG)

Rest assured we have been involved in asking questions and seeking to gain assurances that the service remains secure. Following the meeting the KTHG reps are optimistic about an ongoing, open, dialogue with all parties. We assure you of our continued attention to this matter, including additional meetings with relevant authorities to further discuss recent concerns.


NHS England is conducting a review of maternity services through an online survey and drop in events, one of which is in Oxford on the 14th October 2015. The following link will take you to the information which you may be interested in:

NHS England maternity review

Edit: here is a link to the online survey: NHS England maternity review online survey


The Keep the Horton General Campaign Group is extremely concerned that the level of maternity service that they and the people of Banbury fought so hard to preserve appears to be diminishing. Patients requiring treatments that were once available here now appear to be routinely transferred to Oxford. Questions will be asked of the Oxford University Hospitals Trust (OUHT), the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group and the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

We need to know:

1. If this is happening to more women than those who have already contacted us.

2. Who exactly is doing the pushing towards the JR. Naming names would be very helpful.

The OUHT will be making more use of the underutilized scanner at the Horton Treatment Centre (run by Ramsay Healthcare) from 9th September, but there are financial constraints and the service is apparently not suitable for all patients. Please let us know about your experiences.


The Keep the Horton General Campaign Group is concerned that services are gradually disappearing from the Horton, but very little is being gained in terms of extra facilities. If you know of any service that was available, but now requires a trip to Oxford, please let us know. Conversely, if anything is now available in Banbury that in the past has meant a journey to Oxford, please let us know.

In order to present an argument regarding the lack of facilities for patients with mental health issues in Banbury, we need to know how many there are, particularly in the case of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. Please let us know if you can help with this information.


In recognition of the large amount of new housing under-way and planned in Cherwell between now and 2030, the Community Partnership Network (CPN) will be attempting an assessment of health provisions in the area in the near future. This topic will be discussed for the whole of the CPN meeting on September 22nd at Cherwell District Council.

The meeting will start at 9.30am in the large meeting room on the first floor next to the Council Chamber. As with all CPN meetings, it is open to the public and those attending should have the opportunity to comment or question.


The KTHG committee is looking into the treatment, by the Oxford University Hospitals Trust (OUHT), in Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) and Urology disciplines.

It would be helpful to know the waiting times that patients are experiencing for ENT treatments and any problems in obtaining Urology appointments.


We are sorry to report that Banbury folk hero George Parish - the man who led the campaign to save services at Banbury's Horton General Hospital for 20 years - is being forced to Oxford for his long-term nursing home needs.

George Parish celebrates at the end of the 2008 campaign

George is suffering from Alzheimer's Disease and his family have been told there is no suitable care for him in Banbury.

Oxfordshire Social Services say they cannot provide a place for him in his home town. George's daughter-in-law, Maria, is liaising with the county council in a bid to keep him close to home as his wife does not drive.

"George is currently in Larkrise care home on Bretch Hill but they are unable to meet his needs. Several other homes have also assessed him and come to the same conclusion," said Mrs Parish. "I have done a lot of research on dementia and connecting with family is an important part of his social needs. He still talks about being 'Rock and Roll Mayor' and has chatted about past family occasions with family.

"He asks for his wife Sue regularly and if he were moved to Oxford these social needs would not be met as visiting would be limited. Sue has her own health issues which prevent her travelling too far. George dedicated much of his adult life to keeping health facilities in Banbury and I know local provision is a cause he would have championed. Last year he was awarded the freedom of the town for his hard work in the community and this year he is being forced out of the town he loves."

Keith Strangwood, chairman of Keep the Horton General (KTHG), said: "George's predicament again highlights a possible lack of services locally. Keeping services local is imperative for the future well being of north Oxfordshire health service users and what George has been fighting for for two decades. KTHG will be looking very closely into this at its regular meetings. We wish George and his family well."

What are your experiences of mental health provision in the Banbury area?

Email us on keepthehortongeneral@hotmail.co.uk

Write to the Banbury Guardian - editorial@banburyguardian.co.uk

(Banbury Guardian emails now go to a central department covering 6 to 8 papers - copy Roseanne Edwards on roseanne.edwards@banburyguardian.co.uk to ensure it gets seen)

Please note - deadline for BG letters page could be as soon as Monday 10th August


KTHG are currently looking into mental health provision issues in the Banbury area. We are interested in hearing from anyone who would like to share their experience (as a patient or relative / carer). You can contact us via keepthehortongeneral@hotmail.co.uk - thank you.


Andrew Stevens, Director of Planning and Information at Oxford University Hospitals Trust, recently announced that all patients requiring endoscopy treatment will be required to travel to Oxford for the estimated four months that modernisation works are carried out at the Horton General Hospital.

Whilst this was generally applauded, the issue of patient transport has not been addressed. Keep the Horton General's Chairman, Keith Strangwood, speaking recently on BBC local news and radio, expressed concerns about the lack of co-ordination between agencies.

KTHG has learnt last weekend that, coinciding with the transfer of services to Oxford, major road works are being undertaken on the Banbury side of Oxford. Both the Wolvercote and Cutteslowe roundabouts are affected. Work is estimated to last for 16 months.

"I am absolutely astounded that the relevant departments at the OUHT, County Council and Health and Wellbeing Board did not consult with each other," said Mr Strangwood. "It would seem perfectly obvious to me that, if you are going to suspend services at one hospital and transfer that service to a hospital almost thirty miles away, you would make absolutely certain that the patients travelling from the north of the county stand a racing chance of being able to attend their appointments on time."

"On a general note, this news does not bode well for the paramedics and ambulance drivers who will undoubtedly be put under additional stress due to the traffic congestion. Let us hope that the emergency EGS patients being transferred from Banbury are done so safely and without loss of life,"he added.


Outgoing Editor of the Banbury Guardian, Jason Gibbins, has told Keep the Horton General (KTHG) in a letter prior to his departure to the BBC, that the proudest moment in his publishing career was being part of the successful campaign to save maternity and paediatric services at the Horton General Hospital in 2008.

He praised the work of George Parish, Banbury Guardian reporter Roseanne Edwards and KTHG. He said "both the hospital and the wider Banburyshire community are incredibly fortunate to have such a committed campaign team fighting its corner."

Following a recent meeting between KTHG Chairman Keith Strangwood, retired consultant Dr Peter Fisher and new MP Victoria Prentis, Mr Strangwood is encouraged by the MP's commitment to the group, to which she has pledged her support.

"Ms Prentis has said that she is keen to work with KTHG and strengthen its influence. Receiving Jason's message reinforces the message that professional people respect KTHG and the work it does. We will never rest on our laurels and continue to hold the Oxford University Hospital Trust to account," said Mr Strangwood.


Two members of Keep The Horton General recently attended a very constructive meeting with the new MP for the Banbury Constituency, Victoria Prentis.

The following useful suggestions were made:

  • that a formal complaint be made to the OUHT, regarding Keith Strangwood's below-standard treatment
  • group meetings would benefit from the regular attendance of a GP
  • contact should be made with the manager of Bicester Hospital

Victoria agreed to:

  • organise a meeting with Bruno Holthoff, the new Chief Executive of the OUHT who will take up his post in October 2015
  • provide a copy of a letter from Brussels giving assurance that Health would be excluded from TTIP

  • attend the next CPN meeting in September
  • read the KTHG dossier on Emergency Surgery


We need YOU to write to the Banbury Guardian and your MP - email addresses below

The chairman of Keep the Horton General, Keith Strangwood, has become the latest victim of Emergency Abdominal Surgery being withdrawn from the Horton General Hospital.

In January 2013 the Oxford University Hospitals Trust removed Emergency General Surgery from the Horton General Hospital without notice or consultation due to an "unexpected loss of surgeons on emergency rotas". The Banbury Guardian revealed that one surgeon had been dismissed and the other removed to other duties. It has subsequently been ruled by an Employment Tribunal that the surgeon was unfairly dismissed.

On 13 May this year, Keith Strangwood was admitted to the John Radcliffe hospital for emergency Hernia surgery. Despite arriving at 12.15pm on the Wednesday, Keith did not have his operation until 9am the following day. The reason for the nearly 21 hour delay was that only ONE operating theatre was available for emergency surgical conditions - and it was being shared with those patients requiring vascular (heart) surgery!

We believe the time is right to re-examine the whole issue of Emergency General Surgery, and to do that, we need your help.

To start things off we’re asking you to write a letter to the Banbury Guardian, as a result of this week’s front page story.

The address for letters to the Banbury Guardian is editorial@banburyguardian.co.uk

Health reporter Roseanne Edwards has requested that she be copied in: roseanne.edwards@banburyguardian.co.uk

We also recommend that you contact your MP, Victoria Prentis ( via www.victoriaprentis.com) or Andrea Leadsom (andrea.leadsom.snca@gmail.com) and make her aware of your concerns and the ongoing ramifications of Emergency General Surgery being removed from the Horton.

Facts of the case:

- Emergency General Surgery was suspended from the Horton General Hospital in January 2013 due to the unlawful and wrongful dismissal of one surgeon and the removal of another to "other duties". The suspension of the service was subsequently made permanent on "safety grounds".

- The OUHT is supposed to hold a public consultation before making significant service changes. It did not do this. Following pressure from KTHG and others, held a public meeting at Rye Hill Golf Club in February 2014. It was attended by numerous members of the public who bore witness to the OUHT spin machine.

- The loss of Emergency General Surgery from the Horton General Hospital has resulted in significant hardship, time and cost to Banburyshire patients, relatives and helpers needing to travel to the JR for assessment or treatment.

- Lack of an effective, 24/7 assessment service at the Horton General Hospital has resulted in many needless trips to the JR.

- Anecdotal evidence indicates that the JR has been unable to cope with the influx of patients, and service levels are below the standards we should be able to expect.

- The term "Emergency Abdominal Surgery" was coined by the OUHT because they thought the public wouldn’t understand "Emergency General Surgery". You can use either term. It covers a wide range of procedures, from appendix removals, ruptured and strangulated hernia operations through to lancing abscesses on bottoms!

(Link for the July 2014 article re the Employment Tribunal’s decision that the surgeon had been unfairly dismissed)


Whether you are feeling elated or let down by the general election news, here is an opportunity for you to really influence something that matters - GP and health and social services in North Oxfordshire.

The North Oxfordshire Locality Forum (a group who represent Patient Participation Groups at their GP surgeries in the north of the county) are holding a ‘question time’ forum to give members of the public the chance to hear about future plans and then ask questions of the panel.

Where: St John the Evangelist Church, The Dupuis Centre, South Bar, Banbury, OX16 9AF

When: Tuesday 12 May 2014, 7.15pm – 9pm


Keep the Horton General invite you to question the local parliamentary candidates:

Dickie Bird, UKIP
Roseanne Edwards, National Health Action Party
John Howson, Liberal Democrats
Ian Middleton, Green Party
Victoria Prentis, Conservative
Sean Woodcock, Labour

Where? St Mary's Church, Banbury
When? Thursday 16 April, 6.00 - 8.30 pm

The topic for debate is the NHS and in particular each candidate’s personal plans for the Horton General Hospital. Candidates will address the meeting, question the other candidates, and take questions from the public.

Chaired by Anita Higham OBE
Organised by Keep the Horton General

KTHG hustings poster 16 April 2015

Thanks to Kate Spencer for the donation of graphic design services.


Healthwatch Oxfordshire - an independent organisation created to listen to your views on health and social care in Oxfordshire - wants to hear from you about your experience of being discharged from hospital.

You can talk to them:
- while you are in hospital
- after you have been discharged, at home if you like
- or you can complete their online survey at http://www.healthwatchoxfordshire.co.uk


Banbury Town Hall, 6.30pm on Monday 24 February

Don’t you just wish you could tell someone how important it is to keep our services at the Horton General Hospital? Someone that the trust actually has to listen to?

Well, now you can!


The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent health and social care regulator for England. They inspect NHS organisations to check that staff and services are meeting legal standards laid down by law and then they make their findings public.

What will happen?

A large team, made of up of around 60 inspectors, will inspect the OUH’s four hospital sites from Tuesday 25 February. The inspectors are likely to be here for two days but they can then come back any time, unannounced, for spot checks over the following two weeks.

I want to talk to them! How do I get involved?

Just turn up at one of their listening events. There will be people sitting at tables waiting to talk to you!

Banbury’s will be at Banbury Town Hall, on 6.30pm on Monday 24 February

Oxford’s will be at Oxford Town Hall, also on 6.30pm on Monday 24 February

Or contact them at any time:

  • Online: http://www.cqc.org.uk/contact-us
  • Email: enquiries@cqc.org.uk
  • Post: CQC, Citygate, Gallowgate, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4PA
  • Phone: 03000 61 61 61

If you’ve got something to say, to someone who wants to listen - THIS IS YOUR OPPORTUNITY!


It was pleasing to see the hall full of supporters despite the dreadful weather, blocked roads, complete lack of signage, inappropriate location and registration hurdles!

The two-and-a-half hour meeting was packed with information, questions and answers which will take us a while to go through. While we come up with our definitive statement, you can:

  • check out the Banbury Guardian’s report or
  • read out blow-by-blow account, tweeted live from the scene, on twitter (twitter handle @savethehorton )
  • at long last, here is a link to the trust's video of the meeting - one that actually works http://www.ouh.nhs.uk/news/article.aspx?id=197


The trust has told some people who registered today that the venue is now full, so they will not be admitted to the meeting, but will instead be put on a reserve list.

Our advice is, IF YOU HAVE NOT REGISTERED DIRECTLY, PLEASE DO SO IMMEDIATELY to give yourself the best possible chance of being admitted if other people do not turn up.

For those of you who are on the reserve list, and for anyone who has not registered directly with Caroline Rouse, we urge you to ATTEND ANYWAY to make the point that it is a public meeting.

However, if you have not registered AND you are unwell or expect to suffer undue hardship getting there, please take the likelihood of non-admittance into account when deciding whether or not to make the trip.

Join our facebook group Save Our Horton to have your say - this is a hot topic right now!

Come and say hello

The campaigners will be wearing Keep the Horton General t-shirts at the meeting on Wednesday, come and say hello!


Wednesday 5 February 2014 6pm - 8.15pm

We were notified today, exactly eight days prior to the desperately important meeting about the withdrawal of Emergency Abdominal Surgery, that the "meeting in Banbury" will actually be held at Rye Hill Golf Club, Milcombe - a venue some 6 miles from Banbury with no public transport links to anywhere.

Our own enquiries indicated that St Mary’s, the obvious venue, is available on that date. However, the trust say they have an email that states otherwise, so there is clearly some confusion here which at the time of writing remains unresolved.

Nonetheless, it is widely agreed that the venue choice is a poor one. There are several areas of high deprivation in Banbury where many of the residents do not own their own transport. At a single stroke, the OUHT and OCCG have denied all those people a chance to have their say about the future of their hospital (unless they are prepared to take the chance that they will get a space on the first-come first-served coach that the OUHT/OCCG have laid on). The venue choice will also create a significant barrier to others, who will be reluctant to drive across town to an unfamiliar location in poor weather, or those who would have come along to the meeting when their shift finished had it been held in town.

This is in addition to the barrier presented by the requirement to register. (You can register by calling the trust's representaive Caroline Rouse on 01865 231472 or emailing caroline.rouse@ouh.nhs.uk)

We will endeavour to ensure that the people of Banburyshire have the opportunity to have their say, in the face of this additional obstacle and will let you know further developments asap.

Bus details

From the trust’s press release:

"As there is no public transport to this venue we have made arrangements with a local coach company, Cheney Travel, to provide a coach from Banbury Cross to the venue and back again for anyone who is unable to get there by private car.

The coach will wait at Banbury Cross from 5pm and then leave promptly at 5.30pm in order to reach the venue in time for the meeting. Places on the coach do not need to be booked but will be allocated on a first come first served basis. The coach will then leave the golf club at 8.30pm and return to Banbury Cross"

We understand the bus has seats for 53 people.


Public meeting 5 February 2014


Emergency abdominal surgery was removed from the Horton without any warning exactly a year ago. The Oxford University Hospitals Trust promised us all a public consultation - but this failed to materialise.

Due to an impassioned presentation by Keep the Horton General chairman, Keith Strangwood, to the Health and Overview Scrutiny Committee in Oxford last month, it was agreed that there would be a public meeting.

The trust’s Public Event will be held in Banbury on Wednesday 5 February 2014 from 6pm-8.15pm. They haven't advised the venue yet.

This will be an opportunity for local people to give their views on the kinds of outpatient clinics and day surgery they would like to see brought to the Horton from the hospitals in Oxford, as well as to discuss the issue of emergency abdominal surgery on the Horton General Hospital site.

This is your opportunity to make your thoughts and experiences known at a public forum. Please come, and also tell anyone who is a potential Horton user. Join us and have your say!

IMPORTANT: you need to register to attend but don’t let this put you off - all you have to do is email caroline.rouse@ouh.nhs.uk ("I am coming to the meeting in Banbury on 5 Feb" will do) or call 01865 231472.

Press release Jan 14 - Public Meeting

Summary of our statement to the Oxfordshire Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee

As the Oxford University Hospital Trust has failed to carry out the legally required consultation process re loss of a major service from the Horton, we asked that the matter be referred to the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, for his consideration. The referral to the Secretary of State for Health was proposed and seconded by Cllr Sibley and Cllr Pete Handley.

Following debate, it was agreed that that a public meeting would take place early 2014, in Banbury, in regards to loss of services at the Horton. The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (the group who decides which services are provided and by whom) will feed back the input from that consultation to a Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting, scheduled for 27th February 2014, for their consideration.

North Oxfordshire lost its representation on the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee at the last local elections, and our efforts to rectify the situation since then have been unsuccessful. The lack of a North Oxfordshire voice was very clear during the debate, and this has spurred us on in our efforts to get a Keep the Horton General campaigner co-opted onto the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee at the next opportunity, likely to be Jan/Feb 14.

Do you want a say in how Oxfordshire’s health services are run?

The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (the group which decides which services are purchased and provided) is holding a meeting at Banbury Cricket Club on 3 December 2013.

If you want to have a say in what is going on in your health service, you’ll want to be there!

IMPORTANT : please note that you have to formally ask to attend (see the OCCG’s message, below) Don’t be put off if you want to go! There will be lots of Keep the Horton General members there to keep you company.

Here’s the OCCG’s message in full:

Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group Our Strategic Direction: 2013 - 2018

You’ve been invited to participate in the Our Strategic Direction: 2013 - 2018 consultation by the consultation manager, Julia Stackhouse.

Our Strategic Direction: 2013 - 2018, describes our views about the challenges the NHS in Oxfordshire faces over the next five years, and the emerging strategy to deal with these issues. The purpose of this document is to enable a debate with our partners, staff, people who use our services and live in Oxfordshire about what needs to do to be done to address these issues, and how the local NHS should work together to deliver the changes required.

OCCG wants to ask you if the opportunities identified in our strategy will help to address the challenges in Oxfordshire. Your views on how you can help us to achieve and maintain financial stability in Oxfordshire, are really important. To participate in this debate you can:

  • Download the document which sets out OCCGs’ Strategic Direction: 2013 - 2018 and send your comments in to us by using the following url: https://consult.oxfordshireccg.nhs.uk/consult.ti/5yrstrat/consultationHome
  • Answer our online survey: https://consult.oxfordshireccg.nhs.uk/consult.ti/5yrstrat/consultationHome
  • Participate in our discussion forum: https://consult.oxfordshireccg.nhs.uk/consult.ti/5yrstrat/consultationHome
  • Attend a public meeting to discuss your ideas and hear the views of others:
  • Wantage, 19 November, 1pm - 5pm
  • Witney, 20 November, 6.30pm - 9.30pm
  • Oxford, 21 November, 9am - 12pm
  • Banbury, 3 December, 1pm - 5pm
  • Bicester, 5 December, 9am - 1pm
  • Wallingford, 19 December, 9am - 1pm

For further information about the events or to book a place to attend, please contact 01865 334638 or email cscsu.talkinghealth@nhs.net

(Please note, if you haven’t used Talking Health before you will need to complete the registration form first)

If you would like to book to attend any of the events, or would like to request hard copies of the survey, please contact us at cscsu.talkinghealth@nhs.net or phone 01865 334638. We would also encourage you to share this information above with other contacts or organisations that you think would like to get involved.

Lobbying pays off!

Months of tenacious lobbying has paid off - we’re delighted to say that, at last, the Horton situation is going to be discussed at the next meeting of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

Why is that important?

The Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee is the ONLY group who can refer this to the Secretary of State for Health. In the last campaign, this referral was a vital step in overturning plans to axe obstetrics and paediatrics.

So this is really good news!

Keith Strangwood praised the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee chairman, Councillor Lawrie Stratford, for agreeing to take this issue on. "We’re confident that he will ensure the Horton Hospital concerns are thoroughly scrutinised,"聺 he said. "The OUHT can’t be allowed to get away with using the Royal College of Surgeons report to justify the removal all Emergency General Surgery from the Horton General Hospital, when the report supports no such thing."

The RCS report was at the centre of the decision to axe Emergency General Surgery and was finally released in late August, after months of pressure and investigation by the Keep the Horton General campaign. The Trust had done nothing to correct the misconception that the report supported the removal of all Emergency General Surgery, and the long delay in releasing the report added to the confusion.

The report, when finally released, was found to be much narrower in scope, and related to only one single type of operation, laparoscopic cholecystectomies, not the whole of Emergency General Surgery.

Keep the Horton General will continue to lobby other influential groups and individuals who were misled by the Trust’s misrepresentation of the contents of the Royal College of Surgeons report.

Why was Emergency Abdominal Surgery removed? OUHT to face public questioning

Are you interested in hearing the OUHT’s justification for the sudden removal of Emergency Abdominal Surgery from the Horton?

The Community Partnership Network is meeting at Cherwell District Council at 10am on Tuesday 10 September 2013. For the first time, the OUHT will face public questioning about the recently-released, redacted Royal College of Surgeons’ report. This report was widely thought to have suggested the removal of Emergency Abdominal Surgery - but it didn’t!

KTHG will be there in force and will be asking some searching questions. If you want your voice heard, or simply want to hear what the OUHT have got to say in response, please join us. All welcome.

Where is the meeting?

Cherwell District Council’s offices in Bodicote.

What time?

10.00 am on Tuesday 10th September 2013

You’re sure I’m invited?


A new way to contact Keep the Horton General

You can now contact Keep the Horton General by phone. Call us on 07740 599736 and leave a message if not answered immediately. We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

Of course you can still email keepthehortongeneral@hotmail.co.uk or message Horton Campaigner on Facebook, if you prefer.

OCCG to meet in Banbury, 25 July 2013

The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group are the people who decide which NHS services are commissioned (i.e. which services are funded and provided). They are holding a Meeting in Public at Banbury Cricket Club in Bodicote, from 9.30 to 12.30 on Thursday 25th July.

The public is allocated a 15 minute slot for questions related to the agenda items. Questions should be submitted in advance by one of these methods:

Email: oxon.gpc@nhs.net

Write to:
The OCCG Business Manager
Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group
Jubilee House
5510 John Smith Drive
Oxford Business Park

Or hand a hard copy of your question to the OCCG Business Manager at the meeting.

Where is the meeting?

Banbury Cricket Club in Bodicote.

What time?

9.30am to 12.30 on Thursday 25 July 2013

You’re sure I’m invited?


New chairman for Keep the Horton General

Following an excellent day at the Banbury Show (Sunday 9 June 2013) promoting the work of Keep the Horton General campaign and meeting hundreds of interested local residents, we are delighted to confirm the appointment of Keith Strangwood as Chairman.

Former local councillor Keith has a wealth of contacts both amongst members of the public and through his work with local and county councils. His depth of knowledge of local affairs will undoubtedly be a major asset to the campaign.

Acting Chair, Charlotte Bird, now Vice Chair says "The campaign group is extremely fortunate to have a person of the calibre of Keith Strangwood taking over the role of Chair left vacant after the retirement of George Parish. We will become a stronger group as a result. George, Honorary Chairman, is still very much the figurehead of the campaign group as was proved on Sunday when he found himself being mobbed during his visit to the KTHG stand."

Newly appointed Chairman Keith is enthusiastic about his new role.

"It has been a privilege and pleasure to work alongside George and all the members of the KTHG .We are all volunteers who give up our time and work as a team to ensure our much loved Horton General Hospital retains all its needed services. There is nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer, as they will not stop until the job is done. The KTHG is a huge heart that is working for all the Horton staff and users. I thank the members for appointing me as Chairman and would like to thank all of its current members and past members for keeping the group united in its cause".

Press release 17 June 2013

New email address

We must confess we were a bit puzzled when Sir Jonathan Michael criticised us for saying there was a crisis, because we thought we’d been careful not to say that - just to spell out where there were proposals for change. Then we worked it out.

We were still using the "hortoncrisis" email address.

This was the email address we used during the maternity / paediatrics campaign a few years ago, which most people agree was indeed a crisis. We just carried on using the email address without any thought.

Cue some frantic revision of all our publicity material ready for the Banbury Show on Sunday 9th June! We owe a huge thank you to Mark at Buzz Design and Kevin at Colourburst, who put together the new graphics and printed the flyers and carstickers in record time. Absolutely fantastic service. Thank you so much, Mark and Kevin.

Our new email address is keepthehortongeneral@hotmail.co.uk but the old one will keep working for a while so we don’t miss anything important.

Please note:

Monday 3 June 2013 is NOT a public meeting

Please note the error made by the Banbury Cake in their article dated 30 May 2013. The meeting between KTHG and the OUHT on Monday 3 June is NOT a public meeting.

CPN Meeting -

Tuesday 11 June 2013 IS a public meeting

Members of the public ARE invited to attend the meeting of the Community Partnership Network (CPN) on 11 June. There should be the opportunity to ask questions of the OUHT. However please note that public attendance is limited by the available space, and due to time there may not be the opportunity for all attendees to ask their question. If you’re thinking of coming it would be great if you could let us know so we have an idea of numbers.

What is it?

The CPN is a forum where representatives of all the groups with an interest in the Horton General Hospital can talk through proposals with the OUHT. We have two members.

Where is the meeting?

Cherwell District Council’s offices in Bodicote.

What time?

10am on Tuesday 11 June 2013

You’re sure I’m invited?


A statement from Keep the Horton General regarding "crisis" allegations

In response to Sir Jonathan Michael’s letter of 1 May 2013 to Sir Tony Baldry, in which he wrote "I very much share your frustrations about the manner in which the Banbury Guardian and the Keep the Horton General group are seeking to give the impression that there is some form of crisis at the Horton", Keep the Horton General made the following statement.

"The only Horton 'crisis' we are aware of was the one announced by the OUH on the 16th January.

At an emergency meeting of the Community Partnership Network (CPN) we were told that due to the sudden and unforeseen absence of several surgeons it was no longer possible to carry out Emergency Abdominal Surgery at the Horton and all patients requiring this would have to be sent to Oxford.

What was not made clear at the time was that this did not mean just those found to need urgent operation (on average 5 per week) but all those needing assessment for possible surgery, amounting to 4 times that number. There was reference to a specially commissioned report by the Royal College of Surgeons declaring the Horton service to be unsafe but whether this was due to shortage of staff, lack of appropriate skills or other factors is unknown to us as no details of the report have ever been released, despite numerous requests. It has now been stated that a redacted version will be made available 'in due course'

Whatever the problem may have been, it has been made plain that the Trust does not intend to correct it. This means not only that for the foreseeable future all patients with possible abdominal emergencies will have to be assessed in Oxford but there are further potential consequences not only for the surgical service but for others, including the admission of medical emergencies.

This is a major source of concern to us and the reason we have continued to seek clarification of the long term plans for the Horton. We are told that the change is 'in line with modern medical practice'. If this is so it must be affecting other hospitals of the size of the Horton so we asked at the January meeting for examples from elsewhere. No such evidence has yet been forthcoming so we are carrying out our own investigations.

Despite all the above, the Trust intends to include this transfer of emergency abdominal surgery in a formal 3 month consultation. This has been postponed twice, initially to late May to avoid clashing with the Local Elections and now until December, apparently to give the Clinical Commissioning Group time to prepare, although papers to the Group’s March Board meeting implied it was ready for a start in May. In any case, there must be a question mark over the validity of a consultation when the decision has already been taken.

There have been changes in several other Horton Services, sometimes after notification that a review was taking place, allowing opportunity for comment, in others, like Radiology, they appear to have taken place without any notice to the CPN . Even where we have been aware of an ongoing review, it has been difficult to get information on how it is progressing and final decisions have sometimes been announced in very general terms, capable of different interpretations.

It has now been agreed that the Trust will provide answers to a series of questions we have submitted and senior staff will attend a meeting of KTHG on 3rd June to discuss those answers. The questions and answers will then be reported to a meeting of CPN on 11th June which will be open to members of the public who will then have the opportunity to make their own judgment on whether KTHG has been acting in their best interests."

Response to comments by OUHT chief executive Sir Jonathan Michael

Well, it seems we’ve hit a bit of a bump.

BG front page 16 05 2013

In a letter to Sir Tony Baldry, OUHT Chief Executive Sir Jonathan Michael bemoaned the fact that OUHT staff are spending "a great deal of time" responding to questions from the Banbury Guardian and Keep the Horton General; and that our campaign risked undermining public confidence in the Horton, which he said "could result in precisely the scenario which the campaigners are saying they are seeking to avoid". He also went to some lengths to try to explain how removal of various services does not actually constitute a threat.

Keep The Horton General and the Banbury Guardian think it’s important to ask questions about services at the Horton General Hospital, particularly when those services are removed without consultation or full explanation, and when we can’t get clear answers to straightforward questions about the futures of other services on which a District General Hospital depends.

We’ve put a lot of effort into defending our hospital against those who would prefer to see as many services as possible transferred to Oxford, so we think it’s unfair to suggest that we are responsible for undermining public confidence, when all we are doing is bringing the proposals to the public’s attention. As the Banbury Guardian says in its headline: "Don’t shoot the messenger!"

Acting Chair Charlotte Bird responded to Sir Jonathan’s letter with this message;

"The aim of the Keep The Horton General Campaign is to ensure that the full quality services of a District General Hospital are retained at the Horton, in order to serve the rapidly growing population of Banburyshire.

In doing so, it is important to maintain a dialogue with the decision makers. It is often necessary to clarify certain points either where there is ambiguity, or where detailed information is lacking, or where patients have informed us that the system is not working as anticipated.

We are disappointed that the Chief Executive of the OUHT is frustrated at our attempts to communicate with the Trust and with the public.

As a group, we would be delighted to stop giving up thousands of hours of our free time to defend our services, if the OUHT would guarantee that they will be retained at the Horton General Hospital, and back this up by actually doing it. We maintain that in the absence of such assurances, we have correctly alerted the public to the fact that changes have occurred and are being proposed.

Here’s what we need you to do

Last time services were threatened, the opinions of the GPs were instrumental in helping the Independent Reconfiguration Panel reach their decision to retain paediatrics and obstetrics at the Horton General Hospital.

The GPs are in charge of commissioning services now (ie deciding which services and treatments will be funded and by whom).

We need you to WRITE TO YOUR GP, RIGHT NOW so he or she understands how important it is to keep Emergency Abdominal Surgery, and the full services of a District General Hospital, at the Horton.

Tell them how stressful it is to get to the JR, and how much it costs you in time and money. If you’ve been sent to the JR for treatment, make sure they know how long it took to be seen, how long you spent on a trolley, how long you waited for medication, how you got there and back, how much inconvenience you and your relatives suffered.

3,000 of you wrote last time, and it made a difference. Let’s make a difference again.

What’s going on?

Right now, we’re facing several threats.

Emergency Abdominal Surgery (eg gallbladder operations, appendicitis, pancreatitis, diverticulitis) was suspended without notice back in January due to sudden loss of consultant surgeons. The stated plan was to transfer people needing Emergency Abdominal Surgery to the John Radcliffe in Oxford; about 5 people per week. However, in practice, a much greater number are being transferred, because the initial assessment is not being done in Banbury.

In many cases, patients are being asked to make their own way there. This takes up to 1.5 hours each way by car, or 3 hours each way by public transport (up to 5.5 hours from villages). Furthermore, patients are experiencing horrendous waits when they get to the JR. One person was shuffled back and forth between the hospitals, suffering a wait of 54 hours between admission and being seen by a doctor on the ward. Another waited 20 hours on a trolley before being given a bed.

Other potential threats include radiology and pharmacy, which are vital support services that enable the hospital to function properly 24/7. We’re worried about the domino effect on other services.

There are inexplicable plans to replace the self-contained Special Care Baby Unit with cots at the mothers’ bedsides in the general ante-natal ward.

And last but most worrying, there is also a wide-ranging consultation which will consult on making the Emergency Abdominal Surgerychanges permanent. This was due to start sometime in the summer, but has now been delayed. However, we are concerned that this decision may have already been taken, as it has been stated that the missing surgeons at the Horton General Hospital will not be replaced.

What are we doing about it?

Right now, we’re doing a lot of work behind the scenes trying to get to the bottom of what’s going on and who is actually of influence. There’s no Independent Reconfiguration Panel to see sense this time, so it isn’t clear-cut.

What can I do?

You can help by:

1) Joining our facebook group Save Our Horton. Invite your friends to join so we can contact all our supporters instantly, in our own words. Go to Save Our Horton and use the box in the top right to add your friends. Please share messages and images you find interesting on your timeline to help raise awareness.

2) If you are a member of staff, contact us in confidence to tell us about your concerns. Are you worried about patient safety, service changes, your own working conditions, or anything else? If you have concerns, do you know how to escalate them? We promise we will NOT reveal your identity.

3) If you are a patient, we want to hear about your experience. How long did you have to wait? Did anything go wrong? How did the fact that you were in the JR instead of the Horton impact you and your family?

4) Tell your GP. The government’s forced them to take charge of commissioning (deciding how the money is spent) so they need to know our priorities. If they don’t know things are going wrong, they can’t act.

5) Can you help with the campaign? We need you! Our previous campaign was a hugely successful mix of personalities and skills; public speakers, NHS insiders, web/graphic designers, signature collectors, minute takers, good organisers, report writers and number crunchers. Whatever your skills, we need you.

Please email us at keepthehortongeneral@hotmail.co.uk or message Horton Campaigner on Facebook.

Thank you for caring about our hospital.

Together, let’s make sure we get the service we’re supposed to have.

Community Partnership Network meeting

5 March 2013

Campaigners from Keep the Horton General (aka Save Our Horton) will be attending the Community Partnership Network (CPN) meeting on Tues 5 March.

Topics for discussion are Emergency Abdominal Surgery, proposed changes to SCBU & pharmacy services, and the forthcoming consultation on the future of the Horton General Hospital. We’re hoping to raise a lot of currently unanswered questions and also communicate the rising levels of concern in the community.

What is the CPN? The CPN brings together representatives from all the groups that have declared an interest in health services in Banbury. We have two representatives on the CPN. In theory, the Oxford University Hospitals Trust has to run all proposed service changes past the CPN, and take the CPN’s view into account when making decisions..

Surgeons Removed from Horton Posts

February 2013

The Banbury Guardian has revealed that the reason for the suspension of emergency surgery at the Horton General Hospital was due to the removal of two surgeons from their posts. One was dismissed and the other removed to "other duties". When asked why, the Oxford University Hospitals Trust refused to comment.

Although we were initially advised that this move would affect only around 5 patients per week, commenters on our facebook group tell us that the impact has been much greater. Some patients were told to make their own way to the John Radcliffe, 29 miles away, where it took up to 17 hours to be seen.

We don’t think this is acceptable and are asking people to tell us of their experiences to help us decide an appropriate response. Please email keepthehortongeneral@hotmail.co.uk to tell us about your experience.

Emergency Surgery Supended at the Horton General Hospital

January 2013

Emergency surgery for cases such as appendicitis or bowel and gallbladder problems is being suspended at the Horton General Hospital from Friday 18 January 2013.

In a move that has shocked staff and campaigners by its speed, the Oxford University Hospitals Trust (OUH) hastily told Horton staff and the community partnership network of stakeholders in confidential meetings yesterday (Wednesday) morning. Unions have questioned the immediate suspension of emergency abdominal surgery without public consultation, which is required for major service changes at hospitals.

But the trust says it has been forced into the move because of an ‘unexpected’ loss of surgeons on emergency rotas which cannot be covered by Oxford specialists without affecting their work at the John Radcliffe. “There are no longer sufficient numbers of consultants in the emergency surgical team at the Horton to secure a safe service for patients,” the OUH said in yesterday’s statement.

“Therefore the trust has taken a decision to suspend emergency abdominal surgery at the Horton General Hospital and transfer such surgery to the John Radcliffe from Friday,” its statement said. Paul Brennan, director of clinical services, would not expand on the reason for the shortage of consultants.

However he did say if colleagues from the JR were brought in to cover the shortage at the Horton it would impact on the care of Oxford patients and too many positions had been vacated to be filled by locums.

He said: “We do strongly believe emergency surgery should be rationalised but we didn’t want to be in the position where we are taking action in advance of the consultation.”

Trust bosses say the move will still form part of a three-month public consultation for a Vision for the Horton which begins in March.

GPs have already been told to refer suspected abdominal emergency cases to the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford instead of the Horton and ambulance crews will take such patients directly to the Headington site.

The OUH said the change affects an average of only five cases a week. Freeing surgeons from emergencies would allow them to perform more routine abdominal surgery at the Horton.

They rejected fears of a knock-on effect on other emergency services such as A&E in cases such as traffic or sporting accidents if ambulance crews suspect internal damage to organs such as the spleen.

A trust officer said paramedics would be told to take patients with suspected internal injuries straight to the JR, as is the current situation.

Unconfirmed cases would be taken to the Horton for assessment and stabilisation and only if internal injury were confirmed would they be taken by blue light to Oxford. A second surgeon from Oxford would attend the Horton to assist with patients too badly injured to be moved.

She said trauma services would not be affected and operating theatres will continue to be open and staffed night and day.

In its statement the OUH wrapped up the suspension of emergency abdominal surgery with news that it plans a £1m upgrade to outpatients, has secured maternity and paediatric services using enhanced consultant rotas, is expanding day case surgery and is also committed to securing A&E services with these, into the future.

Charlotte Bird, acting chairman of the Keep the Horton General Campaign said: “It’s too early to say much as we haven’t analysed the statement but is this the thin end of the wedge? Will we get the service back? Is the OUH likely to reinstate this emergency surgery if it’s already been taken on by the JR for five months?”

Proposed changes to SCBU

January 2013

We want to understand how the potential changes to SCBU would affect users.

If you have used the Horton SCBU or post natal ward, we would like to hear about your experience, and in particular, how you feel it would have been different if SCBU had been merged in with the post-natal ward. What would your concerns be?

If you would like to contribute, please email your response to keepthehortongeneral@hotmail.co.uk

(Please note - it is possible that, IF this proposal goes any further, we might wish to share your response with the Trust to help them understand how their decision would affect people on a personal level. If you would like your submission to remain anonymous, please write KEEP ANONYMOUS in the subject line)

Thank you.

We need you!

December 2012

Are you worried and frustrated about current threats to the Horton General Hospital?

Would you like to do more to help?

KTHG are in need of positive, committed people who want to make a difference. At the height of a campaign, we meet about once a week to talk through developments and plan how to respond. We need to get a few more people on board as soon as we can, so you can get up to speed while the volume of information is still manageable. The best campaigns involve a mix of personalities and skills; the only requirement is that you are a team-player.

Email keepthehortongeneral@hotmail.co.uk if you want to get more involved.

Proposed changes to SCBU

December 2012

We are keeping a close eye on the proposed changes in the way SCBU operates, and have asked for a detailed report on the options being looked at before the next meeting of the Community Partnership Network in March. We have been given written assurance that whatever change might be made, there will continue to be the same level of SCBU provision at the Horton.

Trust seeks Foundation Status

June 2012

The Oxford Univeristy Hospitals Trust (OUH) is beginning a consultation to become a Foundation Trust, a move which would see it getting more control over its own finances, and which it must complete by late 2013.

Management argue that this will give the public more say in their services, but unions argue that it leads to unhealthy competition between hospitals.

Banbury’s public consultation is to be held on Tuesday July 24th, from 2.00 until 3.30pm at St Mary’s Church.

Budget cuts may threaten Horton jobs

June 2012

A local newspaper has revealed that the Oxford Univeristy Hospitals Trust (OUH) could be forced to make 脗拢160m savings over four years as part of the government’s drive to slash 脗拢20bn from the NHS budget. OUH Chief Executive Sir Jonathan Michael said that 脗拢49m savings (5% of total budget) must be found in the first year. Plans are in the early stages so it is not yet possible to say which services may be threatened as a result.

Strategic Health Authority review threatens maternity services

June 2012

We have learned of a potential new threat to obstetrics (doctor-led maternity) at the Horton General Hospital. It is possible that all six obstetric trainee posts may be abolished by August 2014, leaving the Horton as a midwife-led unit.

This is due to a review by the South Central Strategic Health Authority, which says that the number of births at the Horton is too low; and a decrease in the number of trainees across the NHS in general.

Last time we faced this threat, midwives, local GPs and the Independent Reconfiguration Panel agreed that the JR is too far for women in labour to travel. They agreed that moving doctor-led maternity to Oxford would leave women in the Banbury area with an unsafe service. Furthermore, the government states that women are supposed to be given a choice of home birth, midwife-led or consultant-led delivery. This is difficult if there is no consultant unit within 25 miles.

Of course, there are a lot of people working hard to find a solution. But in the current climate, this isn’t going to be easy. So how can you help?

1) Any increase in the number of births at the Horton General Hospital will help. It is important that expectant mums know that THEY can choose where to give birth, and that they do not have to follow their doctor’s recommendations (although obviously this is wise where safety is concerned). The more relaxed, "family" environment offered by the Horton is available to all women, including those living in Kidlington, Bicester or even Oxford itself.

Do you know anyone who is expecting? Perhaps someone who has simply assumed that they will use the JR without giving the other options any thought? Please tell them that the Horton offers an easily accessible service, in a relaxed, family atmosphere, with full consultant support in the unit. Encourage them to visit the Horton and the JR and experience the difference for themselves.

2) Please join our Save Our Horton facebook group and encourage your friends to do the same. Becoming "friends" with Horton Campaigner means we can contact as many people as possible, right when we need to.

The Horton - under threat again.......

August 2011

Keep the Horton General Campaigners were disappointed to learn that the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals Trust (ORHT) is pressing ahead plans to end the Horton Hospital’s dedicated gynaecology ward. Banbury gynaecology ward (G-Ward), where specialist nurses care for women having operations, suffering miscarriages, post-childbirth problems, haemorrhages and other problems, will end its overnight care this month. The ward will become a daycase unit for minor operations and patients needing to stay will be put in E Ward, a mixed surgical ward.

G-Ward staff were told of the plan as school holidays began at the end of July. In spite of staff and union rep absences they drew up a paper citing potential problems with the changes and presented an alternative plan, allowing the ward to stay open fully from Monday to Friday.

Last Wednesday, Keep the Horton General (KTHG) campaigners and other stakeholders attended a packed meeting with senior representatives of the ORHT. KTHG vice chair Charlotte Bird said, “We were lead to believe the ORHT proposals were not set in stone and the counter proposals would be discussed at a meeting attended by management and the Banbury staff last Friday. One nurse asked for clarification and was assured the nurses would be given feedback on Thursday to be digested and discussed ahead of Friday’s meeting.

“On Thursday, only a day after the meeting at Bodicote, Prof Stephen Kennedy, clinical director of women’s services, wrote a letter to staff saying the counter proposals would not be part of the way forward and the trust’s plan stands - G ward becoming a day facility Monday – Friday with anyone needing to stay overnight accommodated on the General Surgical, E ward.

“There was no discussion, no compromise, no opportunity for the people on the front line to have their say, job done. It was only by sheer chance members of the campaign found out about this because of the complete lack of communication by the ORH with stakeholders,” said Mrs Bird.

KTHG believes that while the standard of daycase services in Banbury and Oxford is now fairer, the standard of care is being reduced for inpatients with more serious problems. For example, gynaecological patients in Oxford who need overnight care have it in a dedicated area in the Women’s Hospital. Mrs Bird added, “So, women of Banbury and surrounding areas, rest assured that the KTHG campaign and the nursing staff at the Horton Hospital did everything they could to save gynae service for you but I’m afraid on this occasion we failed.”

Sheila Snooks, Unison rep at the Horton said last Wednesday’s meeting was a waste of time. “No one knew the result of staff consultation but the final decision must have been taken,” she said. “Is this all part of trying to meet the criteria needed for becoming a Foundation Trust? We know the trust is under awful pressure to save money but Stephen Kennedy said it was about bringing the service in line with Oxford"

In his letter to staff, Prof Kennedy said: “As a result of particular concerns... in relation to beds available for overnight and major gynae emergencies we are taking steps to amend the number of inpatient beds available (in E Ward) from four to six. We are committed to moving forward with our proposals... ensuring equity of care and the expansion of services in north Oxfordshire.” He said implemention would start this month and progress over the next three months.

The Oxfordshire Health and Overview Scrutiny Committee - which referred Horton downgrading plans to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel, winning a reprieve for full acute services - will discuss the changes next week.

Charity Event

Katherine Allen Bridal in Banbury are holding a charity fundraising event for The Horton General Hospital, with an evening of drinks and nibbles at their shop on Thursday 6th October, 6pm 芒€“ 9.30pm. Entry will cost 脗拢5 with all proceeds going to the charity. The evening will include entertainment from harpist Karina Bell, beverages provided by Vitis Wines. Proceeds will be donated to the Horton General Hospital.

July 2011

Campaigners have been recalled to the fight, as once again the people of North Oxfordshire find services at the Horton General Hospital under threat

In response to the difficult financial climate, the ORHT has announced the loss of 10 medical beds and 7 surgical beds at the Horton General Hospital, plus changes to the gynaecology service that will result in the loss of a further 8 beds. The ORHT hopes to offset the planned bed losses through innovative solutions to the perennial problem of bed-blocking. However, the Horton seems to be bearing a disproportionate share of the bed losses, at 7% of total beds, compared to 3.2% at the JR and Churchill sites.

We are also aware that the plan to find and implement a safe, sustainable maternity service in Banbury is slipping - despite the Independent Reconfiguration Panel concluding that Banbury needs a full obstetric service.

Our response:

We acknowledge that in the current financial climate the ORHT’s budget is being frozen in real terms, while the demand for services and the cost of services rise, and that this will create problems for service provision.

We support the ORHT’s efforts to reduce bed-blocking, which would, if succesful, go some way toward mitigating the planned losses of beds.

We want open and truthful communication between the ORHT, staff and external stakeholders, to avoid a return to the bad old days of mistrust

We want to work with the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group to ensure that changes are made where there will be least impact to current and future sercices, and the Horton General Hospital does not bear an unfair share of the service cuts.

We want the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group to commit to finding and implementing the IRP-compliant obstetric solution as soon as possible.

What can you do?

First, if you have a facebook account, join our Save the Horton facebook group, and encourage your friends to join too. It’s the fastest and most direct method we have of communicating directly with the people who care about the Horton General Hospital.

Second, we’re going to ask you to write letters. Thousands of you wrote last time the Horton General Hospital was threatened - personal, powerful letters that persuaded the IRP to support our cause. We’ll give you the addresses as soon as we have them (they’ll be different to last time)

Personal letters are most effective but, the key points as we see them are:

- Banburyshire needs (and indeed the IRP requires) the Horton remains a local, fully functioning General Hospital

- An IRP-compliant maternity (obstetric) solution must be put in place as soon as possible, to safeguard the service in the current financial climate

- When the ORHT and OCCG make decisions, they must be careful to avoid undermining other services, and must ensure that any cuts at the Horton are fair and proportionate.

- Please be reassured that so far as we are aware, A&E and paediatrics (children’s ward) are not threatened by the current plans.


- but remember, we did it before

- we can do it again!

WE DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Campaigners celebrate with a commemorative photo call - and receive a surprise visit from PM David Cameron

2 July 2010

Campaigners and stakeholders, gathering for a commemorative photo call to celebrate the decision to save paediatric and obstetric services at Banbury’s Horton General Hospital, were amazed to find Prime Minister David Cameron was a surprise guest at the event.

Mr Cameron, whose constituency falls partly within the Horton’s catchment area, has been an enthusiastic supporter of the cross-party campaign. He had previously visited the hospital to show his support and, together with other local MPs, spoke before the influential Independent Reconfiguration Panel, helping to influence their historic decision.

Mr Cameron is pictured (below left) with tireless Keep the Horton General Campaign chairman George Parish, local digitaries and campaigners, and (below right) with campaigners Charlotte Bird and Jan Justice.

Photos: Steve Wheeler.


14 June 2010

At their board meeting this afternoon, the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals Trust APPROVED the plans and agreed to provide their share of the extra cost of running 24/7 paediatrics and obstetrics at the Horton General Hospital in Banbury. The plan, which will see childrens and maternity service provided via a consultant led service, will now be put in place, with the recruitment of additional consultants.

This means that our sick children and mothers in labour will continue to receive safe, local treatment instead of having to spend hours in traffic to get to the JR in Oxford. We’re certain that lives will be saved as a result of this decision, and the lives many others who rely on open access will have been saved from becoming immeasurably harder.

There are too many people to thank individually for the huge commitment they’ve made to this campaign over the last 7 years - but you know who you are guys and I’m sure everyone is sending you a big thank you for putting your lives on hold for so long. Long may this solution last!

Thank you everyone, and please - join or stay a member of our facebook group - it’s the cheapest and most direct method we have of keeping in touch with people who care about the Horton. Heaven forbid, we need to call on you again.

But for now - Hands are most definitely OFF the Horton!

Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust agrees to support the consultant-led service

27 May 2010

The plan to safeguard obstetric and paediatric services at the Horton General Hospital has moved a step closer to reality, as the Primary Care Trust has agreed to support the proposal to allow Banbury’s 24/7 childrens and maternity services to continue.

They have agreed to provide £1.5 million towards the extra £2.4 million it will cost annually for consultants to run the services.

Now it is up to the ORHT - which runs the Horton - to agree the plan and decide whether it is willing to fund the remaining £900,000 per year. The Board meets on 14 June.

We’d like to tell the ORHT how much the Horton means to the people of the Banbury area, so please email us with your messages of support. We’ll pass your messages on in advance of the meeting.

You can email us at keepthehortongeneral@hotmail.co.uk

Programme Board agrees to support the consultant-led service

May 2010

We’re very pleased to report that the Programme Board has agreed to support the consultant led service. So the next decision is in the hands of the Primary Care Trust, who will decide on Thursday 27 May whether or not the service is affordable.

We’ve sent hundreds of emailed messages on, to support them - but keep them coming in to keepthehortongeneral@hotmail.co.uk !

After the PCT, the decision is in the hands of the ORHT.

"SAVE THE HORTON ’ now on Facebook

March 2010

"Save the Horton" has been on Facebook since 2007, but we’ve gained nearly 1000 new members in recent weeks as supporters forwarded our plea for emails (below) to their friends. This is great news for us, as it means we can contact even more people quickly, directly and at no cost.

We use our facebook group to ask supporters for help at key points in the campaign; for example writing emails in support of the Horton before the vital decisions over the coming weeks, and if necessary, to organise public protests such as Hands Around the Horton or the Mayor’s March.

If you want us to keep you informed of developments, please join our facebook group by following this link (you will need to create an account first, if you aren’t already a member, but it’s quite painless)


The plan that would save vital services at the Horton is in danger of being thrown out as “too expensive”. This would leave us back where we were two years ago – with our sick children and mothers in labour facing an unsafe and inhumane trip of 30 miles, 1.5 hours in traffic, to the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford.

The extra cost of maintaining the 24/7 children’s ward and a doctor-led maternity service at the Horton is expected to be around £2m per annum. That’s just 0.22% (less than a quarter of one percent) of Oxfordshire’s annual health budget (£892m p/a).

We think that’s worth spending to keep our children and mothers safe.


We’re asking you to send us an email in support of the Horton’s 24/7 children’s ward and doctor-led maternity service. We’ll pass on all the messages to the Primary Care Trust before they decide whether or not to spend the extra money.

If you’re short on time, a one-liner is better than nothing, but a personalised message is even better.

Please send your email to us at keepthehortongeneral@hotmail.co.uk and copy it to baldryt@parliament.uk

We know that public messages of support make a difference because YOUR MESSAGES OF SUPPORT were key in the IRP’s historic rejection of the original plans.

Please play a part one more time and together we can SAVE THE HORTON!

Putting money before lives?

25 February 2010

- Plan that will save lives could be thrown out for being “too expensive” - Banbury MP calls for everyone to write in support of vital services

Banbury MP and Horton General Hospital campaigner Tony Baldry said it is vital people write to him at baldryt@parliament.uk to stress their determination that a full-scale downgrading of children’s, maternity and A & E services must not happen.

His move comes after Oxfordshire health bosses have suggested to him that the preferred plan to maintain paediatric cover at the Horton may be too expensive.

Hospital campaign leader George Parish promised ‘all hell will be let loose’ if the plan is abandoned.

"Horton General Hospital services are still under threat. I don’t want anyone to be under the illusion the plan is a done deal," Mr Baldry said this week.

"As a community we must make it clear we won’t settle for anything less than continued secure maternity, children’s and A & E services. We can’t sleepwalk through the next few months assuming all is well. The reality is we’re no further forward than a ‘preferred proposal’.

"I am asking all my constituents and others in the Horton catchment area to take five minutes to write to me or email me at the House of Commons to express their clear support for continuation of children’s, maternity and A & E services at the hospital."

Mr Baldry said he understands why people believe services would be safe into the future after Secretary of State Alan Johnson accepted advice from the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) that Oxford is too far to move 24-hour maternity and children’s services.

In early 2008, Mr Johnson asked Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust (PCT) to liaise with the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals Trust (ORH) and the community to find a solution to specialist staffing problems. "That offered the opportunity to find alternative options which has been done after rigorous work over the last couple of years, involving many people attending numerous meetings and much hard work carried out in good faith," said Mr Baldry.

"Everyone was entitled to consider services were safe when at the end of the two years the PCT said their preferred option was a consultant-delivered children’s service enabling the special care baby unit, consultant-led maternity and other services to be protected.

"However what both the PCT and ORH are now saying is they are having to consider whether that proposal is deliverable in terms of whether they can find the doctors and if they can afford it."

Mr Baldry said the PCT is unlikely to have obtained sufficient costings promised for the end of March and before the General Election. And even if the finance is available it would take the ORH many months to recruit specialists, he said.

"In the meantime we’ve got to pray the interim arrangements the ORH has put in place for the Horton will stick, because they were agreed only for two years," he said.

Mr Baldry said the first thing he would do if re-elected will be to ask the Speaker for a parlliamentary debate on the future of the Horton.

George Parish said: "If the plan works out we will have a party for 5,000 in People’s Park. If not there will be 180,000 cheated, angry patients outside the John Radcliffe demanding answers," he said. "We might as well not have had the IRP inquiry if this isn’t made to work. Our fight has gone on since the Task Force in 2003; it seems it has been purposely left until the election. If the 24-hour children’s ward is not saved all hell will break loose and I’ll be at the head of it. Money can’t be the issue. This is about is children’s and young mums’ lives. We expect them to find the money."

Mr Parish said he was aware Oxford paediatriatricians did not want to cover Banbury night and day. "People think they can rule the roost. They should be prepared to rotate; they are meant to be preserving lives not risking them - that is what this is all about. The IRP said downgrading wasn’t right, Alan Johnson said it wasn’t right, Andy Burnham (Secretary of State) wants it sorted out.

"We support Tony Baldry all the way and the Keep the Horton General Campaign is on alert," he said.

Supporters should write to Tony Baldry MP, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA or email him at baldryt@parliament.uk.

Childrens Ward under threat - or not?

29 September 2009

Horton campaigners, attending a Community Partnership Forum meeting on 29 September 2009, were astounded to hear a presentation by a group of JR and Horton paediatric consultants which outlined the downgrading of children’s services once again.

Although it emerged only under questioning, the proposal was for the children’s ward to operate only between 10am and 10pm, with children needing care outside these hours being transferred to the John Radcliffe. Just as in the original proposals, which were soundly rejected by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel in 2008, this would have a knock-on effect on the Special Care Baby Unit and the obstetrics (consultant-led maternity), neither of which can operate without 24 hour paediatrics.

Shocked campaigners met the following day with representatives of the Primary Care Trust. (The PCT essentially hold the purse-strings and decide which services to commission, but it is up to the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals Trust to determine how to actually provide the services) Campaigners were immensely relieved to hear that the PCT will be demanding that a full, 24 hour paediatric and obstetric service is maintained at the Horton General Hospital.

Reconciling the need for these essential services with the difficulty of finding a solution that all stakeholders support is something the Keep the Horton General campaign are fully engaged in. We look forward to the Better Healthcare Programme’s report, which is due to be presented to the Programme Board on 13 October at Bodicote House.

As the process draws to a close, please keep an eye on the website and local press in case we need to call on your support. If you have anything to offer - time or resources - we’d love to hear from you. Please contact us.

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