protests at parliament and People's Park


Consultant-led Maternity, SCBU, 24/7 Children's Ward, A&E, orthopaedics and Critical Care Unit under threat

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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

" 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 .

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



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

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 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,


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 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 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

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

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


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 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

This article is based on an article and interview with the Banbury Guardian, 11 January 2017:


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 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 or you can request an electronic version of the form by emailing a request to

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 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 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 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 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

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 and you can find us on Facebook at 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"



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



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 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 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 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 and independent chair Rev. Philip Cochrane

  • 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

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

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! 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:

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

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


Email addresses for reference:

Victoria Prentis:
Andrea Leadsom -
Nadhim Zahawi -
Jeremy Wright -
David Cameron -
John Bercow -
Keep The Horton General -


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, 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


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:
- 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:

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

Write to the Banbury Guardian -

(Banbury Guardian emails now go to a central department covering 6 to 8 papers - copy Roseanne Edwards on 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 - 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

Health reporter Roseanne Edwards has requested that she be copied in:

We also recommend that you contact your MP, Victoria Prentis ( via or Andrea Leadsom ( 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


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:
  • Email:
  • 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


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

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 ("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:
  • Answer our online survey:
  • Participate in our discussion forum:
  • 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

(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 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," 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 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:


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 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 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 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

(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 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 £160m savings over four years as part of the government’s drive to slash £20bn from the NHS budget. OUH Chief Executive Sir Jonathan Michael said that £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 – 9.30pm. Entry will cost £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

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 !

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 and copy it to

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 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

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.