KEEP THE HORTON GENERAL
Our hospital provides vital services to Banbury's growing population.
We're about to lose those services.
So what have we done about it?
Local band Caminus join the fight
Banbury rock band Caminus have offered their full support and assistance to the Keep the Horton General campaign. They recently performed at Banbury's Chicago Rock Cafe, flying the Horton's campaign banner.
Caminus' manager Mark Brion said “By promoting the campaign, we are going to try to raise the awareness and get the support of the younger people of Banbury against the proposed closures at the Horton Hospital. I have spoken with George (Parish) on several occasions recently and we have discussed some interesting ideas for the future"
KTHG visit local schools
Keep the Horton General campaigners are visiting local schools informing children of the threats to our hospital and encouraging them to get involved.
Below - campaigners George Parish and Charlotte Bird visit Sibford School, which takes boarding pupils from all over the world including Russia, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Iran, France, Georgia, Taiwan &Korea. These children - and their teachers - will be particularly hard-hit if the downgrading of paediatrics goes ahead, as many of their families live abroad, and it will be difficult for school friends and teachers to visit.
KTHG campaigner's daughter born at the Horton
We are pleased to announce the safe arrival of KTHG campaigner Kate Spencer's daughter Rebecca, born at the Horton Maternity Unit on 5 September 2007.
Speaking from hospital, Kate said "Rebecca was born less than 2 hours after the onset of labour, and just 40 minutes after I left home. Under the Trust's proposals, she would have been born en-route to the JR."
Kate praised the Horton midwives for their care. "They were under incredible pressure that night, with some midwives even working a double shift because the labour ward was so busy. Despite this, their care was second to none.
I had the privelege of speaking to several new mums while in the post natal ward, and they praised the Horton without exception. No-one can understand why the Trust isn't fighting to preserve services at the Horton."
Banbury Mayor calls for nationwide campaign
Banbury's mayor Kieron Mallon has sent out a battle cry to save District General Hospitals nationwide - with the Horton at the centre of the action.
Speaking at a meeting of Cherwell District Council's executive this week, the Banbury Guardian quotes Mr Mallon saying "A number of hospitals are in a similar position to Banbury's. If we could help some of those hospitals to come together to fight these proposals, I'm sure it would carry more weight"
He was supported by scrutiny committee chairman Dr Peter Skolar, who said that, individually, the government could pick off hospitals one by one; and by MP Tony Baldry, who pledged that MPs would get together. "I am sure we will see it taking off in the next few weeks", he said.
Tony has now arranged a 1.5 hour debate at Westminster on the 10th
October 2007, and other Members of Parliament whose constituencies
are similarly affected are expected to take part.
David Cameron visits Horton, and announces a "fight for the future of the NHS"
photo - BBC news
Conservative party leader and Witney MP David Cameron visited the Horton General Hospital on 3rd August, where he promised a "bare knuckle fight" with the government over the future of district hospitals.
Citing 40 maternity units and 90 accident and emergency units that are under threat throughout the country, he said: "The government's new health adviser, Professor Ara Darzi, says that district general hospitals are over. I completely disagree. I promise Gordon Brown that there will be a fight for the future of our NHS."
Mr Cameron met KTHG chairman George Parish, but Banbury MP Tony Baldry was prevented from accompanying the tour by the ORHT. The Trust demonstrated it's capacity to twist words by claiming it had had no contact "whatsoever" with Mr Baldry about the visit. This was true - but only because all negotiations had been carried out through Mr Cameron's office, which was told that the tour could not go ahead if Mr Baldry was present.
Vigil at St Mary's, 25 & 26 July
Following the Scrutiny Committee's decision to refer the Oxford Radcliffe Trust’s proposals for the Horton General Hospital to the Secretary of State, Tony Baldry and KTHG held a 24 hour vigil to coincide with the Trust’s all important decision making meeting on 26 July. Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley also attended to show his support for local General Hospitals.
Over 800 people signed to show that they had visited the church over the 24 hour period, and 50 people including a GP stayed overnight in the church. Councillor Stuart Robbins stayed for the full 24 hours.
“For Andrew Lansley to launch his campaign in Banbury is a massive vote of confidence in all those concerned with retaining services at the Horton General Hospital” commented campaign chairman George Parish. “We have huge commitment as a group and with the tireless support of local MP Tony Baldry we have also achieved national recognition. Our job is not done until we know that the future of the Horton General Hospital is assured.”
Baldry addressed the Horton supporters who congregated at St Mary’s
8pm on Wednesday evening. Tony praised the work of Horton campaigners,
GPs and staff, and said "This vigil is a demonstration that the
people of West and North Oxfordshire, of South Warwickshire and South
Northamptonshire are determined to fight for their NHS; determined
to fight for local NHS services; determined to “Keep the Horton
General” - a General Hospital serving the needs of local people"
"Happy 59th birthday, NHS"
Thursday, 5th July, was the 59th birthday of the NHS. George Parish and other Keep the Horton General Campaigners, including local GP Martin Harris, met Mike Fleming (Director of the Horton) to present him with an A3 sized “birthday card”.
card, designed by Buzz Design, read -
Health Minister visits Banbury on Friday 16th March
around the country on Saturday 3rd March
Marchers assembled at 11.30am in Bonn Square, ready for a midday start. The march finished at around 1pm at Manzil Way (the new East Oxford Health Centre site), where there were speeches and entertainment. Speakers included our own George Parish, and Mark Ladbrooke HSGE member. For more details, contact Helen Groom of Keep our NHS Public (Oxfordshire): firstname.lastname@example.org
For more events around the country, see http://www.nhscampaign.org.uk/home.html , then click on "Day of Action 3rd March 2007" on the menu.
meeting at St Mary's Church, Banbury -
On Thursday 25th January, the Keep the Horton General Campaign held an informal public meeting at St Mary's Church. The original, larger, event had been postponed due to MPs Tony Baldry and Tim Boswell having unavoidable parliamentary commitments. So, we were very pleased that despite the intentional lack of publicity, 50 people braved the cold to ask questions. Leader of Cherwell District Council Mary Harpley, Chairman of CDC Cllr John Harper, Banbury Mayor John Donaldson, Dr Peter Fisher, Cllr Milne-Hume, Cllr Kieron Mallon & Cllr Surinder Dhesi were among the attendees.
were pleased to welcome two representatives from the ORH Trust, Helen
George Parish closed the question and answer session after an hour and a half so people could take up personal issues with Helen Peggs and Andrew Stevens.
A very successful meeting which bodes well for the full meeting we plan to hold later in the year.
conference for NHS Campaigners
Three KTHG committee members attended the NHS Campaigners' National Conference in London on 20th January. This was organised by Keep Our NHS Public ( www.keepournhspublic.com ) to bring all NHS campaigners together to find ways to urgently intensify the pressure on the government to change their approach on the NHS.
Speakers Tony Benn, John Lister, Jacky Davis and Sally Ruane provided an overview of the political situation, summarised what we have learnt so far, and generated support for a TUC-led march, planned for 3rd March. The delegates were also able to join in workshop sessions to develop campaign ideas in smaller groups.
all-party parliamentary protest in London -
We met in the historic 11th century Westminster Hall to hear a succession of inspiring speeches from the organisers and campaign leaders. Patricia Hewitt declined her invitation to attend, but a small delegation was granted a meeting with her at the end of the conference.
Afterwards, we were privileged to meet with the Rt Hon David Cameron, leader of the Conservative party and Witney / Chipping Norton MP, who reiterated his support for our campaign, particularly on behalf of his Chipping Norton constituents. This was a great publicity opportunity, with swarms of journalists descending on us.
We were accompanied for the whole day by ITV Thames Valley, who gave the conference and our campaign 7 minutes of top publicity at the start of their 6 o'clock bulletin.
campaigners also featured on Channel 4's expose of the scandal of the
Private Finance Initiative, which aired on Dispatches, 26 February 2007.
Banbury Balloon Release
On 15th December, we took part in a"day of action" to draw attention to the cuts throughout the country. The events were being organised by local groups like Keep the Horton General, united under the banner of PUSH (People United Saving Hospitals)
Banbury's event saw children from local schools and nurseries, and local dignitaries, release hundreds of "Save the Horton" balloons from the bandstand near the Town Hall at 11.30am.
Sir Ian Carruthers' review
The Secretary of State for Health, Patricia Hewitt, has appointed ex NHS chief executive Sir Ian Carruthers to undertake a 6 month review of the proposals affecting various threatened hospitals. She has advised him that no changes should go ahead without the full backing of local consultants and GPs.
However, Sir Ian's remit only allows him to look at "decided" proposals, which ours is not - and trusts have been told that his review should not delay the implementation of any cuts!
So, while initially hopeful that this appointment might represent a government u-turn, we think it's likely that this is just a ploy to protect the government during the difficult winter season.
Wednesday 1st November - national protest march in London
Members of the Keep The Horton General Committee travelled to Westminster to support a national march in protest at health service cuts. The march was organised by the TUC, Keep Our NHS Public and the National Pensioners' Convention. Campaign leader George Parish addressed the crowd before the march. In excess of 2,000 people marched over Westminster Bridge, past Parliament, before gathering for speeches. Afterwards, we were interviewed by the BBC and met with local MPs Tony Baldry and Tim Boswell to discuss campaign tactics.
The Keep the Horton General Campaign goes to Parliament
On Wednesday 11th October, twenty members of the Keep The Horton General Committee travelled to Westminster to protest on the same day as a key debate on the NHS was held in the Commons.
Banbury MP Tony Baldry greeted us outside the Houses of Parliament in the pouring rain, where we gave interviews with the BBC and Central News. He also arranged for us to watch the debate from the Strangers' Gallery.
We are indebted to Tony for arranging for a small group of us to meet Shadow Health Minister Dr Andrew Murrison. Dr Murrison actually left the debate to talk to us for an hour, coincidentally outside the very room where Secretary of State for Health Patricia Hewitt and other members of the cabinet were attending a reception for the Indian Prime Minister. We discussed the crisis at the Horton and NHS policy and he gave us suggestions for our continued campaign. It was an incredibly valuable experience, not least for the opportunity to wear our campaign T shirts inside the House of Commons, as the cabinet members walked past gaping at us!
Protests in Oxford
On Saturday 14th October, hundred of protesters gathered in Oxford to oppose the 600 job cuts across Oxfordshire and the decimation of services at the Horton General Hospital. Following shortly after thousands protested in Banbury and the Trust was given a "weak" rating for financial management, it is no surprise that ORHT chief executive Trevor Campbell Davies admitted it "has not been an easy period for the trust".
The Mayor's Torchlit March
On Friday 29th September, despite torrential rain, between 3,000 and 4,000 protestors turned out to march for the Horton.
Led by MPs, five mayors, Hook Norton Brass Band, and local headmaster Stephen Wass on a symbolic hobby horse, the mile-long procession brought traffic to a standstill as protestors made their way from the Horton Hospital through the town centre to the People's Park. Drivers caught by the road closure waved and tooted their horns in support as thousands of people marched past, carrying banners, torches and glow-sticks.
(Images - Harry Rhodes, Tudor Photography)
The media was well represented, with the BBC, Central News, radio and local newspapers covering the event. Protestors were met in the park by Fairport Convention's Ric Sanders and celebrated guitarist Vo Fletcher, who entertained the crowds until the speeches commenced.
Local MPs Tony Baldry and Tim Boswell, Banbury mayor John Donaldson and campaigners George Parish and Kate Spencer addressed the crowds as the rain (which had stopped for the duration of the march) started up again.
We can't say enough how much we appreciated your support. We know that when you left your houses, the rain was coming down so hard you couldn't even see the town from the surrounding hills - so thank you.
There were gasps from the crowd as we told the assembled crowd of thousands that the Trust had, to date, only received 150 letters of objection to the proposals. But we're pleased to see hear that at the start of the final week of consultation, 3,000 letters have now been received - so thank you all.
in the People's Park
Public Consultation Meetings
5000 people came to our rally in the park, so we have to ask why just less than 600 made it to St Mary's on Thursday 6th July, and no more than 20 to the equivalent meetings in Brackley, Bicester and Witney. The answer clearly lies in the ORH Trust's deliberately poor advertising, combined with their statement that people would be turned away from the meeting if the church was full, which put many people off turning out after a hard day's work.
The meeting itself did nothing to allay our fears, being less of a consultation than a statement of intent, conducted in an arrogant manner over an appalling sound system. Nonetheless, over the course of 2 hours of questions, members of the public bombarded the board with excellent questions. Unfortunately many of these were sidestepped, and none were answered in a satisfactory manner.
The Trust appears to be relying on a combination of factors; monetary cut backs, safety issues and misinformation. We are certain that money can be found from other areas - the vast spending currently going on in Oxford, for example, the outrageous waste of money that is the Capio Orthapaedic Centre in Banbury, and the proposed helicopter service. The issue of safety is particularly galling, as there are reports setting out options for running a safe, sustainable service in Banbury - but the trust will not include them as options because this does not fit their agenda of closure.
We are also concerned that they cannot provide evidence that they have approached the Royal Colleges for their agreement to the proposals. Incredibly, we were told that they could not be approached until the service was up and running! They are also basing their decisions on statistics that are our of date or just plain wrong - for example, service usage statistics and estimates of population growth.
Despite their earlier assurances that there would be two public meetings in Banbury, the ORH Trust is using the "low" turnout as justification for not holding a second. This will deny many people the chance to question the board, and could have denied us the chance to march. The trust have said that they will only organise another meeting in Banbury is if enough people call or write and ask them for it. You can call the ORH Trust on 01865 228932 or write to Trevor Campbell Davies at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Headley Way, Headington, Oxford, OX3 9DU.