KEEP THE HORTON GENERAL
THIS IS A HISTORICAL ARCHIVE OF OUR SUCCESSFUL 2008 CAMPAIGN.
If you are looking for the current threat, please click here for the current home page
Archive continues from this point
WE'VE DONE IT!
VICTORY FOR BANBURY!
All of Banbury is celebrating today, as the ORHT's unsafe and inhumane proposals have been rejected at the highest level. In an amazing victory of common sense over bureaucracy, the Secretary of State has followed the IRP's recommendations and thrown out the hugely unpopular proposals.
Campaigners celebrated the news with an impromptu victory march through the town and up to the Horton, meeting delighted staff on the maternity and paediatric wards.
Campaign chairman George Parish, elated by the news, said "We desperately need safe children's and maternity services in Banbury. We're just over the moon that we've still got them. We can't thank everyone enough for all the effort they've put in to save our services. Lives WILL be saved as a result of this decision!"
The IRP's report included 6 recommendations which the ORHT must follow. While they accept that services will have to change at the Horton, the IRP clearly stated:
IRP does not support the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals (ORH) NHS Trust’s
"The Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust (PCT) should carry out further work with the ORH NHS Trust to set out the arrangements and investment necessary to retain and develop services at the Horton Hospital. Patients, the public and other stakeholders should be fully involved in this work"
We'd like to say THANK YOU to the members of the IRP, who have taken the time to really listen to the people of Banbury, understand our situation and, we believe, reached the right decision.
Where do we go from here?
Basically, the IRP have told us the result they expect to see - the retention of paediatric services, obstetric services and SCBU - and are leaving it up to the PCT, ORHT, and stakeholders to determine the right way to do that.
We're looking forward to playing a full part in that process.
TO EVERYONE WHO'S HELPED US WIN THIS FIGHT
numerous to name at this time; but particularly to our long-suffering
- from everyone on the Keep the Horton General Committee
Visit the excellent Banbury Guardian website for coverage of the events of 20 March 2008 - video of our victory march, and the ORHT's Trevor Campbell Davies' reaction; and comments from the major players in the fight to retain our essential services.
We have recently become aware of a key document that should have been provided to all the stakeholders, a Transport Briefing Paper. Amongst a lot of new information, it reveals that 1,800 children per year are expected to need ambulance transfer to the JR, rather than the ORHT's previously stated figure of "just" 700. Some areas of the site will still reflect the old figures as we are pushed for time finalising and presenting information to the IRP.
Our report to the IRP
report to Lord Darzi review on the future of the NHS
Ambulance Transfer times
Recent statistics, obtained by KTHG from the South Central Ambulance Trust, have revealed just 6 out of 417 ambulance transfers in the last 18 months reached the JR in less than 40 minutes. Forty minutes is how long the ORHT told the public a transfer would take - until we proved them wrong with our recent Ambulance Trip (below)
shocking figures show that from June 2005 to November 2007 there
were 417 transfers, 321 of which were 'urgent' and 96 'emergencies'
Unlike the ORHT, who based their risk assessment on just "bed to bed" times, the Ambulance Trust figures are all-encompassing. They start the clock at the moment the ambulance is called, continuing through how long it takes the ambulance to arrive at the Horton, how long it takes to load the patient for the trip, and the journey itself, only stopping the clock when the patient arrives at the JR.
NEWS & EVENTS
There's so much happening - please see the links below to make sure you don't miss any important recent developments!
Can you REALLY get from Banbury to Oxford in 25 minutes?
photo - Will Johnston
We left the Horton at 8.25am on a Thursday morning in term time. Traffic was light, as commuters have to leave well before this time to arrive at their desks by 9am. The weather was fine and clear. The only traffic queue was the almost permanent one from the Marston Flyover to the JR. In short - as good driving conditions as you could hope to get on this route.
It took us 1 hour and 5 minutes to get to the JR.
Even if we had been allowed to use the blue lights, our experienced ambulance driver told us that the fastest he could have got us there was 35 to 40 minutes. In fact it would take even longer as the patient would have to be prepared for transport and wait for an ambulance to become available at this end, and later be received at the JR.
To put this in context -
What really brought it home to me was comparing the progress of our trip with my own labour 2 months ago. Born just 40 minutes after labour was established, my daughter would have been delivered just past Sainsbury's in Kidlington, by my husband, without even gas and air to help me through.
Medical and public opinion is united - it is essential to retain consultant-led maternity and 24/7 paediatric services in Banbury. Only the ORHT think otherwise. Now we must convince the IRP.
Please, please take 10 minutes to write to the IRP right now.
They are our last chance.
In an open letter to the people in the Horton's catchment area, IRP chairman Dr Peter Barrett has called for anyone with new information, or who feels that their voice has not been heard, to speak out. Read Dr Barrett's letter here.
36 - the number of days between June and mid November 2007 that GPs were asked to divert all Acute cases to the Horton - because the JR couldn't take them.
- the number of times, between January and October 2007, the Horton's
children's ward admitted children from the JR, because the JR was full.
34% - the projected increase in the population of the Cherwell Area in the next 15 years (CDC) Indeed, several GP practices in Banbury are closing their books because they cannot cope with the influx of new patients.
20 - the number of miles the Health Secretary was heard saying was "too far" for a pregnant woman to travel to get the help she needs
23.2 - the number of miles from the Horton to the JR
900 - the number of "Horton" women, per year, who would be booked to deliver in Oxford under the proposals (ORHT to Banbury Town Council)
160 - the number of high risk, mid-labour transfers predicted by the ORHT every yea r (ORHT consultation document)
700 - the number of children needing urgent transfer from Banbury to
the JR, every year (ORHT consultation document)
Children's nurses at the Horton have given the IRP a catalogue of concerns over patient safety if downgrading goes ahead. Staff on the ward – which the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals Trust wants to replace with a daytime clinic – say children and babies will be at risk and families will suffer if plans are approved. The delegation from the IRP visited the Horton last Thursday (8 November 07).
The nurses handed the delegation a four-page document offering evidence against the changes, admitting that staff had been reluctant to speak out for fear of reprisals from the Trust.
"This is our last chance to prevent reorganisation we believe will be detrimental to the health care of children in this area," they said in their letter.
They also cast doubt on the ability of A&E to cope with emergencies involving children. And they stressed the new Oxford Children's Hospital was suffering such a recruitment crisis, the fully-staffed Horton has more acute general paediatric beds open than Oxford.
In their letter, they say:
- Newborn babies will be at risk
- Overstretched ambulance services will be unable to transfer sick children to Oxford quickly enough
- The proposals are not costed adequately and with a 'weak' financial rating for use of resources, the trust cannot guarantee to fund its own plan
- The John Radcliffe is too stretched to manage extra patients. The Horton – including the children's ward – has been 'on divert' for the John Radcliffe for nearly a quarter of this year, taking overflow patients destined for Oxford.
The Horton also takes cases from Milton Keynes and Stoke Mandeville. These safety nets would disappear if downgrading takes place.
The nurses cast doubt on proposed paediatric cover in A&E after downgrading and said breaches of maximum waiting times would inevitably occur as children waited for transfer to Oxford. Sick children, currently offered 'open access' to the paediatric ward, would have to be admitted to Oxford as a precaution.
"There will be children who will be admitted to Oxford when a period of observation or a discharge with open access would have been sufficient," the nurses said."This will be putting further pressure on beds... and, we believe, will put up the admission rate by about 50 per cent."
They say the plan's reliance on community nurses – tending children at home to reduce admissions – is flawed with geographical gaps in provision and no recruitment proposals.
health service must be organised for the benefit of patients not staff...
We do not forget 24-hour paediatrics was introduced following the unnecessary
death of a child. What has changed? We are not convinced a reduction
in service costing more to run is safe, fair or logical. In April 2008
the Government are introducing choice for patients.
"If this decision is taken it cannot be reversed.Our area is growing rapidly and its health services should be developing, not declining to meet future needs."
Secretary Alan Johnson - who will take the final decision on whether
maternity and children's acute services will be ended in Banbury - went
on radio last week to say 20 miles was 'a bit far' for women to travel
to give birth.
KTHG campaigners will have a market stall for the switching on of Banbury's Christmas lights on Sunday 25 November. Please come and have a chat to us between 12 and 5pm - there's nothing we like more than spreading the word.
KTHG campaigners joined about 7,000 people in the 'I love the NHS' march in central London on 3 November 2007. As the NHS nears its 60th birthday, the marchers aimed to publicly celebrate its successes, show how much it means to so many people, and protest against privatisation and closures.
Union chief Karen Jennings told the colourful crowd that a health service that is free at the point of need and paid for by taxation should be cherished. London mayor Ken Livingstone sent a message to the demonstrators by video, saying the NHS was the "single most important social advance of my lifetime".
A "Save the Horton" group set up on social networking website Facebook by supporter Liz Allcroft has signed up a staggering 800 + members in the first 24 hours. Membership now exceeds 2,400 and continues to grow. Campaign leader George Parish congratulated Liz on succesfully reaching out to the younger people of Banbury.
"Liz took the initiative and created this group because she is a passionate Horton supporter. We're really pleased to have her on board", he said. "The younger people of Banbury are proving that they really care about our hospital. We hope that they all take a few minutes to email the IRP and tell them how much the Horton matters to them - their support could make all the difference"
(You need to join Facebook to view the site)
Tony Baldry highlighted the threat to the Horton in his commons debate on the future of district general hospitals, on Wednesday 10th October 2007. Mr Baldry and fellow MPs attacked the only minister who attended - junior health minister Ann Keen - explaining in detail the reasons why district general hospitals must not be stripped of vital and basic services.
The debate was attended by MPs from across England as well as a delegation of Keep the Horton General campaigners.
After the meeting Mr Baldry said: "I was greatly encouraged that 13 MPs from Cornwall to Lancashire turned out to support this debate. It was extremely disappointing that the junior health minister Ann Keen didn't feel able to respond to a single point that I or any other MP put. Such indifference indicates a combination of arrogance and contemptuousness on the part of ministers."
Campaign leader George Parish, who is also a Labour councillor on Banbury town and Cherwell district councils, said: "Ann Keen was the only Labour MP there and she was bombarded with a vast catalogue of damning facts and figures.
"I am incredulous that my own party can be so blind to what is happening at grass roots level. She made no effort to assuage the immense anxiety expressed by MPs on behalf of their constituents.
"For her to tell us 'sometimes we have to encourage our peer group to accept change' is as helpful as Marie Antoinette telling the poor to eat cake."
by top medics for a halt to the drain of children's surgery from district
hospitals (DGHs) to regional centres have been welcomed by Horton campaigners.
He said emergency surgery for children at the Horton would be endangered and day cases that developed complications would mean uncomfortable transfers to Oxford if Banbury's 24-hour paediatric ward is lost. "Although planned surgery other than day case is mainly done in Oxford, emergency surgery is carried out for children of three years and over at the Horton," he said. "This includes emergencies like appendicitis and strangulated hernias and trauma cases such as fractures requiring operations under anaesthetic.
"The Keep the Horton General Campaign (KTHG) is delighted the CSF 'opposes the wholesale shift of paediatric surgery to tertiary centres'," said Dr Fisher.
The CSF report calls for the downward trend of paediatric surgery at district general hospitals to be 'halted and reversed' and provision of sufficient workforce to ensure service needs. And it says health reforms must not jeopardise the provision of safe, local care for children, care must not be subject to 'market forces' and it 'feels strongly that national action is required to secure safe services locally'.
Dr Fisher said: "This supports what the KTHG has said – the trust has not protested with sufficient vigour against such policies, preferring to cite them as enforcing the chosen strategy"
The ORH confirmed that without a 24-hour in-patient service at the Horton children's surgery requiring overnight care will not be done in Banbury. Of 84 emergency procedures done at the Horton last year the majority would have been transferred to Oxford under the current downgrading proposals.
Thanks to the Banbury Guardian for allowing me to plagiarise of the text of their article, above. This is due to shortness of time, following the safe delivery of my daughter at the Horton on 5 September. Thanks to all the midwives - you were great!
The Banbury branch of the Royal College of Midwives has written an open letter to the Banbury Guardian to confirm their position that the current service is the best option for women, their babies and families.
a meeting on September 13 with our Royal College of Midwives (RCM) regional
representative, the Banbury Branch of the RCM writes to confirm its
position with regard to the proposed changes to services at the Horton
Midwife-led births are the aim of all midwives, but the branch is aware that even with careful screening, it isn't always possible to predict problems.
branch notes an article of August 30 which quotes comments made by the
clinical working group that the proposals were the "safest option."
Horton supporters are celebrating following the unanimous decision by the influential Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee to refer the controversial Horton proposals to the Secretary of State for Health.
The Scrutiny Committee held a day-long meeting on Thursday 12th July to review the evidence presented by both sides of the debate.
Speakers for the Horton included staff representatives, local GPs, Tony Baldry MP, local authority figures and of course our own George Parish and Peter Fisher. Two midwives from the Horton made a moving representation to the Committee, quoting facts and figures for last month at the Horton Maternity Unit – the busiest month on record.
Speakers for the Trust included Board members, members of the Working Groups that reviewed obstetric and paediatric services, and the Postgraduate Dean (whose dismissal of any alternative staffing solutions destroyed every attempt by the working groups to retain services in Banbury)
Concerns over the proposed Ambulatory service, which is a key component of he Trust’s proposals, and the question of the European Working Directive and Modernising Medical Careers strategies taking precedence over patient care, undoubtedly concerned the Committee.
We owe a big thank you to our local GPs, who stuck to their principles despite attempts by the Trust to wear them down. They came out strongly against the proposals for the second time - with 59 voting against the proposals, just 3 for the proposals and 5 abstentions.
Campaign chairman, George Parish, applauded the Scrutiny Committee for their measured approach to the hearing and praised the commitment shown by all of those who spoke on behalf of the Horton General Hospital. “This is a significant step for our campaign” said George as he left the meeting, elated by the decision. "We have won this battle - but we are still fighting the war."
"District General Hospitals like the Horton are being systematically downgraded all across the country." added campaigner Peter Fisher. "This is because the mutually incompatible European Working Time Directive and the reduced training period for hospital doctors are being implemented at the same time. We have to raise this at the highest levels of government. It is not acceptable for service provision to be led by training requirements - the needs of the patient must come first"
It was no surprise to campaigners that, when the ORH Trust met on 26th July, they voted to accept the recommendations of the working groups. It is somewhat ironic that the Trust made the decision to go ahead with the downgrading on a day the John Radcliffe was referring patients to the Horton because of a lack of capacity at the JR - which happens about once every two weeks.
The proposals will now be referred to the Secretary of State for Health, who has already indicated that he will pass all such cases to the Independent Review Panel.
Research by KTHG has uncovered that one of the members of the working groups, Dr Nick Naftalin, is also a member of the IRP; so we are calling for him to be excluded from any future review.
Gordon Brown and new Health Secretary Alan Johnson may be seeking to distance themselves from their predecessors by instigating a review of the "top down reforms" that have been causing so much damage to the NHS in recent years. We can only hope that this signals a change of policy, and that any change does not come too late for the Horton.
Local Dad Tom Knight of "The Ride" magazine has created a petition on the Prime Minister's website under the heading "We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to prevent the closure / downgrading of Horton Hospital, Banbury, Oxfordshire"
The petition continues, "Horton Hospital, Oxfordshire, is under threat of closure or substantial downgrading. Whilst most would recognise the need for better efficiency and management within the NHS, the closure of Horton Hospital would present severe practical obstacles to patients - especially pregnant women and children - in need of emergency care. Simply put, the transfer of essential medical services to Oxford will put Banburians at risk. We petition the Government to intervene and prevent this potentially disastrous action."
We urge you to add your support to his petition by following the link and signing up:
Stakeholder Group's report published
After many months of meetings, reviewing and questioning reams of complicated evidence, the stakeholder group has published its response to the working groups' recommendations. We are very pleased with the conclusion that "a majority of the group remains against the proposals on the basis that the Trust has not done all that it can to look at alternative ways of sustaining the current pattern of services at the Horton" and "the proposals that the clinical working groups have put forward may be a ‘least worst’ scenario but they represent a significant downgrading of access to services and a worsening of choice for women and children in the Banbury area."
Background - after the consultation ended, the ORH Trust set up two working parties. The working groups were asked to review obstetric and paediatric services at the Horton in detail, and make recommendations to the Trust. The Trust also set up a Stakeholder Panel, including (amongst others) representatives from the Keep the Horton General Campaign, Cherwell District Council, Banbury Town Council, and the Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust. The stakeholder panel’s job is to comment on the working groups’ recommendations, and make their own suggestions. However, it is the ORH Trust who will make the final decision.
Trust throws review process into confusion
A surprise meeting called by the ORH Trust on Monday 4 June threw the review process into confusion, as proposals were published ahead of time and before stakeholders had a chance to comment.
is a “new” set of draft proposals on the table.
Behind the scenes……
Outwardly, the campaign has gone quiet for a few months while the
decision makers retreated behind closed doors to review the proposals.
Here’s what’s been going on.
• The working groups were asked to review obstetric and paediatric services at the Horton in detail, and make recommendations to the Trust.
• The Trust also set up a Stakeholder Panel, including (amongst others) representatives from the Keep the Horton General Campaign, Cherwell District Council, Banbury Town Council, and the Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust.
• The stakeholder panel’s job is to comment on the working groups’ recommendations, and make their own suggestions. However, it is the ORH Trust who will make the final decision.
• The working groups reviewed the evidence and prepared their draft reports, which they presented to the stakeholder panel.
• The stakeholder group debated the new proposals and crafted a comprehensive response (read the stakeholders response here).
• The Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee heard the evidence from both sides in a day-long session, and voted unanimously to refer the proposals to the Secretary of State for Health.
• Next, the Trust will review the working groups’ recommendations and the stakeholders response, and reach a decision.
• Then what? Well, that depends on whether the Trust’s new plan is acceptable. The changes could go ahead – or the Trust could have another fight on its hands. Keep watching the local press and this website.
OUR RESPONSE to the original proposals
You will not be surprised to learn that we believe the proposals will have a significant detrimental effect on the services provided to the people of North Oxfordshire and surrounding areas.
In our response, we discuss a multitude of objections to the proposals. We call on the Trust to significantly extend the consultation period to allow time for proper consideration of alternative solutions which would maintain full services at the Horton General Hospital.
We reject the Trust’s proposals in their current form, but would welcome the chance to work with them openly and honestly to find a solution that provides a safe, sustainable service for the people of the Banbury area.
Massive support from the influential Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee
OJHOSC's response is of huge importance, as it is the only group with
the authority to refer the proposals for scrutiny by an independent
Trust's proposals have now been condemned by all the local stakeholders
in the consultation process.
You can read all the responses here.
you can help with the campaign or have any suggestions,