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4th Jul, 2022

Consultation process on plans to downgrade hospital services challenged

Ian Hughes 7th Apr, 2017

COUNCIL chiefs in Stratford have joined a legal challenge over the consultation process regarding plans to downgrade key services at Banbury’s Horton General.

A number of residents in Stratford district use the hospital, and Stratford District Council has joined with Cherwell District Council, South Northamptonshire Council and Banbury Town Council to fight the proposals. Cherwell District Council has filed an application for a judicial review into how Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group has consulted with the public over changes to services including maternity, critical care and hospital bed use.

David Buckland, executive director at Stratford District Council said: “Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group is in the process of carrying out a two stage consultation process, which includes significant changes to services currently undertaken at the Horton General Hospital.

“A large number of our residents currently use these services and due to the confusion of the consultation exercise it is unclear how they will be affected. We have therefore joined Cherwell District Council, South Northamptonshire Council and Banbury Town Council with this Judicial Review into what we believe to be a flawed consultation process.

“In addition we have agreed to write directly to the Department of Health complaining about the process and requesting that the proposals are withdrawn.

“The council is also in close contact with the South Warwickshire Clinical Commissioning Group and the South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust to ensure that there are alternative arrangements in place for our residents if these changes are implemented.”

The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) is consulting on five key proposals which include taking all of the most serious critical care patients and all stroke cases directly to Oxford.

The consultation also proposes changing the way hospital beds are used and permanently closing almost 200 beds between the Horton and Oxford Hospitals.

A key aspect of the changes would involve changes to the maternity unit and replacing a consultant-led service with only midwives. This would mean there would be no doctors or opportunity for epidural relief which means 90 per cent of mothers will have to travel to Oxford or other hospitals.

The only proposal which would increase availability at the Horton would relate to planned care services – procedures and treatments not carried out in an emergency but planned in advance, such as outpatient appointments, elective surgery and diagnostic activities.

Having now submitted the judicial review, Cherwell is waiting to hear if the case will proceed to the High Court for consideration. A decision is expected next month.

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