Cookie Consent by Popupsmart Website

Connecting to LinkedIn...

4 Nurses (1)

News & Social Media

United as one: Campaigners and politicians stand together to stop major healthcare plans

Posted on 8/08/2017 by

Oxford Council

‘FRIGHTENED’ campaigners, the clergy and politicians came together with one voice to stop controversial healthcare plans from putting patients’ lives at risk.

United in their fears over the impact of an impending decision over the NHS in Oxfordshire, speakers urged members of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) yesterday to step in and act.

Almost 20 people including Witney MP Robert Courts and the Bishop of Dorchester Colin Fletcher raised fears over phase one of Oxfordshire’s Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP), which includes the permanent downgrading of the maternity services at the Horton General Hospital in Banbury.

It would also see the closure of 146 acute beds and the reduction in the critical care level at the Horton.

Banbury MP Victoria Prentis, who has defended the need to reverse the temporary downgrade and closure of obstetric services at the Horton, said she and her 90,000 constituents spoke as one.

She added: “We are anxious about the future of our hospital, we are frightened about the current safety of mothers and babies and we are angry about the process.

“We have been fighting to save the Horton for as long as I can remember. It is important, it provides a third of Oxfordshire’s A&E services, it is important to everybody

“There is a domino effect on services, when we lose one others follow.”

Ms Prentis also raised concerns of the long journeys expectant mothers and their partners faced as they are forced to travel to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford instead of the Horton if they are high risk or need an epidural.

Among the speakers at county hall was Witney MP Robert Courts, who said he was ‘disturbed’ by the consultation process held by Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) over the plans.

He said: “It is lives we are talking about, it is the safety of mothers and children and that is what we risk if the proposals go ahead in the form it is suggested.

“This is a rural area that needs services that are close and are easy to access.

“These proposals are unsafe, they are ill-thought through, the procedure is flawed and I would ask that they be independently reviewed.”

The meeting took an emotional turn when Keep the Horton General (KTHG) campaigner Val Ingram described an Oxfordshire family’s harrowing experiences of the temporary downgraded and midwife-led maternity services at the Horton.

Tears ran down the cheeks of HOSC member and Cherwell District Councillor Andrew McHugh as Ms Ingram told how an expecting mother suddenly began to lose a lot of blood, one month before the baby was full term.

With no doctors or specialist care facilities, she and her family had to make a 20-mile journey to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

She said: “When her husband eventually found her, in his words he describes the scene as traumatic.

“The love of his life had lost so much blood that he thought she was going to die.

“She was given three blood transfusions and was at this time desperately ill.

“The little baby girl was born, perfectly formed but tragically dead. Their 11-year-old daughter had witnessed this harrowing scene and will no doubt be scared for the rest of her life by what she saw.”

All is not lost for campaigners, with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt still able to step in and stop the permanent downgrade of maternity services.

HOSC members decided yesterday to refer the matter to Mr Hunt should the CCG decide to go ahead with the proposals at its decision-making meeting on Thursday.

But campaigners from KTHG and Keep Our NHS Public said HOSC’s decision was a ‘watered-down threat’ that neglected to address a catalogue of serious issues.

Chairman of KTHG Keith Strangwood said: “I am disappointed.

“It is a watered-down threat, what they should have done is referred the whole of the Oxfordshire Transformation Plan to the secretary of state and Independent Reconfiguration Panel.”

Speaking after the meeting, HOSC chairman and Oxfordshire County Councillor Arash Fatemian said: “I think today has been the day when everyone; politicians from all parties from all councils, members of the clergy, retired GPs, members of the public, everybody has come together as one voice to say we oppose these proposals.”

HOSC also agreed to support the critical care downgrading at the Horton, the centralisation of acute and stroke services and the closure of 110 beds but refused to support further closures.

The CCG will make their final decision on the first phase proposals at a 9.30am meeting on Thursday at the Oxford Examination Schools in High Street.

Source: OxfordTimes