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

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

What’s going on?
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25th May 2017

Campaign group "Oxfordshire Keep Our NHS Public" is organizing a hustings at 7.30pm in Oxford Town Hall, St Aldate's on Thursday 25th May about the National Health Service.

Their press release states, "We are inviting the Conservative, Green, Labour, Liberal Democrat and National Health Action parties to nominate a representative to make a five-minute presentation and answer questions from the floor about the NHS.

Oxon KONP chair, Dr Ken Williamson, a former GP, will facilitate/chair the meeting. Organisations may submit questions to him in advance at or on the day. Questions from other members of the public will be taken on the day."


11 May 2017

Dr Bruno Holthof, Chief Executive Officer of the Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust (OUHFT), must be wondering what else is going to land on his desk this week.

On Monday we learnt that the Trust has overspent its budget by more than £24 million in the past year. That was described as a 'rapid deterioration'.

Then came the Care Quality Commission (CQC) report from the October 2016 inspection. It concluded that significant further work is needed at the John Radcliffe A&E due to 'long patients waits, overcrowding and staffing issues'.

And on Thursday news of the previous day's OUHFT Board meeting where Members were informed that the number of attendances at A&E had rocketed by nearly an extra 100 people every day, since the figure calculated prior to the winter.

Accompanying an Oxford Mail article on the story, online, a reader commented "The JR is a dreadful place to go to A&E. If you have an accident or emergency try to go to the Horton in Banbury - they are miles better at triage than the JR".

Professor George Smith, the new chairman of Healthwatch Oxfordshire, said: "What we are seeing in the emergency department is a system stretched to the limit".

Keith Strangwood, Chairman of Keep the Horton General, observed "So, whilst the CQC was making its inspection, there were (on average) 700 less people attending the JR A&E every week than there are now. If there was 'overcrowding and long waits' back then, I wonder what on earth they would make of it now?

"All of this information in the same week that the Horton Critical Care Unit is to lose two of its six beds, because of "lack of demand". Late Tuesday morning, the tailback to get into the JR stretched back half a mile.

"When will Dr Holthof and his puzzled managers wake up to the fact that the JR can't cope? People of Oxfordshire need the services of a fully functioning General Hospital in Banbury".


The deadline to respond to the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group's consultation on the future of the Horton General Hospital has now passed. If you wrote to the OCCG - thank you.

Keep the Horton General campaign's response.

In our response, we criticise; the two-stage process, the inappropriate and untimely provision of information, the failure to involve affected groups in the development of plans, the lack of presentation of alternative options implying a "fait accompli", the inadequate time horizon, the lack of will to consider rotation of doctors, the failure to learn from the recommendations of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel less than 10 years ago, the implications for A&E, and the disparity between the claimed travel times and those collected by Victoria Prentis in her recent survey. We refute the OCCG's claim that GPs support the plans, criticise the trust's failure to recruit effectively, remind the OCCG of the lack of consultation with South Central Ambulance Service, and express our doubts about the cost analysis of the OTP.

Finally we call on the OCCG to:

  • Suspend immediately the implementation of phase one of the consultation
  • Engage with the affected population (the whole of Oxfordshire and parts of contiguous counties) in the development of alternative models of health provision to 2031, with corresponding budgets
  • Immediately implement a viable and sustainable staff rota for the whole of the OUHFT including teaching consultants
  • Enter into meaningful discussions with the professional colleges and the accrediting bodies to define a modern, sustainable education scheme across all OUHFT sites
  • Develop a rational protocol for hospital catchment areas to optimise the capital and human resources of all OUHFT establishments
  • Commit to working with all stakeholders to develop, agree and implement a plan that ensures the retention of all the services of a District General Hospital at the Horton General Hospital

You can read Keep the Horton General's full response here.

Widespread condemnation of the OCCG's proposals

The following organisations and individuals have given their permission for their responses to be published. Click on the links to read each response in full.

Oxfordshire County Council

"Cabinet were not supportive of the proposals. Full Council went further and indicated their strong opposition to the proposals and rejected the consultation".

"The rising demand for health services and lack of funding to address this is huge national issue which is being played out locally to the detriment of services for local people."

"Members felt that the consultation does not make clear the impact on social care and there is a lack of modelling to accurately assess this."

"Oxfordshire is experiencing significant housing growth and members felt that there was insufficient planning for this in the proposals."

Read Oxfordshire County Council's full response here

Victoria Prentis, MP

"This consultation is fatally flawed. It does not meet appropriate standards of engagement; it restricts patient choice; the clinical evidence base does not provide accurate statistics; and it does not have the support of local healthcare providers. The people of north Oxfordshire feel that changes are being done 'to them' rather than 'with them'. True consultation involves offering options on which the consultees can comment having seen the evidence they need to make informed choices. This is not the case here."

"Capacity at the John Radcliffe and other hospitals is a serious concern, even before projected population growth is taken into account."

"I remain convinced that the Trust could do more in their search for obstetricians by making job advertisements more appealing, involving recruitment agencies, and addressing the training accreditation issue."

"Local GPs feel that they have not been able to gauge what will be expected of them should any of the Phase One proposals be taken forward. My survey of GPs tells me that they have serious concerns and do not feel that they have been properly consulted."

Read Victoria Prentis' full response here

North Oxfordshire Locality Patient Participation Group Forum

"There is widespread concern at the two-phase Consultation, particularly as the 'Big Conversation' was largely irrelevant or even unnoticed by most members of the public".

"No-one can comprehend why Oxford-based OUH Doctors cannot work on placement rotas in the same way that, for example, Physiotherapists already do. Would this not ameliorate the clinical staffing issues, given that contractually, clinicians are appointed to work for all 4 OUHFT Hospitals, and not for any one specific Hospital?"

"Overall the responses indicate that there was little perception of any clear and easily available evidence having been provided to support the conclusions presented within the Consultation document. The late addition, albeit often difficult to find, of appendices was noted."

Read the North Oxfordshire Locality Patient Participation Group Forum's full response here

Councillor Andrew McHugh, former Horsefair Surgery Practice Manager

" 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 b