Maternity services at the Horton under threat

Robert said, "This has been a very important week for health in West Oxfordshire.  Earlier this week, I spoke at the Council’s Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) meeting to discuss Oxfordshire Health bosses’ proposals for changes of services at the Horton General.

"I was pleased that the Committee ruled that if the Clinical Commission Group’s (CCG) board passed the proposals, it will refer the issue of maternity services to the Secretary of State for Health.  I am pleased that the Committee appreciate that these plans have been rushed and do not have an adequate evidence base to be passed.

"The CCG have proposed that the downgrade of maternity services from the Horton General in Banbury will become permanent.  This will mean that the only obstetric unit in Oxfordshire will be at the already over-stretched John Radcliffe in Oxford.  Banbury will have a Midwife-Led Unit (MLU) which will provide the same maternity services as Chipping Norton Community Hospital.  MLUs are a valuable resource for low-risk births, but having adequate obstetric care is essential to ensure the safety of mothers and babies.

"The impact of this assessment goes far beyond just Banbury, but across the entirety of Oxfordshire.  I share concerns held by many in West Oxfordshire that this is the thin end of the wedge.  A downgrade of services at the Horton seriously threatens the future of maternity services at Chipping Norton.  An MLU at the Horton will undoubtedly lead to a decrease in use at Chippy.

"These plans are all very well until something goes wrong and mothers have to travel during labour from Banbury to the JR, risking the health of both mothers and babies.  These proposals are unsafe, they are poorly thought through, the procedure is flawed.

"I then attended and spoke at the CCG’s meeting on Thursday to urge them to reconsider this proposal.  I am very disappointed that they passed the proposals as laid out.  I am however pleased that, due to HOSC’s meeting, the CCG’s decision will now be referred to Jeremy Hunt, and I shall do all I can to ensure that he is fully aware of my concerns, as well as those of my constituents and the local authority.

"HOSC has already referred the temporary closure of obstetrics at the Horton in 2016 to the Secretary of State, and in 2008 the proposed downgrade of maternity services at the Horton was independently reviewed and overturned.  We have a very strong case for this decision to be changed, and I will keep you all updated as soon as I learn anything further."