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?
What we’re doing about it
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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."


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


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."


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.


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!

Check out some of our favourite images from the day, below.

Campaign bus


Spiceball Park, Sunday 25 Sept, 12.00 - 4.30pm

Our next event! Building on the amazing community spirit seen at our recent protests, we're helping to organise a traditional Autumn Fete and Teddy Bears' Picnic to raise awareness and campaigning funds. The original idea came from Emma Gold and Siemon Edgington, and the idea grew as members of the Save Our Horton facebook group brought more and more ideas and offers of help.

So bring your picnic and teddy bears along as we celebrate our Horton babies of all ages!

Attractions include pony rides, bouncy castle, fire engine courtesy of Oxfordshire Fire & Rescue, Hook Norton Brewery's beer tent, Banbury's first Flash Dance, penalty football, bowling, teas, cakes, books stall, bric-a-brac, bubbles, guess the name of the teddy, lucky dips, and hot food including pizza and burgers. The event will be opened by Victoria Prentis MP

On a more serious note, we will be starting a memory tree in remembrance of our Horton babies who tragically didn't make it.

So come along, join in, and help us send a clear message back to Oxford that our support is growing stronger every day to resist these plans which affect each and every one of us.

Click here to download the poster.

teddy bears picnic poster 25 september 2016


Trust reps get a 'very sharp rebuke' from Chair

Oxfordshire's influential Health and Overview Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) met at County Hall, Oxford, on Thursday 15 September. Responsible for overseeing safe and adequate health provision for all Oxfordshire residents, HOSC members discussed the Horton General hospital in Banbury at length.

Prior to Item 8 - "Obstetrics and the Strategic Review (The Horton Hospital)" - Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust (OUHFT) representatives, Paul Brennan and Andrew Stevens, received a 'very sharp rebuke' from Chairperson Yvonne Constance, due to the Trust's removal of beds from Oak Ward and F ward at the Horton, with no prior warning. Members of staff were only aware after the event confirming there had been no consultation or communication beforehand.

For Keep the Horton General (KTHG) attendees, item 8 was of significant importance. KTHG Chairman Keith Strangwood was allowed three minutes to make his representation, along with a statement by local MP Victoria Prentis read by her assistant and Cherwell District Council's position given by Councillor Lawrie Stratford.

It appeared that Yvonne Constance was close to referring the matter to the Secretary of State for Health but stayed her judgement until 30th September. At a meeting on that date, previously arranged to discuss the implications of the Five Year Sustainability Plan (STP), the OUHFT will have to credibly justify its claim that they have secured reasonable safe provision for the transfer of mothers, in need of emergency care during labour, to Oxford.

The Chairperson 'ridiculed the proposal for a 24/7 standby ambulance and emphasised that she wanted to see the risk assessment in terms of travel time to all alternative hospitals other than the John Radcliffe'.

"We look forward to the meeting on the 30th," concluded Keith Strangwood.


Efforts to recruit doctors for the Horton's maternity department have been "shambolic" and need to be investigated by the Care Quality Commission, a campaigner says.

Sophie Bidwell said Oxford University Hospitals Trust (OUH) appeared unable to undertake 'basic tasks' such as advertising, even after an emergency meeting of the Trust Board had been promised it had made strenuous efforts to recruit and would continue to do so.

Mrs Bidwell, of Banbury, whose life was saved by Horton consultants when she suffered a major haemorrhage while giving birth last year, has been a vocal opponent of the OUH's plan to replace consultant-led obstetrics with a midwife-only unit from October 2. The move would mean a 25-mile dash to the JR, Oxford for any mother developing life-threatening complications during delivery.

The OUH says it has advertised but failed to appoint essential middle grade doctors and has no alternative to moving births to Oxford for reasons of safety. It says the move is temporary and the full service would be reinstated when posts have been filled.

Mrs Bidwell wrote to clinical director Paul Brennan last week complaining there was no trace of any advertisements in the British Medical Journal or NHS Jobs websites.

"I would like to know why advertising has ceased? If there are still vacancies, I am sure those on the board who questioned the effort being put into recruitment during last week's meeting will be particularly interested to know why there are no adverts for these posts on two of the most relevant job websites for medical professions.

"Scarcely a week has passed since the decision to temporarily downgrade the Horton's maternity unit and close Special Care Baby Unit. At the meeting you said you would not stop trying to (recruit), indeed you would redouble your efforts. If the posts are still vacant I'm afraid it will appear to the general public, once again, as though the Trust is saying one thing and doing quite another."

Mr Brennan's one-line reply said the Trust would respond to all stakeholders rather than responding to individual requests.

Mrs Bidwell replied: "This shambolic, meagre effort to recruit is wholly unacceptable and I hope sincerely this is investigated by the Care Quality Commission as well as the national media. An independent consultant needs to be brought in to oversee recruitment of doctors, since you appear unable to undertake such basic tasks as actually advertising the posts.

"I do not believe it is unreasonable for the Trust to be asked to provide weekly public updates concerning the number of adverts and locations of these, in addition to the number of interviews and job offers, if it has nothing to hide," she wrote.

"The only way the Trust is going to salvage any goodwill from Banbury is by being transparent and following up its claimed commitment to retaining obstetrics at the Horton, with the necessary action to do so."

The Trust's efforts to recruit were previously criticised by Banbury MP Victoria Prentis, who said: "I firmly believe the Trust could have done more to recruit enough consultants. I really hope this decision is short term and the recruitment process will continue so that a full service can resume as soon as possible."

Article originally published in the Banbury Guardian, 16 September 2016.


Medics in Banbury have come up with an innovative 'third option' to save the future of Banbury maternity services. The maternity hospital is due to be downgraded to a midwife-only unit starting on October 3. Midwives believe the remaining Horton service would survive only a few months.

Experts have drawn up a business case for a new idea to keep the maternity unit active while offering dedicated training to Oxford staff. In the plan, the John Radcliffe Hospital would send its routine, planned Caesarean section births to be carried out in Banbury's fully kitted-out delivery suite theatres. Having the operations done here would:

  • enable the post natal ward and Special Care Baby Unit to be maintained
  • help protect the future of the children's ward
  • ease anticipated pressure on JR staff and obstetric and gynaecology facilities and
  • prevent unnecessary expense hiring a portable operating theatre at the JR to house gynaecology ops to make way for planned Caesareans.

The experts have cited parts of an OUHFT contingengy plan that admit to a worrying logjam of births at Oxford. The infrastructure is already in place in Banbury and, importantly, allowing the Horton to be kept in use would:

  • prevent inevitable resignations of midwives and SCBU staff being forced to transfer their work to Oxford and
  • facilitate the smooth return to full consultant-led maternity as soon as sufficient doctors have been recruited; a move the trust has assured the Board it wishes to make.

The business case says the OUHFT contingency plan describes a 'major challenge facing OUHFT' being 'emergency theatre time, post-operative recovery beds, anaesthetists and theatre staff'. The experts' plan claims to eradicate concerns over staffing, availability of beds, weekend gynaecology operating lists and delivery theatre suite availability at the JR. The 'third option' suggests the Horton maternity unit would undertake up to four Caesarean section operations per day, seven days a week, potentially 28 a week, easing pressure at the JR immensely. One of the experts said: "Staff at the JR have already expressed concerns to management about staffing levels, sickness levels and infrastructure for the present birth rate at the JR, before the predicted 19 extra births per week from October 3."

Because of the comprehensive nature of the Horton unit, all midwives are already fully trained in all aspects of delivery, including theatre nursing, all categories of Caesareans, post operative and post natal care, so no extra staff or training would be necessary. The Care Quality Commission scored Banbury over the JR for patient satisfaction and the experts believe patient experience would also be maintained by this third option.

"This third option will complement the midwife-only unit, save the trust money, utilize and maintain current systems of operation and ensure swift and smooth reopening of the full Horton Maternity Unit once middle grade doctors are employed," they say. "It will also help repair the lack of trust in OUH displayed at the recent public meeting at St Mary's Church, Banbury. It may also help to retain staff at the Horton and JR."

The plan would also reduce costs on bank staff needed in the event of expected resignations and disruption to operating lists at the JR which would help the trust avoid expensive fines for missing targets.

Article originally published in the Banbury Guardian, 6 September 2016.


The Keep the Horton General Campaign is raising money to pay for campaign costs, including instructing specialist Lawyers, Leigh Day, to seek legal redress to challenge the Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust's decision to remove Consultant-Led Maternity and Special Care Baby Unit from the Horton General Hospital without sufficient public consultation, to the detriment of the large catchment of residents.

Please support this legal challenge and the wider campaign by donating to the fund at



A video of the board meeting, on 31 August 2016, at which the board voted to temporarily remove obstetrics from the Horton General Hospital and voted to replace it temporarily with a Midwife Led Unit is available on youtube.

Board meeting 31 August 2016


Joint letter and statement from all Political Parties in the Banbury Constituency.

To whom it may concern

Following the Oxford NHS Trust Board's extraordinary meeting about the suspension of obstetric services at the Horton General Hospital, we as representatives of all the main Political Parties in the Banbury Constituency wish to put on record our concerns and to show a unified front in support of the staff at our hospital and the Keep the Horton General committee. This unity amongst Politicians of the area is almost unprecedented and shows that as we stood together the last time the services were under threat ten years ago, so we are today, united in opposition to the decision taken.

We have major concerns about the way in which the Trust has communicated their plans, and the recruitment process itself. They now say they will aim to recruit for January,so we hope they will do all that is possible to meet their own deadline. Downgrading the unit to a midwife-only service, leading to women in labour having to travel to the John Radcliff consultant-led unit an hour’s drive away, will put the lives of both mothers and babies at risk.

We believe the decision to downgrade the service at the Horton, even on a temporary basis is wrong. We can't understand why the Trust has not implemented locum support or temporary cover until recruitment is successful. Indeed if it is seen as fair for a pregnant mother in difficulty to travel to Oxford then surely a temporary measure of a consultant travelling to Banbury is feasible?

We also ask the Trust that any decision taken on this issue will not impact on other acute services at the Horton..

Political Parties locally will continue to put our own lesser differences aside and support Keep The Horton General, and together will monitor the Trust and its stated aims to recruit for the new year to secure the future of the Horton General Hospital for our constituents and the residents we serve.

Yours sincerely

Cllr Kieron Mallon Conservative Group Leader, Banbury Town Council
Cllr Steve Kilsby Labour Group Leader, Banbury Town Council
Cllr John Howson Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate 2015
Cllr David Williams Green Party Leader, Oxfordshire County Council
Mr. Dickie Bird UKIP Chairman Oxfordshire

Letter dated 2 September 2016



At a board meeting yesterday afternoon (31 August 2016), Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUHFT) decided to suspend Consultant led Maternity Services at Horton General Hospital in Banbury.

Keep the Horton General campaign group (KTHG) instructed lawyers at Leigh Day earlier in the week. Lawyers sent a letter to the Trust on behalf of KTHG prior to the decision, setting out that a reduction of services would breach the Trust's obligation to involve patients in its decision making on service provision. The Trust did not consult members of the public in relation to the decision.

The reduction leaves only one midwife and one assistant to care for expectant mothers and babies for a population of nearly 47,000. Campaigners claim that OUHFT has made inadequate attempts to recruit replacement staff.

KTHG now awaits the Trust's reply to the letter, before discussing with its lawyers about what steps to take next. This follows a summer-long campaign, in which campaigners, politicians and staff fought a tough battle to keep the Maternity Unit intact.

Meanwhile, residents from Banbury have made their feelings known at a series of events, including two demonstrations at the Maternity Unit; Banbury's biggest ever public protest 'Hands Around the Horton', at which 5,000 people joined hands in a symbolic circle of protection around the hospital; two awareness-raising market stalls; support and publicity at Fairport Convention and ultimately, taking to the stage to publicly question and challenge the Trust at St Mary's.

"We could not have done any more,"" said Keith Strangwood, Chairman of KTHG. "We have done our utmost to get the message out to the public of Banburyshire that the OUHFT are hell bent on destroying our hospital. As long as we have a representative standing, we will fight on."


1 September 2016


We think you're going to like this, supporters.

The GPs have done us proud and their support could not be clearer or more welcome at this critical time.

Click here for a pdf of the GPs' damning letter.

Letter from GPs to Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Clinical Commissioning Group, Oxford University Hospitals Trust and Keep the Horton General Campaign



The Trust Directors are meeting on Wednesday 31st August - just a few days from now - to decide the future of our maternity unit. This could be the action that causes everything we value at the Horton General Hospital to topple like dominoes.

So this is an URGENT request to everyone who has emailed the OCCG via their GP, or written to their MP, or has left a message on our facebook group, or who has not yet got round to writing.

Please, take the letter or message you have written, tweak it if you have to, and then send it to all these people. (You should be able to copy and paste this entire list into the "To" box in your email)

More influential people, albeit not on the board:

We suspect that once the letters start to flood their inboxes, they will filter messages containing the word "Horton" so they are not inconvenienced. To counter this, please copy in so we know how many they received.

If your email provider allows it, you could set a Read Request on your email so you can see if they've opened it.

Thank you for taking this urgent action.




Stephen Kennedy and Bruno Holthof have, it appears, led such a lack-lustre recruitment drive, that we are left with a critical shortage of doctors in post. Will you join us in contacting Dame Fiona Caldicott, chair of the trust board, to request the removal of these two men from their posts?

Only yesterday Bruno Holthof stated on National TV that there were no doctors to recruit, despite being told potential staff were being interviewed next week. How can we trust them when they publicily state their complete commitment to a full obstetric services, whilst knowing that later this year they are going to consult on plans to downgrade it, even if the current crisis is resolved?

Mr Kennedy may be a good gynaecologist, but to allow a situation like this as Head of Service to develop on his watch, is unacceptable.

We have been made aware that there are doctors sat with their bags packed waiting to come from overseas. Victoria Prentis will expedite their visas if necessary. In this desperate situation, to state that interviews couldn't take place because someone was on holiday is incredible.

This calls into question the motive for not making the post more attractive, when it appears easily remedied:- rotation to enable enhanced training experience, better pay and longer term contracts.

Dr Holthof's apparent desire to sell off part of the site for housing, given the growing population appears to show a flagrant disregard for people in this part of North Oxfordshire. We should be extending the hospital and in particular the maternity unit to take pressure off of the JR and to bring back the teaching accreditation.

If you can't think of anything to write simply copy and paste the above.

We need to let Dame Caldicott know we have serious reservations regarding the leadership shown by Kennedy and Holthof. If you do nothing else this weekend make a difference, spend five minutes sending the e-mail. Please also copy to your own MP, contact details here. If you're on facebook, tag this post when you've done it so we have an idea of how many have taken action.

Our lives could literally depend upon it.

Please email:




The Trust Directors meet at the JR at 3pm on Wednesday 31st August to decide the future of our maternity unit, with knock on effects for most departments at the Horton General Hospital

We're arranging a FREE COACH to take people to the meeting.

Arrangements are still being made, but the plan is that we will leave at 1.15pm sharp from in front of the Whately Hall hotel.

If you're on facebook, please comment on this thread to let us know how many people to expect.

If you haven't got a facebook account please email with the word COACH in the subject line. We're currently receiving a very high volume of emails so we will do our best to pick up all the requests.




At a packed St Mary's Church last night (25 August), Banbury told Oxford University Hospital Trust bosses loud and clear that they will not tolerate the downgrading of maternity services at the Horton General Hospital.

After two last minute changes in format, Keep the Horton General campaigners were given a prominent position on stage and right of reply to the trust's answers. The audience cheered as KTHG chair Keith Strangwood interrupted Dr Bruno Holthof's opening speech to present him with a copy of nearly 15,000 petition signatures, collected over the last few weeks in protest at the imminent removal of consultant-led maternity, and the potential downgrading of many other departments at the Horton General Hospital.

After the opening speeches by the trust, independent chair Rev. Philip Cochrane asked many questions on behalf of people who had emailed himself and Victoria Prentis MP prior to the meeting. Members of KTHG, midwives and people from Banbury, including many parents and expectant mothers, also took to the microphone to ask questions and challenge the answers.

Trust managers, including the chief executive Dr Bruno Holthof, looked flustered and irritated as the audience erupted over their disputed claims regarding their efforts to recruit, the time taken to get to the JR, the availability of ambulances and their downplaying of risk to delivering mothers and babies. At one point, Dr Holthof embarrassed himself by not knowing the name of Catherine Greenwood, a clinician who was sharing the stage with him, and with whom he was supposedly working to resolve the problems at the Horton.

Incredulous at the trust's claims that the cuts are all about patient safety, supporters held up signs reading "Dead in an Ambulance" and "The JR is TOO FAR" whenever any of the Oxford University Hospitals Trust panel made this claim. The placards referred to the inevitable consequences for some women and babies if obstetric support is taken away, accessible only by a blue light ambulance journey of at least 45 minutes.

Rev. Philip Cochrane did an admirable job maintaining control in difficult circumstances as the audience grew increasingly angry with the trust's inadequate, evasive and misleading answers.

The trust's claims that "premium offers" had been made and turned down were challenged with evidence that salaries of just £38k and one-year contracts had been offered to prospective obstetricians. The trust was also challenged over their continuing failure, over several weeks, to interview up to 17 doctors with UK maternity experience, who are known to be waiting "with their bags packed" to come to work at the Horton General Hospital. Andrew McHugh, retired Horsefair GP Surgery Practice Manager, walked off stage and left the meeting in protest at the trust's insistence that sufficient efforts had been made to recruit the specialist doctors needed to keep the maternity unit fully open. He received a standing ovation as he stormed out of the building.

The Q&A event ended with the loudest applause of the evening when a brave Horton General Hosptial midwife took to the stage to read out a statement on behalf of her fellow midwives.

"I am currently a midwife at the unit and we all would like to thank KTHG for affording us these few moments to speak," she said. "Until now our presence and our voices have remained quiet... but tonight I now call upon my sisters here in this hall to stand up with me. Stand tall, stand proud, and stand united in our one voice, our one message.

"We are all at our very core only focused on one thing.... the safe provision of quality care to the women and families in our charge. We plead now personally to you, Dr Bruno Holthof, to reject your Trust's Contingency Plans, to insist your Obstetric Consultants across both hospitals pull together temporarily with agency doctors until the proposed Ugandan Doctors are in post.

We demand we are no longer silenced, that our contribution and place within OUHFT is acknowledged and respected and that despite the lack of trust in your Trust, Dr Holthof, you prove to us, your staff, that you are patient focused, women centred and recognise fully the important crucial role the whole of the Horton General Hospital plays in this growing community."

The midwives received a standing ovation from the audience, politicians and campaigners, with only the trust managers remaining seated.

Later, supporters took to social media to express their disgust at the trust's answers and their fears that, despite the trust's assurances that a decision has not yet been made, it is a "done deal". Videos, photos and public comments are available on our Save Our Horton facebook page.

Our thanks to Robert Shepley of for allowing us to use his article as a starting point for this report.


We are pleased to announce that we will now have a presence on the stage and a right to reply.....

So can we please, urge you to come and listen to the debate....

There will be a five minute only presentation on the stage by the Trust as we are keen to take as many questions as is possible.

The Chairman will be ensuring there is not any time wasting.

This is our last chance before the Trust makes their final decision next Wednesday to convince the Trust this is unworkable and dangerous.

We look forward to seeing you - the meeting starts at 7pm.


There has been a last minute change of plan by the organisers of the event at St Mary's on Thursday.

KTHG are now denied a position on the platform, which will now consist of Trust and possibly Clinical Commissioning Group representatives.

We are given to understand that in addition to the original two proposed panellists, Paul Brennan, Andrew Stephens, Steven Kennedy, John Haggerty, David Smith, Catherine Stoddard and Bruno Holthof will be attending.

We are, as you will understand, concerned by the change of plans. We have received assurances that although not on the panel the right to reply or challenge, will by permission of the chair be given.

It appears obvious that our campaign has generated more support than the Trust anticipated.

Although consideration was given to boycott this meeting, we believe this would be counter productive. We are after all your voice and so we would encourage you to send in your questions and to attend the meeting, please.

Dr Holthof must see that Banbury rejects these proposals even on a temporary basis.



We need to keep the pressure on after Sunday's massive Hands Around the Horton protest!

The next event is a Q&A evening, organised by Victoria Prentis and Banbury Town Council. There will be two panellists in favour of the cuts and two against the cuts. The event will be chaired by Rev. Philip Cochrane of St Mary's.

Send your questions to and independent chair Rev. Philip Cochrane

  • Date: Thursday 25th August
  • Time: 7pm
  • Location: St Mary's Church, Banbury
St Mary's Q&A poster

Here's Victoria's press release:

"Residents worried about the future of Banbury's Horton Hospital are invited to a question and answer session at St Mary's Church on Thursday 25 August.

Representatives of the Oxford University Hospitals Trust which wants to downgrade services at the hospital, and members of the Save the Horton campaign who are against the proposed cuts will answer questions from members of the public.

The event is being organised by Banbury Town Council and MP Victoria Prentis - and the session will begin at 7pm.

Mrs Prentis said: "All of us who rely on the Horton General Hospital really need to hear directly from the Trust why they are considering cutting services, and I hope that this question and answer event will get into the detail of the debate. It is so important that we have all the facts so we know what we are dealing with and what we have to do to save the Horton General Hospital's vital services." Mrs Prentis is asking members of the public to send questions to her in advance of the meeting. She said: "This will ensure a breadth of topics on the night and allow us to make the most of the time we have."

Questions should be sent via email to

The meeting will be chaired by Rev Philip Cochrane of St Mary's and the panel will be announced nearer the event."



In what is being described as Banbury's largest protest ever, an astounding 5,000 people joined "Hands Around the Horton" today (21 August 2016) in a massive show of support for the Horton General Hospital against the Trust's unsafe and inhumane cuts to services, including maternity, A&E, the Special Care Baby Unit, stroke and rehabilitation services, Oak and F Wards, and the 24/7 Children's Ward.

We were denied the opportunity to enter Trust property, but this just spurred us on further, and the line of people stretched even further than when we fought off similar cuts in 2008; circling not just the Horton General Hospital but also a neighbouring residential area, the main Oxford Road and the inner relief road.

After the protest, supporters reconvened in Banbury's town centre for a massive photoshoot demonstrating the huge number of people fighting for THEIR hospital.

The organisers, Keep the Horton General with MP Victoria Prentis and local elected officials, would like to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who turned out in support of our hospital today - we're sure this won't have gone unnoticed by the Trust, or the Directors and Governors who meet on 31 August to decide the future of maternity at the Horton General Hospital.

Just to prove we went all the way around, here's some photos from our facebook page today! Thanks to everyone who posted, check out this page on facebook for all today's shots! Save Our Horton photo page

We've also got some amazing video footage from Jonathan Ruffle of Fresh-FX, Jake Mayo, and Sophie and Chris Hammond who drove around the perimeter while everyone was getting into position.

Hands Around the Horton - video by Johnathan Ruffle / Fresh FX

Hands Around the Horton - video by Jake Mayo (shared via Dropbox - just click "no thanks view anyway" if you don't want to sign up to Dropbox)

Hands Around the Horton - getting into position - Oxford Road entrance / Hightown Road / Valley Road disappearing into Green Lane (not visible due to it being a track) - Sophie & Chris Hammond

Hands Around the Horton - getting into position - Green Lane emerging from the left onto Upper Windsor St (Morrisons Hill) / back to Oxford Road entrance - Sophie & Chris Hammond

Hands Around the Horton protest 21 Aug 2016 Hands Around the Horton protest 21 Aug 2016 Hands Around the Horton protest 21 Aug 2016 Hands Around the Horton protest 21 Aug 2016 Hands Around the Horton protest 21 Aug 2016 Hands Around the Horton protest 21 Aug 2016 Hands Around the Horton protest 21 Aug 2016 Hands Around the Horton protest 21 Aug 2016 Hands Around the Horton protest 21 Aug 2016 Hands Around the Horton protest 21 Aug 2016 Hands Around the Horton protest 21 Aug 2016 Hands Around the Horton protest 21 Aug 2016 Hands Around the Horton protest 21 Aug 2016 Hands Around the Horton protest 21 Aug 2016 Hands Around the Horton protest 21 Aug 2016 Hands Around the Horton protest 21 Aug 2016 Hands Around the Horton protest 21 Aug 2016


SUNDAY 21ST AUGUST - 10.30am


Please meet near the main Oxford Road entrance to the Horton General Hospital for a 10.30am start.

Marshals wearing high-viz jackets will help you fan out safely around the hospital perimeter.


  • Please stay on the path
  • Please obey the marshals
  • Please do not go onto Trust property at any time
  • Do not obstruct ambulances or other vehicles entering or leaving the hospital under any circumstances!

Depending on numbers, the route will be:

  • Oxford Road, Hightown Road, past Morrisons, Upper Windsor Street
  • or

  • Oxford Road, Hightown Road, Green Lane to bridge, Upper Windsor Street

By 10.45am we should all be in position and JOIN "HANDS AROUND THE HORTON". Maybe we can get a Mexican Wave or two going?

There will be photographers there to record the event, so please bring banners and placards and wear campaign t-shirts if you have them! If you haven't got a t-shirt yet, you can get one from our market stall tomorrow, 9am - 4pm, Banbury market place, £6 each.

The protest will end at 11am.

Marshals will encourage protesters to leave safely, using the pavements.

Also on Sunday!

As we will be spread out around the hospital, it will be impossible to photograph everyone together during the protest.

All is not lost!

We have a stall on Sunday, by McDonalds, so that people can sign our petition and hand in any completed petitions they have brought with them. The Town Council says supporters can gather in the area around the bus shelter, near our stall, shortly before 12 noon. The road will then be closed briefly for a photo.

The photo shoot will be at the place where the Christmas Tree stands, near the Town Hall, at 12 noon.

We hope you can make it down there with your t-shirts and placards!

Thank you and see you all on Sunday!



Are you struggling to put pen to paper?

The most important thing you can do is write to the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, via your GP, and copy it to your MP. A personal letter is best by a long way, but for those of you who are struggling to get started, why not download our template letter?

Simply overtype the bits in red with your own information, and then change the text however you like. Remember - if you can add something that makes it personal, it will mean much more.

Click here to download the template letter in Word format

Here's a list of surgery addresses.

Here's a pdf of all the email addresses of our local MPs

PLEASE write - this is without a doubt the most important and helpful thing you can do



SUNDAY 21st AUGUST - 10.30am

This should be our biggest protest so far! Thousands of us, all joining hands in a circle of support and protection for the Horton General Hospital.

We need a really big turn out for this so please share as much as you can!

Why not download the poster and put it up in your window or work noticeboard?

Hands Around the Horton poster


98.7% oppose downgrading maternity to midwife-only unit

98.9% oppose downgrading A&E to minor injuries unit

97.9% oppose downgrading the 24/7 children's ward

Residents of Banburyshire are overwhelmingly against plans to remove consultant-led maternity and other acute services from the Horton, according to the interim results of our survey. We created our own survey after the OUHFT sent a complicated questionnaire to a limited number of trust members in an information-gathering exercise to inform its downgrading plans.

Our survey, which has had over 2,100 submissions so far, is still open. Its findings show:

98.7 per cent of respondents oppose downgrading of maternity, to provide "home birth in hospital" without consultant care, access to specialist operations, or even forceps, ventouse (suction) or epidurals.

98.9% oppose replacing A&E with a GP-led minor injuries unit.

97.9 per cent oppose the loss of the 24-hour children's ward with paediatric specialists in attendance.

KTHG survey graphic

Respondents were able to use comment spaces to air their views and to express their priorities for the Horton. Free-text comments so far run to 178,000 words, or 273 pages, demonstrating how strongly people feel about the threats to their hospital.

Here's a sample of the comments.

"I am outraged this is being put forward; I have lost my GP practice already. We cannot lose a vital hospital. My first son was an emergency-section at the Horton, a surprise breech baby, very quick delivery and his leg was twisted. If there had only been midwives there, he would no doubt have arrived in an ambulance on the way to the JR and been left with numerous injuries to his hip - and to me. We were both fine, thanks to an excellent emergency section, 15 minutes after it was spotted! The long term costs of these plans is ridiculous."

"The downgrading of the Horton is unsafe. The population and their needs are growoing all the time. Access to Oxford hospitals is appalling and capacity for the increased patient-load is not there."

"If the services go, GP training will be threatened. There is an unprecedented crisis in Banbury practices whose GPs include those who have trained under the local shceme. Losing this will further impact on local recruitment problems and patients will be in real danger."

"A midwife-led maternity unit would result in death or disability for babies in distress. How much would it cost in compensation for potential claims for babies having cerebral palsy as a result?"

"We moved from Stratford to Banbury for the A&E. It should not change."

"When my son was born he spent a week in special care. It was such a hard time for me and it meant so much that my husband could come and spend each day with us and get there quickly when any emergency arose."

"If services wre moved it would take twice as long to get there from Brackley. It scares me that our nearest hospital might be 45 minutes to an hour away. Having no Horton would mean an increase in ambulances called out and that service is creaking itself."

Notably, many of the already-angry respondents had significantly underestimated the time taken to get to the JR. Journey times of over an hour are common, and even the OUHFT admits (in their patient information letters) that patients should allow an hour to find a parking space. We know of one patient who missed their appointment after trying to find a parking space for 3 hours.

KTHG chairman Keith Strangwood said: "The people of Banbury and many visitors to the town are absolutely appalled and utterly perplexed by Oxford University Hospitals Trust's plan to decimate services at the Horton. When will OUHT start to listen to the people - the patients?"

To complete our survey, visit

Based on an article originally published in the Banbury Guardian, 9 August 2016. Read the original article here.


Story / pic - Oxford Mail, 12/8/16

A NEW mum has called on an NHS trust not to force pregnant women in north Oxfordshire to take long, risky journeys to get the healthcare they need, reports the Oxford Mail, 12/8/16.

New mum Sophie Hammond speaks out against Horton General Hospital cuts

Sophie Hammond tore a major blood vessel giving birth birth to daughter Clementine last September and was saved by teams at the Horton General Hospital. Now the 30-year-old from Bodicote has demanded Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust not to let the Horton's maternity unit become 'midwife-led'.

Current proposals put forward by the trust would see no specialists based at the hospital, meaning anyone living in the north of the county experiencing pregnancy complications would have to go to Oxford, South Northamptonshire or even Warwick.

Mrs Hammond said: "It is unthinkable nonsense to downgrade services which surely need augmenting instead. The aftermath of my daughter's birth was a very traumatic and difficult time for us, but it was made more bearable by being looked after by a brilliant team."

After her birth Mrs Hammond lost two litres of blood in about five minutes and was rushed into the operating theatre "within seconds" by doctors. She said: "A retired Horton nurse I used to know said colleagues referred to the ambulance journey from Banbury to the JR as 'the death run'. "How can we consider ourselves a civilised society if we are taking backwards steps in the safe delivery of babies?"

In late July the trust confirmed it had been trying unsuccessfully since April and May to fill five vacant obstetric posts, and could have just three out of eight middle-grade doctors in obstetrics by the end of September. Last year about 1,500 babies were born at the Horton. Its current contingency plan involves operating temporarily as a midwife-led unit, with 'high-risk' women from North Oxfordshire taken to the John Radcliffe to give birth.

But Mrs Hammond, a church buildings officer for the Diocese of Oxford, said: "Surely the most logical, low-impact solution would be to rotate staff between the JR and the Horton. The conclusion I have come to is that there is no reason the hospital couldn't be a fully-staffed, well-regarded training facility if the trust so wished it."

Earlier (in) the month hundreds of people, including new and expectant Oxfordshire mothers and Victoria Prentis MP, gathered in front of the Horton to protest the plans. Work has also begun at the John Radcliffe to prepare for the possibility of extra beds being needed at the Women's Centre.

Paul Brennan, director of clinical services at OUH, said the trust had been "working very hard" to attract new applicants and fill the roles. He said: "The posts have an enhanced pay level above the national recommendations, along with financial assistance for VISA application, and provide the opportunity for doctors to develop their skills by undertaking Advanced Training Specialist Modules and spend time at the unit in Oxford. We believe we have got a good offer for doctors wants a role that offers some responsibility and also variety, and we are continuing to advertise."

JR IS "FULL TO BURSTING" and cannot take on Banbury's births, say staff

Story - Banbury Guardian, 10/8/16

The prospect of moving Banbury area's consultant maternity work to Oxford is set to overwhelm that department, according to staff inside the John Radcliffe reports the Banbury Guardian, 10/8/16.

A member of staff at the John Radcliffe described the Oxford University Hospitals Trust's (OUHT) plan to end consultant cover for births at the Horton General Hospital as 'so manipulated it's scary'.

"I haven't come across anyone at the JR yet who understands why this is happening. Doctors and midwives seem to be baffled. There are only a handful of people behind this and they don't have a clue about the numbers involved, not only from the Banbury community point of view but from the capacity at the JR. It simply couldn't cope.

"The last two weeks have been particularly tough and we are constantly full to bursting, asking the Horton to help us out. How can this make any sense. It has been so manipulated it's scary."

The OUHT says unless it can recruit sufficient senior doctors to provide safe cover it will have to remove all consultant-led births to the JR women's centre in late September when three clinical research fellows leave. Any midwife-led births that encounter problems will have to be transferred, mid delivery, to Oxford. Midwives and campaigners have been searching for solutions that might help avoid downgrading of the unit, which would happen at the same time as consultation for proposed downgrading of other acute services - expected to be announced at the end of this month.

One Horton doctor has alerted suitably qualified obstetric colleagues in his home country of Uganda and it is understood six have sent their CVs to the head of Obstetrics at the trust for consideration.

Former Horton midwife, Sarah Ayre said: "Staff are overwhelmed by public support. They are doing all they can to keep the unit fully functioning as a consultant led unit. They demand women have easy, timely access to doctors. The JR always has been too far. Management know how many women they send to the Horton because they are fit to burst at the JR. The risks and dangers are huge and obvious."


We had a fantastic day on our market stall!

It was great to see so many of you, listen to your experiences and answer your questions about the threats to the Horton and what we can all do about it. We completely sold out of badges and t-shirts, and plenty of cake was consumed! We got hundreds of signatures and handed out hundreds more petitions which we hope you'll complete and return to us by Sunday 21st August - ideally by hand at "Hands Around the Horton"!

Thanks for taking the time to come and see us - it really helps to see the community so overwhelmingly behind us.

Market stall 6 August 2016
Market stall 6 August 2016
Market stall 6 August 2016
Market stall 6 August 2016
Market stall 6 August 2016
Market stall 6 August 2016


This flyer is a great summary of the threats and actions you can take. Click the images to download.

Threats and actions, front
Threats and actions, back

We'll be doing a single sided poster version shortly too.


Are you in town this Saturday, 6th August?

Why not pop down to Banbury Market and pay a visit to our market stall? Buy your campaign "T" shirt and badge, pick up a flyer, template letter and petition, and there might even be a cupcake left if you get there quickly enough!

On a serious note, this is a great opportunity to learn about the immediate threat to Consultant-led maternity, and to find out about the "emerging options" and how they affect the whole of the Horton General Hospital. It would be lovely to see you.

Our thanks to Sketts Market for allowing us to have the stall, and to Banbury Town Council for arranging it for us.


Distinct from the online petitions that have been set up by members of the public, this is a brand new petition from Keep the Horton General, targeted at some organisations you may not have heard of, but who are able to influence what the Trust is able to do.

It is being released as a paper petition because we need to reach people who are not on facebook or online, many of whom are not yet aware that there is a threat. Please help us gain awareness as well as signatures by sharing, printing, signing, and collecting signatures wherever you can.

Click here to download and print our petition.


This message was posted on our facebook page by a miwife formerly employed by the Trust. "The midwives and care assistance of Horton maternity would like to say a huge thank you for all that is being done to save the unit they are immensely proud of... We are a family through and through and are so overwhelmed by all that is being done to fight our corner. Special thanks to KTHG and Sarah Ayre.
We are bound by Trust policy and our NMC Code of Conduct so are unable to speak openly in the media .... But wanted everyone to know that we are there, sometimes quietly at the back, sometimes in spirit (all rolled up into Sarah)

"#handsoffourhorton‬! You won't get it without a fight!!!!!!!!!!"


Thank you all for the great turn out this evening; we think there were between 400 and 500 people there which is brilliant for four days notice! It was lovely talking to so many of you and seeing so many Horton babies.
KTHG Chair Keith Strangwood, Banbury MP Victoria Prentis and campaigner Kate Spencer spoke to the crowds before we began the main event - recording the campaign song, with lyrics by Fiona Kempsell set to the tune of "History" by One Direction.

The children were fantastic singing; Keith Strangwood and former Horton midwife Sarah Ayre were such good sports singing solo; well done both of you. We can't wait to see the video, which is being produced by Barney Cremin and Jake Mayo and will be posted on YouTube as soon as it's complete.

Crowds of Horton babies sing for the Horton

Crowds of Horton babies sing for the Horton. Credit - Ian Gentles

New mums and babies join the crowds in support of the Horton

New mums and babies join the crowds in support of the Horton. Credit - Ian Gentles

Crowds in support of the Horton

Crowds in support of the Horton. Credit - Ian Gentles

Crowds in support of the Horton

Crowds in support of the Horton. Credit - Ian Gentles

Chair Keith Strangwood and former Horton midwife Sarah Ayre sing solo for the Horton

Chair Keith Strangwood and former Horton midwife Sarah Ayre sing solo for the Horton. Credit - Kate Spencer

Horton babies sing for the Horton

Crowds of Horton babies sing for the Horton. Credit - Kate Spencer

Chair Keith Strangwood speaking for the Horton

Chair Keith Strangwood speaking for the Horton. Credit - Peter Jones

MP Victoria Prentis spoke in favour of protecting services at the Horton

MP Victoria Prentis spoke in favour of protecting services at the Horton. Credit - Peter Jones

Crowds in support of the Horton

Crowds in support of the Horton. Credit - Ian Gentles

Crowds in support of the Horton

Crowds in support of the Horton. Credit - Ian Gentles

Crowds in support of the Horton

Crowds in support of the Horton. Credit - Kate Spencer

We released our own petition at this evening's event. Distinct from the online petitions that have already been set up by members of the public, this is a brand new petition from Keep the Horton General. It's targeted at some organisations you may not have heard of, but who are able to influence what the Trust is able to do.

It is being released as a paper petition because we need to reach people who are not on facebok or online, many of whom are not yet aware that there is a threat. Please help us gain awareness as well as signatures by sharing, printing, signing, and collecting signatures wherever you can.

Click here to download and print our petition.

Our petitions and flyers were kindly donated by Kall Kwik Banbury. Thanks for taking all our petitions away to be filled in.

We hope we'll see all of you, and even more, on Sunday 21st August for Hands Around the Horton!

Protest 30 July 2016


Saturday 30th July - 7.30 for 7.45 pm

If you missed Tuesday's protest against cuts at the Horton General Hospital - don't worry - we're doing it again on Saturday!

When - 7.30 for 7.45 pm, Saturday 30th July (to coincide with the midwives' shift change)
Where - Hightown Road (ie outside the Horton)

Meet the campaigners and Victoria Prentis and share your concerns, and join in with the (optional!) campaign song for You Tube. The press should be there, so let's make this huge!


The post you've been waiting for - it's time to protest

KTHG, Victoria Prentis MP, and local politicians from all parties are joining together to organise a public protest event - HANDS AROUND OUR HORTON.

Join us and hundreds, maybe thousands of others, as we join hands in a show of unity and support for the Horton!

Date: Sunday 21st August
Time: 10.30am

More details will be publicised when finalised.

Meanwhile KTHG are planning an additional event prior to the Hands round the Horton, as we believe we need to act NOW. Keep an eye on FB Save Our Horton and local press for details.

In the meantime, click here to find out what YOU can do right now.

Hands Around Our Horton graphic


Three doctors resign - consultant-led maternity could be gone by September

KTHG Chairman Keith Strangwood and retired Horton consultant Peter Fisher attended a meeting re the future of consultant led maternity at the Horton today (20 July 2016).

The outcome was extremely disturbing.

The Trust representatives informed the meeting that due to 'three clinical fellows resigning' the service would not be safe from the first week of September onwards. They are now drawing up a contingency plan. Allegedly a recruitment drive has been unsuccessful, although the Trust representative when questioned, could not remember where the posts had been advertised.

Interim measures include converting offices to maternity wards at the JR. Don't forget the major traffic chaos that will kick in shortly whilst the Trust links the heating systems of the JR and Churchill hospitals.

MP Victoria Prentis's representative, who attended the meeting, has said that she hopes the 'changes are being considered as a contingency/absolute last resort, pending the outcome of their recruitment drive in the coming weeks'.

Let's hope she is right....

So what can/should you do right now?

We are certain Banbury will want to stand up against this, and are drawing up plans right now, which will be revealed as soon as we have a time and a place for you.

In the meantime, click here to find out what YOU can do right now.


OUHFT annouce closure of Oak Ward and downsizing of F Ward

We heard late yesterday, from several sources within the Horton General Hospital, that the OUHFT has announced the closure of Oak Ward, and the downsizing of F Ward. They intend that this will happen by 3 October.

36 beds will be lost and 60 staff will be "re-deployed" as a result. We understand staff were told yesterday.

Oak Ward houses acute general medicine patients while F Ward takes trauma and orthopaedic patients.

Staff and campaigners were left stunned by the announcement, which (contrary to the "rules of engagement" in place since our 2008 victory over the OUHFT's downgrading plans) had neither been discussed at the Community Partnership Forum, or opened up to any form of consultation.

We must stress that this news is not yet confirmed, and we will bring you more as soon as we have more information.



The Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUHFT) is consulting on the way services are provided at the Horton General Hospital in Banbury. They have circulated a questionnaire to selected people in Banburyshire.

Their plans could take away A&E, consultant-led maternity, Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU), 24 hour / 7 day a week children's ward and intensive care.

Keep the Horton General would like to give everyone the chance to have their say.

Please take a few minutes to fill in our survey so the voice of Banburyshire patients is heard loud and clear.

There are three sections to our survey -

  • Section One is about you: age, gender, postcode and employment status.
  • Section Two is the 'Keep The Horton General' survey.
  • Section Three is a 'Plain English' version of the OUHFT questionnaire. We didn't design this bit but we do need you to complete it as best you can. If you find it impossible to rate any of the options, you may like to leave an appropriate comment in the box on the question.

Please answer all three sections. It may help to read all of the questions first.

Click here for the KTHG survey

When you've done it, pass it on!

Please let your friends and colleagues know about our survey. Simply copy and paste the following into your email, facebook post, tweet or text:

Thanks for sharing!


Think you wouldn't be impacted by the options proposed for the Horton General Hospital's maternity unit, SCBU or paediatrics? This letter, sent by Mr & Mrs James to the Banbury Guardian on 30 June, summarises some of the conditions under which a mother wishing to give birth at the Horton would not be permitted to do so. According to their letter, the conditions under which a mother would be forced to go to the JR include, but are not limited to:

  • wanting an epidural
  • wanting or needing a Caesarian
  • twin pregnancy
  • raised blood pressure
  • pre-term
  • forceps required mid-labour
  • ventouse (aka vacuum-assisted / suction) required mid-labour
  • paediatric support required mid-labour
  • antibiotics required mid-labour
  • large blood loss experienced mid-labour

In addition, any second-time-mother who had experienced ANY of the above during her first labour would automatically be classed as high risk, and would be expected to make her own way to the JR.

This list is consistent with the preclusions we were told about during the last campaign in 2006 - but do we have any midwives (present or past) who could confirm this would still be the case?

The full text of Mr & Mrs James' letter (our emphasis), reproduced with the permission of the Banbury Guardian, is below.

Letter on the types of births impacted by the propsed service reduction by Mr & Mrs James, 30 June 2016

"Speak out over Horton cuts"

I am writing to the Banbury Guardian about the proposed plans at the Horton General Hospital, specifically, the maternity unit.

I want to inform the people of Banbury and the surrounding areas of the difference between an obstetric unit (current services) and a midwife led unit (proposed plan). A midwife led unit will only cater for those with low risk pregnancies and labour. And that's it. Anything that falls short of uncomplicated, low risk means the women of Banbury will be expected to travel to the John Radcliffe in Oxford. The list of services which will be withdrawn include but are in no way limited to the following: there will be NO epidural service, NO Caesarian sections (emergency or pre-booked), NO women who have previously had a Caesarian section or large blood loss, NO twin pregnancies, NO raised blood pressure, NO birth requiring paediatric support, NO pre term births, NO access to ventouse or forceps births if required, NO doctors on hand to provide emergency support, NO antibiotics in labour and NO operating theatres. Also, if there have been complications in a previous pregnancy or birth, this will also impact on whether the new current pregnancy is deemed low risk. For example, a previous normal birth may have been complicated by a large blood loss, and this will deem the next pregnancy as high risk (of it reoccurring).

The maternity unit at the Horton currently works closely with the paediatricians and special care baby unit (SCBU) to offer a service to the women, families and newborns of the Banbury area. The plans are to close SCBU and withdraw the paediatric service. Babies born needing immediate support and a stay on the SCBU, those requiring antibiotics, or phototherapy for jaundice will NOT be catered for at the Horton. Babies and families will be expected to travel to the John Radcliffe.

And did you know there are plans to close your A&E department? Fancy travelling to Oxford with your sick child? Or elderly relative?

Speak out. Don't let your hospital be dismantled in this way. You deserve a fully operational general hospital. Banbury is expanding. The population is increasing and will continue to increase.

Will the John Radcliffe cope? Is it coping now?

Mr and Mrs James, Boulton (via email)


Remember we told you that the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) are the group who decide which services are provided in Oxfordshire?

Well the OCCG is inviting YOU to have your say on how health care is delivered in Oxfordshire at a drop-in event in Banbury Town Hall on Tuesday 12 July, 6pm - 9pm.

They want your views on how local GP, community and hospital services should develop so that "services are of high quality, closer to home, more convenient with better access and can overcome a £200m funding gap by 2020/21."

The events are informal "drop-ins" with NHS clinicians and staff on hand to take questions and feedback.

They will focus on:

  • the financial health challenges within Oxfordshire
  • how we can improve the overall health of people in Oxfordshire
  • how we can prevent people from getting ill
  • how we can improve quality
  • make best use of tax payers money
  • how you can get more actively involved including hearing about our plans for public consultation later in the year around models of care across Oxfordshire

The Big Conversation Roadshows are being held on:

Tuesday 12 July, 6pm - 9pm, at Banbury Town Hall
Monday 18 July, 6pm - 9pm, at The Beacon in Wantage
Thursday 21 July, 6pm - 9pm, at Oxford Town Hall
Tuesday 26 July, 2pm - 5pm, at St Mary's Church, Wallingford
Thursday 28 July, 2pm - 5pm, at the Littlebury Hotel, Bicester
Thursday 4 August, 11am - 2pm, Methodist Church, Witney

If you would like more information about these events, please contact Julia Stackhouse (OCCG) on 01865 334638

Click here for the OCCG press release


Do you run a village magazine or school newsletter?

Can you help us get our message out?

KTHG have issued two press releases - long and short versions of the same message - describing the threats to services at the Horton General Hospital and telling people what they can do to help.

You can download them here:

Long version (598 words)
Short version (218 words)

Please help us to reach those people in our community who don't read the local papers or use facebook!


A&E, medicine, orthopaedics, CCU at risk as well as SCBU, maternity and Children's Ward

At today's public session of the Community Partnership Network (CPN), the OUHFT presented their "emerging options" for the Horton General Hospital. The OUHFT said all options will need to be assessed for activity, workforce, finance and estates and there will be a full consultation in October 2016.

Option 1

Option 1 is what we currently have at the Horton General Hospital. It was initially presented to the CPN, and to the midwives on 3 June, as the "status quo" but more recently (perhaps as a result of unwanted publicity?) it has been honoured as an Option. Option 1, the status quo, is what the experts in the form of the IRP decreed we must have, at the end of the last campaign in 2007/8.

Andrew Stevens, OUHFT Director of Planning & Information, said "Option 1 is the status quo but if we thought that was adequate..... we would not be doing this exercise".

So let's look at Options 2 and 3, which the OUHFT believe to be the only real options.

Option 2

Under Option 2, Banbury's Horton General Hospital would:
Lose A&E - downgraded to GP urgent care and Minor Injuries Unit
Lose Acute Stroke and Rehab - downgraded to Rehab and Early Supported Discharge
Surgery (elective day cases) - would be limited to 8am to 3pm
Lose Surgery - elective inpatients
Lose elective orthopaedic inpatients
Medicine - elective day cases - would be limited to 8am - 3pm
Lose Medicine - elective inpatients
Medicine - non-elective inpatients - inpatient ward would be downgraded to frail assessment unit
Lose Critical adult care (Critical Care Unit)
Lose consultant-led Maternity - downgraded to Midwife Led Unit (ie no consultants or anaesthetists allocated to maternity)
Lose Special Care Baby Unit
Paediatric inpatients downgraded to paediatric observation and assessment unit (8-10)
(We think this means open 8am to 10pm, ie no overnight patients)

Option 3

Under Option 3, Banbury's Horton General Hospital would see:
A&E retained as "integrated urgent care centre with ED function + out of hours + minor injury unit + walk in centre"
Lose Acute Stroke and Rehab - downgraded to Rehab and Early Supported Discharge
Adult Critical Care - retained but in the form of a High Dependency Unit on-site + "e-ICU"
Lose consultant-led Maternity - downgraded to Midwife Led Unit (ie no consultants or anaesthetists allocated to maternity)
Lose Special Care Baby Unit
Paediatric inpatients downgraded to "paediatric observation and assessment unit, assessment and clinical decision unit (24/7)"

Keep the Horton General campaigners, midwives, SCBU staff and members of the public mounted a spirited and angry attack on the safety aspects of the options presented, the failure to communicate properly with staff, and the OUHFT's failure to ensure that the so-called midwife staff representatives were indeed representative of the staff, their opinions and commitment to the Horton General Hospital.

We were delighted to hear from Andrew McHugh (former practice manager, Horsefair Surgery) that, although he had supported previous OUHFT proposals, he was very concerned about the Midwife Led Unit (MLU) proposal. He had undertaken a survey of GPs in the area and they were "overwhelmingly against the MLU on the grounds of safety".

Andrew Stevens (OUHFT) stressed that they are still "evaluating and refining options" and that there will be a full public consultation beginning October 2016. He repeatedly attributed the options to various Clinical Groups, and said the OUHFT would consider other options if put forward by the CPN. As KTHG is aware of other smaller hospitals running Consultant Led Units with middle-grade staff (something the OUHFT Post Graduate Dean maintains is not possible, thereby creating the very problem that the OUHFT seek to "solve"), this offers some hope .

A special CPN maternity workshop will be set up, including actual working midwives, and attempts were made to secure similar promises for A&E, paediatrics and inpatient orthopaedics.

KTHG chairman Keith Strangwood proposed a motion to remove the worst option, Option 2, from consideration, it being totally contrary to the statement in the same paper that "almost all the patients currently being cared for at the Horton will continue to be cared for locally". A vote was taken after KTHG forced the issue, but unfortunately the motion did not pass, with 3 votes for striking out the option, and 9 for keeping the worst option in the process.

The documents presented in the meeting are publicly available from Cherwell District Council's website (Permanent link here.) The slide illustrated below, presented to the meeting, is on page 11 of the downloadable pdf.

Options for the Horton General Hospital presented by the OUHFT to the CPN 14 June 2016


Do you want to show the OUHFT how much the Horton General Hospital means to you?
Do you want to hear them discuss their plans for the Horton General Hospital?
Maybe ask them a question yourself?

Members of the public are invited to attend the next meeting of the Community Partnership Network (CPN) on Tuesday 14 June. As with all CPN meetings, it is open to the public and those attending should have the opportunity to comment or question. The proposed options for the Horton General Hospital should be discussed as part of the agenda.

What is it?
The CPN is a forum where representatives of all the groups with an interest in the Horton General Hospital can talk through proposals with the OUHFT. The Keep the Horton General campaign group has two members.

Where is the meeting?
Cherwell District Council's offices in Bodicote.

What time?
9.30am Tuesday 14th June.

Are you sure I'm invited?


We received some great support from the local media this week after we broke the news about the OUHFT's potential cuts to services at Banbury's Horton General Hospital.

The Banbury Guardian led with this article on 9 June 2016: Join the fight to ensure survival the Horton's maternity and children's services, says campaign group (Permanent link here)

KTHG chair talks to Banbury Guardian outside Horton General Hospital maternity unit
The Banbury Cake ran with this article: Change to Banbury hospital maternity services could cost lives, MP and campaigners warn (Permanent link here)

Finally, here's our Chair, Keith Strangwood, being interviewed by BBC Radio Oxford on 8 June.

KTHG chair talks to BBC news outside Horton General Hospital maternity unit


Keep the Horton General are delighted that Banbury MP, Victoria Prentis, has come out publicly in favour of retaining Consultant Led Maternity and the 24/7 Childrens Ward at Banbury's Horton General Hospital.

Writing on her website on 8 June, Ms Prentis wrote, "While no decisions have been made yet, I want to make it clear from the outset that I feel very strongly that we must keep high level maternity care at the Horton. The most important factor is the safety of mothers and babies."

Banbury MP Victoria Prentis and Sir Tony Baldry outside Horton General Hospital maternity unit

KTHG is in frequent contact with both Ms Prentis and former Banbury MP, Sir Tony Baldry, and are grateful for the support and advice of both.

Ms Prentis posted this update on her website (scroll down to 8 June)


As you will be aware the NHS has suffered swingeing cuts to its budget in real terms over recent years.

The Oxford University Hospital Foundation Trust is not immune to these budgetary restraints.

However their current proposals for the Horton General Hopital are going over exactly the same ground that was covered, and secured, only eight years ago. Here's a link to the report by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel that secured our services in 2008.

Absolutely nothing has changed in the intervening time except that there are now MORE vehicles on the routes to Oxford from Banbury, ongoing roadworks in and around North Oxford and a housing explosion that will provide homes for MANY MORE potential Horton users.

Members of KTHG attended a meeting organised by Victoria Prentis in November 2015 when David Smith, Chief Executive, Oxfordshire Clinical Commission Group (OCCG) said that there is resentment amongst the GPs in South Oxfordshire about the cost of funding the services that are now under threat. The OCCG now controls the budget which funds all medical services in the county including hospitals.

Our viewpoint is that when the cuts were referred to the Secretary of State for Health (Alan Johnson) in 2007/8, a large group of esteemed professionals from various walks of life painstakingly evaluated all of the evidence. Their judgement was crystal clear. "The IRP does not consider that (the proposals) would provide an acceptable or improved service for the people of North Oxfordshire and the surrounding area".

Whether the GPs in the south resent the amount spent in the north of the county, or not, does not alter the adjudication of 2008.

KTHG member, Charlotte Bird, met the former Secretary of State for Health two years ago. She told him he was a hero locally for the decision he took in 2008. He replied, "I didn't make the decision; I left it in the hands of the experts".

The OUHT want everything to be Oxford-centric which is simply not viable. There is a cast iron case for retaining full services at the Horton. Simply put, lives will be lost if women in labour have to be transferred from Banbury to Oxford for emergency caesareans. Young lives will be lost if seriously ill children have to be transferred to Oxford because we don't have a 24/7 paediatric service. And we all know how quickly children can go downhill when they are poorly.

So the question at stake is - money or lives?

Please let your GP (who is a member of OCCG) know how strongly you feel.

Wherever you live, copy your email/letter to Victoria Prentis, MP for Banbury: her email address is

If you are based in a neighbouring constituency, please email it to your own MP - email addresses below.

And don't forget to copy KTHG so we can log the number of messages sent. Our email address is


Email addresses for reference:

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


We've been delighted and encouraged by the many messages of support for the Horton General Hospital that have been left on our facebook page.

But did you know you can leave a review about your experience at the Horton General Hospital on the NHS Choices website?

According to NHS Choices, a whopping 100% of respondents said they would recommend the Horton's labour ward/birthing unit, and an impressive 92% of respondents said they would recommend the Horton's postnatal ward.

NHS Choices ratings for the Horton General Hospital maternity unit

Despite the overwhelming approval rating, only 8 of 14 people who wrote a review gave the consultant-led maternity unit a good report. The others - mainly anonymous - are less complimentary.

Might this bias put other women off using the Horton's consultant-led unit?

If you had a great experience at the Horton General Hospital's maternity unit, why not enter your review on the NHS Choices website so expectant mothers get a better idea of how people really feel about the service they get from the Horton. You can enter your review here.

When you've done it, why not use that as the basis of your letter to the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group care of your GP? (Remember - we really need you to write that letter!)


Consultant-led Maternity, SCBU, and 24/7 Children's Ward under threat once more

We understand that a meeting was held at the Horton General Hospital on the morning of Friday 3rd June to inform staff about the Trust's future plans for Banbury's consultant-led maternity unit.

The Trust claims the existing situation is unviable, and is proposing alternative solutions that would reduce the service to a midwife-led unit (i.e. no consultant support available on-site), with loss of special care baby unit and in all probability loss of the 24/7 Children's Ward.

It's only eight years since the Independent Reconfiguration Panel decreed that 28 miles / 1.5 hours in traffic was too far to travel, and that all these services must stay in Banbury in order to provide 150,000 people (and growing) with a safe, fair and accessible service.

KTHG is working hard on our response. We'll let you know via this website, our facebook group and via our email service if you have signed up to receive updates, but in the meantime, here's what you can do.

1) MOST IMPORTANT - write to the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group via your GP.

The GPs are in charge of commissioning services now, so they need to know what's important to us. Tell them how much we need the full services of a General Hospital in Banbury, and explain why. The cost and travel difficulties are key arguments; bad for all of us, but hitting lower income and disadvantaged families particularly hard. If you can illustrate your email or letter with a personal experience, that will make it more powerful. We need THOUSANDS of you to write so PLEASE do this.

2) Copy your GP email / letter to your MP.

The more that write, the more impact it will have.

3) If you have a facebook account, join our facebook group

Join the conversation and invite your friends to get involved too. Like and share messages you find interesting to help raise awareness. The more likes and shares we get, the more people see our posts.

4) Keep an eye out for any meetings or events that are being arranged.

Come and show your support. When we call on you, we'll need well-attended events to demonstrate that the people of Banbury and the surrounding area care about services at the Horton General Hospital.

5) If you are a member of staff, contact us in confidence if you have concerns.

We promise we will NOT reveal your identity but you must of course have regard to any contract you have signed.

6) If you are a patient or service user, we want to hear about your experience.

How would your experience have differed if you had been forced to use the JR instead of the Horton General Hospital? How would the cuts affect you and your family?

7) Can you spare the time to help with the campaign?

We're all ordinary people with jobs, families and health concerns, just like you. But we're stretched thin and we need more people to help us.

You can contact us at, by phone on 07740 599736 (leave a message if not answered immediately) or by messaging Katherine Wells (formerly known as Horton Campaigner) on facebook.


The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) is holding an invitation-only event at the Kassam Stadium in Oxford on Monday 6 June to seek the attendees' views on its five year Transformation Programme.

This plan is looking at new ways of delivering health and social care to improve the overall health of Oxfordshire's population, prevent people from getting ill, improve quality and make best use of health budgets. At the meeting, OCCG will reveal its initial ideas and ask for feedback from invited stakeholders representing health, social care, voluntary and community sectors. During the day stakeholders will consider the following areas as part of the plan: maternity and paediatrics, urgent and emergency care, elective, diagnostic and specialist care, mental health and learning disabilities.

We understand the OCCG would like three or four actual service users, "real people", to attend and share their perspective. If you are interested, please contact them using the links below.

For more information about Transformation go to the OCCG's Transformation page or email queries to


Keep the Horton General has been monitoring the impact of the ongoing road works to Oxford roundabouts, north of the city.

"We are aware that since recent changes were made to the traffic flow at the Cutteslowe roundabout, there has been a torrent of comment on Twitter about the delays. We have huge sympathy with the commuters who have to use this route on a daily basis. However we are particularly concerned about the potential for the death of a patient, conveyed by ambulance to the John Radcliffe hospital, being delayed en route," said Keith Strangwood, Chairman of KTHG.

This message from a driver was tweeted on Tuesday 19 April:- "As I drove to Kidlington this morning and stared in amazement at all the jams and traffic chaos I saw an ambulance absolutely stranded and desperately trying to get through it all. There was nowhere for anyone to move to, to give access. I really hope the person in need of that ambulance is ok, they were definitely going nowhere fast. It is an absolute disgrace."

Mr Strangwood issues an invitation to broadcasters. "I welcome the opportunity to speak live on-air to Mr Nimmo-Smith, responsible for roads within the Oxford City Council area, who previously told me on the Radio Oxford drivetime programme that ambulances were being given priority."

"As though this isn't bad enough, patients are now being sent JR appointment letters with the advice that they should 'allow at least an hour to find a parking space'. If ever there was a time that the Oxford University Hospitals Trust woke up to the fact that patients from the north of the county should be treated at the Horton General Hospital, this is it," he said.

The press release can be downloaded here: Oxford traffic chaos hinders ambulances (press release dated 25 April 2016)




Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, the organisation that decides which health services will be provided and who will provide them, has issued a stark warning that it will either have to pay less or provide less services in the next 12 months.

Central government cuts are forcing the OCCG to cut its spending by £22.4million, but it has only identified £9.1million of savings so far, leaving a £13m black hole.

The OCCG board is responsible for agreeing how to fund healthcare across the county including hospital care, community hospitals, end of life care, mental health services and ambulances. They pay for the county's NHS 111 non-emergency helpline, autism diagnosis centres, and physiotherapy services and have secured an agreement with NHS England to take on responsibility for primary care - such as GPs - with a £90m budget. OCCG contracts out services to organisations such as Oxford University Hospitals.

Direct cuts to services have not been ruled in or out, but the board pointed out there is a growing pressure for its services.

There are two meetings coming up at which the financial situation will be discussed. The first meeting is a single issue extraordinary OCCG Board meeting to discuss the budget.
Date: Thursday 21st April, 3.15pm to 4.30pm
Location: Jubilee House, Oxford Business Park, Oxford OX4 2LH

The second meeting is a normal OCCG Board Meeting at which the £13m hole in the budget is likely to be one of several items on the agenda.
Date: Thursday 26th May, from 9:00am to 12:45pm
Location: Banbury Town Hall

The OCCG Board meetings are held every other month and move around the county to facilitate contact with and participation by local people. The format of all OCCG board meetings, taken from their website, is as follows:

"At each meeting there is the opportunity for members of the public to ask questions related to the agenda items. Questions may be asked at the meeting during a 15 minute agenda slot.
OCCG will try to record questions posed as accurately as possible; however meetings and public questions are not recorded verbatim. As such (the OCCG) ask that the public also submit their question in writing in any of the following ways before the meeting:
- via email:
- via letter to the OCCG Business Manager at Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Jubilee House, Jubilee House, 5510 John Smith Drive, Oxford Business Park South, Cowley, Oxford, OX4 2LH
- hand a hard copy of your question to the OCCG Business Manager at the Board meeting.

Questions and responses will be posted on the OCCG website within 20 working days."

We can't stress enough how important it is for the public and local councillors to attend these meetings, or submit questions, if they can. This may be our last chance to influence decisions on which services are provided locally.


It is with great sadness that we post our latest update. Our campaigning colleague and great friend, Don Wilkes, lost his battle with heart disease on March 26th.

Don fought with us for more than ten years and was a constant advocate for action. He was a valuable member of the KTHG family and we will miss him very much.

I am sure you will join with us in sending our sincere condolences to his widow, Joyce.

Don Wilkes, KTHG campaigner 2005 - 2016

Don Wilkes, KTHG campaigner.


When? 7.15pm
Where? Banbury Town Hall

After decades of apparent neglect, it is extremely encouraging to hear that at last the Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust (OUHFT) is planning a major investment in buildings at the Horton.

It's great that fewer patients will need to travel to Oxford for their outpatient appointments - but we need to know that the price won't be the the downgrading of Critical Care and, despite the Trust's recently stated commitment to both services, the loss of consultant led Maternity and Paediatrics.

Members of the public will have the opportunity to question OUHFT Director of Planning and Information Andrew Stevens, who will be presenting the strategy at the Open Meeting of the North Oxfordshire Locality Group Patient Forum on Tuesday 22nd March at 7.15 pm at Banbury Town Hall.

All invited!


The Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust (OUHFT) have unveiled plans for a multi-million pound rebuild of the Horton General Hospital in the biggest infrastructure investment in Banbury for decades.

In the most ambitious proposal on the table, the hospital could be replaced by a £150 million, newly-built hospital at the centre of a huge health hub.

At the very least, the OUHFT say there will have to be a £55 million rebuild of the site's departments to make them fit for purpose, stating that "doing nothing is not an option".

The proposals revealed by Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust (OUHFT) at Tuesday's CPN are in their infancy and no single blueprint has been decided upon.

"There are specific issues about the Horton estate. It's impossible to develop it cost effectively," said Andrew Stevens, director of planning. "If we're spending £750,000 on a new CT scanner, for example, it's going to cost £3-£4 million more because the building is in such a poor condition."

Mr Stevens said a group of Oxfordshire's major healthcare planners had discussed possibilities for the Horton site at a special workshop last month. He said the OUHFTs new foundation trust status allows it to seek "innovative" forms of funding to pay for the building such as bank loans or partnerships. Land sale was also mentioned when the project was unveiled at the Community Partnership Network meeting in Banbury. Mr Stevens said there would be no funds from the shrinking NHS allowances.

Planning will involve looking at what frontline services would be in the new hospital. A current review of critical care has been put on hold until those services have been decided.

When asked if all existing acute services will remain, Mr Stevens said plans are for redevelopment of the Horton 'as it is'. However Paul Brennan, director of clinical services, warned of 'serious issues' around obstetrics, paediatrics and acute stroke care.

Mr Brennan said the timescale for the project was five to ten years.

Mr Stevens said predictions show daycase surgery and outpatient appointments at the Horton could be almost doubled, saving patients from the cost and inconvenience of travel, and relieving pressure on the Oxford hospitals. Taking input from Banburyshire stakeholders - members of the Community Partnership Network - the group will now try to develop plans into workable proposals by June.

The whole project will be discussed alongside Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group's new 'transformation plans' for health and social care provision for Oxfordshire's growing, ageing population.

Speaking to the Banbury Guardian, retired Horton consultant and KTHG campaigner Dr Peter Fisher said: "Plans appear positive, with emphasis on replacing buildings no longer fit for purpose, reducing the number of Banbury area patients needing to travel to Oxford and encouraging those from other areas, particularly Bicester, to look to Banbury rather than Oxford.

"However, at other points in the meeting there was discussion of staffing problems in paediatrics and obstetrics, in part due to national shortages. It will be important to remain vigilant and ensure ways are found to ensure that OUHFT maintains its stated commitment to continue fully both those services at the Horton."

Source: Banbury Guardian.


As services are temporarily, and in some cases permanently, removed from the Horton General Hospital, more and more patients are obliged to travel to Oxford for appointments and treatment.

KTHG has therefore decided to compile a log of journey times to and from the Oxford hospitals. If you travel from the Horton catchment area to one of the Oxford hospitals, we would be very grateful if you would email us with the following information:

  • Date
  • Starting point (postcode is sufficient)
  • Destination
  • Start time
  • Arrival time
  • Mileage
  • How you travelled (car / bus / train etc)
  • How long it took you to find a parking space

This exercise will enable us to compile a log of the difficulties patients, carers and visitors are experiencing.

Please email your information to our dedicated "travel times" email address:

To protect your online security, please do not leave responses on our facebook page. Thank you for any information you are able to provide.


Friday's announcement by Dr David Richards, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), that "up to 20% of England's 147 consultant-led units need to close due to a shortage of doctors" is potentially of concern to the Horton General Hospital (HGH).

Acknowledging that his controversial proposal would create "a public and political furore", Dr Richards said there should be a "big expansion in the number of midwife-led units".

Following an exhaustive enquiry 2006-8, the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) issued six rulings to ensure that full services were maintained at the HGH. Point 2 stipulated that 'The IRP does not support the Oxford Radcliffe Hospital's proposals to reconfigure services in paediatrics, obstetrics, gynaecology and the special care baby unit (SCBU) at Horton Hospital. The IRP does not consider that they will provide an accessible or improved service to the people of north Oxfordshire and surrounding areas'.

A recent statement by Andrew Stevens, Director of Planning and Information for the Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust (OUHFT), confirmed 'that the recent permanent appointment of two obstetrician consultants demonstrated an OUHFT commitment to continue the obstetrics service and the same commitment applies to the paediatrics service'.

Keep the Horton General Chairman, Keith Strangwood, welcomed the statement, remarking, "In principle absolutely nothing has changed since the IRP report. However the population is rapidly expanding, house building is booming and there is more traffic to clog up the route from Banbury to the Oxford hospitals. It is vital that our services are maintained for the people of Banburyshire to access with relative ease. Apart from anything else there is a widely acknowledged, acute, shortage of midwives. How does Dr Richards intend to staff these midwife led units?"


Over four months ago, upon news that major road works were to be undertaken on the Banbury side of Oxford with both the Wolvercote and Cutteslowe roundabouts affected, KTHG commented "... this news does not bode well for the paramedics and ambulance drivers who will undoubtedly be put under additional stress due to the traffic congestion."

Since then South Central Ambulance Services have been in the news on numerous occasions. Last month the Oxford Mail revealed CAS was struggling to fill 300 paramedic vacancies as well as 150 other frontline staff and had resorted to recruiting in Poland and Australia as well as the UK. In recent days it was announced that SCAS could face a £1m fine over its poor performance.

KTHG has every sympathy with these men and women on the front line. Since many inpatient services have been removed from the Horton General Hospital, Banburyshire patients rely heavily on SCAS to transport them to the Oxford hospitals.

The most recent withdrawal of inpatient beds is on E ward, which previously provided overnight accommodation for women who had undergone mastectomies, gynaecological procedures etc. The 'official line' from the OUHFT is that this is a temporary measure to counter the demands of bed blockers and winter emergencies.


Regarding the rumours that E-ward is to close; it now appears that the change of use of E Ward to daytime only is part of the recently published plan for dealing with Delayed Transfers of Care (patients medically fit to leave hospital but unable to do so for lack of social care arrangements.)

KTHG has concerns about some aspects of this plan, in particular the future care of patients currently looked after overnight in E Ward and will be pursuing these concerns at the meeting of the Community Partnership Network on 8th December (Bodicote House 09.30am, open to the public)


Following a recent meeting at the Horton hospital, organised and chaired by local MP Victoria Prentis, and attended by:

Victoria Prentis, MP for Banbury
Keith Strangwood, Chair Keep the Horton General
Peter Fisher, retired Consultant, Keep the Horton General
Charlotte Bird, Press ∧ Publicity, Keep the Horton General
Bruno Holthof, Chief Executive Oxford University Foundation Trust
Stuart Bell, Chief Executive Oxford Health
David Smith Chief Executive Oxford Clinical Commissioning Group
Will Hancock, Chief Executive South Central Ambulance Services
Andrew Stevens, Director of Planning and Information OUFT
Susan Brown, Senior Communications Manager OUFT
Anita Higham, OBE, Governor OUHT
Stephanie Garnett, Senior Parliamentary Asst to Victoria Prentis

Keith Strangwood expressed his optimism at the pledge made by new Chief Executive Bruno Holthof of his 'commitment to openly discuss options and consult.'

"The assembled group, who all have a vested interest in services at the Horton General Hospital, agreed to be forward looking and not dwell in the past" said Mr Strangwood. "Nevertheless the assurance by the new Chief Executive that any proposed alterations to services will be subject to consultation is a marked improvement on what has previously occurred. KTHG will be attending further meetings with this group and make a commitment to the people of Banburyshire that they will be keeping a keen eye on any developments, which will be communicated in full to the public through its website and Facebook page".


You may be aware of the report in today's (12/11/15) Banbury Guardian about a rumoured threat to obstetric services at the Horton General Hospital when a senior consultant retires next year.

KTHG were aware of the possible threat and indeed it was the opening and main subject of our meeting, at the Horton General Hospital, on Friday last week.

The attendees were:
Victoria Prentis MP, Chair
Bruno Holthof, CE OUFT
Stuart Bell, CE Oxford Health
David Smith, CE OCCG
Will Hancock, CE SCAS
Andrew Stevens Director of Planning and Information OUFT
Susan Brown Senior Communications Manager OUFT
Anita Higham Chair Oxfordshire North Locality Forum for Patient and Public Engagement in Health and Social Care
Stephanie Garnett (assistant to VP)
Keith Strangwood (KTHG)
Peter Fisher (KTHG)
Charlotte Bird (KTHG)

Rest assured we have been involved in asking questions and seeking to gain assurances that the service remains secure. Following the meeting the KTHG reps are optimistic about an ongoing, open, dialogue with all parties. We assure you of our continued attention to this matter, including additional meetings with relevant authorities to further discuss recent concerns.


NHS England is conducting a review of maternity services through an online survey and drop in events, one of which is in Oxford on the 14th October 2015. The following link will take you to the information which you may be interested in:

NHS England maternity review

Edit: here is a link to the online survey: NHS England maternity review online survey


The Keep the Horton General Campaign Group is extremely concerned that the level of maternity service that they and the people of Banbury fought so hard to preserve appears to be diminishing. Patients requiring treatments that were once available here now appear to be routinely transferred to Oxford. Questions will be asked of the Oxford University Hospitals Trust (OUHT), the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group and the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

We need to know:

1. If this is happening to more women than those who have already contacted us.

2. Who exactly is doing the pushing towards the JR. Naming names would be very helpful.

The OUHT will be making more use of the underutilized scanner at the Horton Treatment Centre (run by Ramsay Healthcare) from 9th September, but there are financial constraints and the service is apparently not suitable for all patients. Please let us know about your experiences.


The Keep the Horton General Campaign Group is concerned that services are gradually disappearing from the Horton, but very little is being gained in terms of extra facilities. If you know of any service that was available, but now requires a trip to Oxford, please let us know. Conversely, if anything is now available in Banbury that in the past has meant a journey to Oxford, please let us know.

In order to present an argument regarding the lack of facilities for patients with mental health issues in Banbury, we need to know how many there are, particularly in the case of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. Please let us know if you can help with this information.


In recognition of the large amount of new housing under-way and planned in Cherwell between now and 2030, the Community Partnership Network (CPN) will be attempting an assessment of health provisions in the area in the near future. This topic will be discussed for the whole of the CPN meeting on September 22nd at Cherwell District Council.

The meeting will start at 9.30am in the large meeting room on the first floor next to the Council Chamber. As with all CPN meetings, it is open to the public and those attending should have the opportunity to comment or question.


The KTHG committee is looking into the treatment, by the Oxford University Hospitals Trust (OUHT), in Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) and Urology disciplines.

It would be helpful to know the waiting times that patients are experiencing for ENT treatments and any problems in obtaining Urology appointments.


We are sorry to report that Banbury folk hero George Parish - the man who led the campaign to save services at Banbury's Horton General Hospital for 20 years - is being forced to Oxford for his long-term nursing home needs.

George Parish celebrates at the end of the 2008 campaign

George is suffering from Alzheimer's Disease and his family have been told there is no suitable care for him in Banbury.

Oxfordshire Social Services say they cannot provide a place for him in his home town. George's daughter-in-law, Maria, is liaising with the county council in a bid to keep him close to home as his wife does not drive.

"George is currently in Larkrise care home on Bretch Hill but they are unable to meet his needs. Several other homes have also assessed him and come to the same conclusion," said Mrs Parish. "I have done a lot of research on dementia and connecting with family is an important part of his social needs. He still talks about being 'Rock and Roll Mayor' and has chatted about past family occasions with family.

"He asks for his wife Sue regularly and if he were moved to Oxford these social needs would not be met as visiting would be limited. Sue has her own health issues which prevent her travelling too far. George dedicated much of his adult life to keeping health facilities in Banbury and I know local provision is a cause he would have championed. Last year he was awarded the freedom of the town for his hard work in the community and this year he is being forced out of the town he loves."

Keith Strangwood, chairman of Keep the Horton General (KTHG), said: "George's predicament again highlights a possible lack of services locally. Keeping services local is imperative for the future well being of north Oxfordshire health service users and what George has been fighting for for two decades. KTHG will be looking very closely into this at its regular meetings. We wish George and his family well."

What are your experiences of mental health provision in the Banbury area?

Email us on

Write to the Banbury Guardian -

(Banbury Guardian emails now go to a central department covering 6 to 8 papers - copy Roseanne Edwards on to ensure it gets seen)

Please note - deadline for BG letters page could be as soon as Monday 10th August


KTHG are currently looking into mental health provision issues in the Banbury area. We are interested in hearing from anyone who would like to share their experience (as a patient or relative / carer). You can contact us via - thank you.


Andrew Stevens, Director of Planning and Information at Oxford University Hospitals Trust, recently announced that all patients requiring endoscopy treatment will be required to travel to Oxford for the estimated four months that modernisation works are carried out at the Horton General Hospital.

Whilst this was generally applauded, the issue of patient transport has not been addressed. Keep the Horton General's Chairman, Keith Strangwood, speaking recently on BBC local news and radio, expressed concerns about the lack of co-ordination between agencies.

KTHG has learnt last weekend that, coinciding with the transfer of services to Oxford, major road works are being undertaken on the Banbury side of Oxford. Both the Wolvercote and Cutteslowe roundabouts are affected. Work is estimated to last for 16 months.

"I am absolutely astounded that the relevant departments at the OUHT, County Council and Health and Wellbeing Board did not consult with each other," said Mr Strangwood. "It would seem perfectly obvious to me that, if you are going to suspend services at one hospital and transfer that service to a hospital almost thirty miles away, you would make absolutely certain that the patients travelling from the north of the county stand a racing chance of being able to attend their appointments on time."

"On a general note, this news does not bode well for the paramedics and ambulance drivers who will undoubtedly be put under additional stress due to the traffic congestion. Let us hope that the emergency EGS patients being transferred from Banbury are done so safely and without loss of life,"he added.


Outgoing Editor of the Banbury Guardian, Jason Gibbins, has told Keep the Horton General (KTHG) in a letter prior to his departure to the BBC, that the proudest moment in his publishing career was being part of the successful campaign to save maternity and paediatric services at the Horton General Hospital in 2008.

He praised the work of George Parish, Banbury Guardian reporter Roseanne Edwards and KTHG. He said "both the hospital and the wider Banburyshire community are incredibly fortunate to have such a committed campaign team fighting its corner."

Following a recent meeting between KTHG Chairman Keith Strangwood, retired consultant Dr Peter Fisher and new MP Victoria Prentis, Mr Strangwood is encouraged by the MP's commitment to the group, to which she has pledged her support.

"Ms Prentis has said that she is keen to work with KTHG and strengthen its influence. Receiving Jason's message reinforces the message that professional people respect KTHG and the work it does. We will never rest on our laurels and continue to hold the Oxford University Hospital Trust to account," said Mr Strangwood.


Two members of Keep The Horton General recently attended a very constructive meeting with the new MP for the Banbury Constituency, Victoria Prentis.

The following useful suggestions were made:

  • that a formal complaint be made to the OUHT, regarding Keith Strangwood's below-standard treatment
  • group meetings would benefit from the regular attendance of a GP
  • contact should be made with the manager of Bicester Hospital

Victoria agreed to:

  • organise a meeting with Bruno Holthoff, the new Chief Executive of the OUHT who will take up his post in October 2015
  • provide a copy of a letter from Brussels giving assurance that Health would be excluded from TTIP

  • attend the next CPN meeting in September
  • read the KTHG dossier on Emergency Surgery


We need YOU to write to the Banbury Guardian and your MP - email addresses below

The chairman of Keep the Horton General, Keith Strangwood, has become the latest victim of Emergency Abdominal Surgery being withdrawn from the Horton General Hospital.

In January 2013 the Oxford University Hospitals Trust removed Emergency General Surgery from the Horton General Hospital without notice or consultation due to an "unexpected loss of surgeons on emergency rotas". The Banbury Guardian revealed that one surgeon had been dismissed and the other removed to other duties. It has subsequently been ruled by an Employment Tribunal that the surgeon was unfairly dismissed.

On 13 May this year, Keith Strangwood was admitted to the John Radcliffe hospital for emergency Hernia surgery. Despite arriving at 12.15pm on the Wednesday, Keith did not have his operation until 9am the following day. The reason for the nearly 21 hour delay was that only ONE operating theatre was available for emergency surgical conditions - and it was being shared with those patients requiring vascular (heart) surgery!

We believe the time is right to re-examine the whole issue of Emergency General Surgery, and to do that, we need your help.

To start things off we’re asking you to write a letter to the Banbury Guardian, as a result of this week’s front page story.

The address for letters to the Banbury Guardian is

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

We also recommend that you contact your MP, Victoria Prentis ( via or Andrea Leadsom ( and make her aware of your concerns and the ongoing ramifications of Emergency General Surgery being removed from the Horton.

Facts of the case:

- Emergency General Surgery was suspended from the Horton General Hospital in January 2013 due to the unlawful and wrongful dismissal of one surgeon and the removal of another to "other duties". The suspension of the service was subsequently made permanent on "safety grounds".

- The OUHT is supposed to hold a public consultation before making significant service changes. It did not do this. Following pressure from KTHG and others, held a public meeting at Rye Hill Golf Club in February 2014. It was attended by numerous members of the public who bore witness to the OUHT spin machine.

- The loss of Emergency General Surgery from the Horton General Hospital has resulted in significant hardship, time and cost to Banburyshire patients, relatives and helpers needing to travel to the JR for assessment or treatment.

- Lack of an effective, 24/7 assessment service at the Horton General Hospital has resulted in many needless trips to the JR.

- Anecdotal evidence indicates that the JR has been unable to cope with the influx of patients, and service levels are below the standards we should be able to expect.

- The term "Emergency Abdominal Surgery" was coined by the OUHT because they thought the public wouldn’t understand "Emergency General Surgery". You can use either term. It covers a wide range of procedures, from appendix removals, ruptured and strangulated hernia operations through to lancing abscesses on bottoms!

(Link for the July 2014 article re the Employment Tribunal’s decision that the surgeon had been unfairly dismissed)


Whether you are feeling elated or let down by the general election news, here is an opportunity for you to really influence something that matters - GP and health and social services in North Oxfordshire.

The North Oxfordshire Locality Forum (a group who represent Patient Participation Groups at their GP surgeries in the north of the county) are holding a ‘question time’ forum to give members of the public the chance to hear about future plans and then ask questions of the panel.

Where: St John the Evangelist Church, The Dupuis Centre, South Bar, Banbury, OX16 9AF

When: Tuesday 12 May 2014, 7.15pm – 9pm


Keep the Horton General invite you to question the local parliamentary candidates:

Dickie Bird, UKIP
Roseanne Edwards, National Health Action Party
John Howson, Liberal Democrats
Ian Middleton, Green Party
Victoria Prentis, Conservative
Sean Woodcock, Labour

Where? St Mary's Church, Banbury
When? Thursday 16 April, 6.00 - 8.30 pm

The topic for debate is the NHS and in particular each candidate’s personal plans for the Horton General Hospital. Candidates will address the meeting, question the other candidates, and take questions from the public.

Chaired by Anita Higham OBE
Organised by Keep the Horton General

KTHG hustings poster 16 April 2015

Thanks to Kate Spencer for the donation of graphic design services.


Healthwatch Oxfordshire - an independent organisation created to listen to your views on health and social care in Oxfordshire - wants to hear from you about your experience of being discharged from hospital.

You can talk to them:
- while you are in hospital
- after you have been discharged, at home if you like
- or you can complete their online survey at


Banbury Town Hall, 6.30pm on Monday 24 February

Don’t you just wish you could tell someone how important it is to keep our services at the Horton General Hospital? Someone that the trust actually has to listen to?

Well, now you can!


The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent health and social care regulator for England. They inspect NHS organisations to check that staff and services are meeting legal standards laid down by law and then they make their findings public.

What will happen?

A large team, made of up of around 60 inspectors, will inspect the OUH’s four hospital sites from Tuesday 25 February. The inspectors are likely to be here for two days but they can then come back any time, unannounced, for spot checks over the following two weeks.

I want to talk to them! How do I get involved?

Just turn up at one of their listening events. There will be people sitting at tables waiting to talk to you!

Banbury’s will be at Banbury Town Hall, on 6.30pm on Monday 24 February

Oxford’s will be at Oxford Town Hall, also on 6.30pm on Monday 24 February

Or contact them at any time:

  • Online:
  • Email:
  • Post: CQC, Citygate, Gallowgate, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4PA
  • Phone: 03000 61 61 61

If you’ve got something to say, to someone who wants to listen - THIS IS YOUR OPPORTUNITY!


It was pleasing to see the hall full of supporters despite the dreadful weather, blocked roads, complete lack of signage, inappropriate location and registration hurdles!

The two-and-a-half hour meeting was packed with information, questions and answers which will take us a while to go through. While we come up with our definitive statement, you can:

  • check out the Banbury Guardian’s report or
  • read out blow-by-blow account, tweeted live from the scene, on twitter (twitter handle @savethehorton )
  • at long last, here is a link to the trust's video of the meeting - one that actually works


The trust has told some people who registered today that the venue is now full, so they will not be admitted to the meeting, but will instead be put on a reserve list.

Our advice is, IF YOU HAVE NOT REGISTERED DIRECTLY, PLEASE DO SO IMMEDIATELY to give yourself the best possible chance of being admitted if other people do not turn up.

For those of you who are on the reserve list, and for anyone who has not registered directly with Caroline Rouse, we urge you to ATTEND ANYWAY to make the point that it is a public meeting.

However, if you have not registered AND you are unwell or expect to suffer undue hardship getting there, please take the likelihood of non-admittance into account when deciding whether or not to make the trip.

Join our facebook group Save Our Horton to have your say - this is a hot topic right now!

Come and say hello

The campaigners will be wearing Keep the Horton General t-shirts at the meeting on Wednesday, come and say hello!


Wednesday 5 February 2014 6pm - 8.15pm

We were notified today, exactly eight days prior to the desperately important meeting about the withdrawal of Emergency Abdominal Surgery, that the "meeting in Banbury" will actually be held at Rye Hill Golf Club, Milcombe - a venue some 6 miles from Banbury with no public transport links to anywhere.

Our own enquiries indicated that St Mary’s, the obvious venue, is available on that date. However, the trust say they have an email that states otherwise, so there is clearly some confusion here which at the time of writing remains unresolved.

Nonetheless, it is widely agreed that the venue choice is a poor one. There are several areas of high deprivation in Banbury where many of the residents do not own their own transport. At a single stroke, the OUHT and OCCG have denied all those people a chance to have their say about the future of their hospital (unless they are prepared to take the chance that they will get a space on the first-come first-served coach that the OUHT/OCCG have laid on). The venue choice will also create a significant barrier to others, who will be reluctant to drive across town to an unfamiliar location in poor weather, or those who would have come along to the meeting when their shift finished had it been held in town.

This is in addition to the barrier presented by the requirement to register. (You can register by calling the trust's representaive Caroline Rouse on 01865 231472 or emailing

We will endeavour to ensure that the people of Banburyshire have the opportunity to have their say, in the face of this additional obstacle and will let you know further developments asap.

Bus details

From the trust’s press release:

"As there is no public transport to this venue we have made arrangements with a local coach company, Cheney Travel, to provide a coach from Banbury Cross to the venue and back again for anyone who is unable to get there by private car.

The coach will wait at Banbury Cross from 5pm and then leave promptly at 5.30pm in order to reach the venue in time for the meeting. Places on the coach do not need to be booked but will be allocated on a first come first served basis. The coach will then leave the golf club at 8.30pm and return to Banbury Cross"

We understand the bus has seats for 53 people.


Public meeting 5 February 2014


Emergency abdominal surgery was removed from the Horton without any warning exactly a year ago. The Oxford University Hospitals Trust promised us all a public consultation - but this failed to materialise.

Due to an impassioned presentation by Keep the Horton General chairman, Keith Strangwood, to the Health and Overview Scrutiny Committee in Oxford last month, it was agreed that there would be a public meeting.

The trust’s Public Event will be held in Banbury on Wednesday 5 February 2014 from 6pm-8.15pm. They haven't advised the venue yet.

This will be an opportunity for local people to give their views on the kinds of outpatient clinics and day surgery they would like to see brought to the Horton from the hospitals in Oxford, as well as to discuss the issue of emergency abdominal surgery on the Horton General Hospital site.

This is your opportunity to make your thoughts and experiences known at a public forum. Please come, and also tell anyone who is a potential Horton user. Join us and have your say!

IMPORTANT: you need to register to attend but don’t let this put you off - all you have to do is email ("I am coming to the meeting in Banbury on 5 Feb" will do) or call 01865 231472.

Press release Jan 14 - Public Meeting

Summary of our statement to the Oxfordshire Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee

As the Oxford University Hospital Trust has failed to carry out the legally required consultation process re loss of a major service from the Horton, we asked that the matter be referred to the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, for his consideration. The referral to the Secretary of State for Health was proposed and seconded by Cllr Sibley and Cllr Pete Handley.

Following debate, it was agreed that that a public meeting would take place early 2014, in Banbury, in regards to loss of services at the Horton. The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (the group who decides which services are provided and by whom) will feed back the input from that consultation to a Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting, scheduled for 27th February 2014, for their consideration.

North Oxfordshire lost its representation on the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee at the last local elections, and our efforts to rectify the situation since then have been unsuccessful. The lack of a North Oxfordshire voice was very clear during the debate, and this has spurred us on in our efforts to get a Keep the Horton General campaigner co-opted onto the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee at the next opportunity, likely to be Jan/Feb 14.

Do you want a say in how Oxfordshire’s health services are run?

The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (the group which decides which services are purchased and provided) is holding a meeting at Banbury Cricket Club on 3 December 2013.

If you want to have a say in what is going on in your health service, you’ll want to be there!

IMPORTANT : please note that you have to formally ask to attend (see the OCCG’s message, below) Don’t be put off if you want to go! There will be lots of Keep the Horton General members there to keep you company.

Here’s the OCCG’s message in full:

Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group Our Strategic Direction: 2013 - 2018

You’ve been invited to participate in the Our Strategic Direction: 2013 - 2018 consultation by the consultation manager, Julia Stackhouse.

Our Strategic Direction: 2013 - 2018, describes our views about the challenges the NHS in Oxfordshire faces over the next five years, and the emerging strategy to deal with these issues. The purpose of this document is to enable a debate with our partners, staff, people who use our services and live in Oxfordshire about what needs to do to be done to address these issues, and how the local NHS should work together to deliver the changes required.

OCCG wants to ask you if the opportunities identified in our strategy will help to address the challenges in Oxfordshire. Your views on how you can help us to achieve and maintain financial stability in Oxfordshire, are really important. To participate in this debate you can:

  • Download the document which sets out OCCGs’ Strategic Direction: 2013 - 2018 and send your comments in to us by using the following url:
  • Answer our online survey:
  • Participate in our discussion forum:
  • Attend a public meeting to discuss your ideas and hear the views of others:
  • Wantage, 19 November, 1pm - 5pm
  • Witney, 20 November, 6.30pm - 9.30pm
  • Oxford, 21 November, 9am - 12pm
  • Banbury, 3 December, 1pm - 5pm
  • Bicester, 5 December, 9am - 1pm
  • Wallingford, 19 December, 9am - 1pm

For further information about the events or to book a place to attend, please contact 01865 334638 or email

(Please note, if you haven’t used Talking Health before you will need to complete the registration form first)

If you would like to book to attend any of the events, or would like to request hard copies of the survey, please contact us at or phone 01865 334638. We would also encourage you to share this information above with other contacts or organisations that you think would like to get involved.

Lobbying pays off!

Months of tenacious lobbying has paid off - we’re delighted to say that, at last, the Horton situation is going to be discussed at the next meeting of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

Why is that important?

The Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee is the ONLY group who can refer this to the Secretary of State for Health. In the last campaign, this referral was a vital step in overturning plans to axe obstetrics and paediatrics.

So this is really good news!

Keith Strangwood praised the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee chairman, Councillor Lawrie Stratford, for agreeing to take this issue on. "We’re confident that he will ensure the Horton Hospital concerns are thoroughly scrutinised," he said. "The OUHT can’t be allowed to get away with using the Royal College of Surgeons report to justify the removal all Emergency General Surgery from the Horton General Hospital, when the report supports no such thing."

The RCS report was at the centre of the decision to axe Emergency General Surgery and was finally released in late August, after months of pressure and investigation by the Keep the Horton General campaign. The Trust had done nothing to correct the misconception that the report supported the removal of all Emergency General Surgery, and the long delay in releasing the report added to the confusion.

The report, when finally released, was found to be much narrower in scope, and related to only one single type of operation, laparoscopic cholecystectomies, not the whole of Emergency General Surgery.

Keep the Horton General will continue to lobby other influential groups and individuals who were misled by the Trust’s misrepresentation of the contents of the Royal College of Surgeons report.

Why was Emergency Abdominal Surgery removed? OUHT to face public questioning

Are you interested in hearing the OUHT’s justification for the sudden removal of Emergency Abdominal Surgery from the Horton?

The Community Partnership Network is meeting at Cherwell District Council at 10am on Tuesday 10 September 2013. For the first time, the OUHT will face public questioning about the recently-released, redacted Royal College of Surgeons’ report. This report was widely thought to have suggested the removal of Emergency Abdominal Surgery - but it didn’t!

KTHG will be there in force and will be asking some searching questions. If you want your voice heard, or simply want to hear what the OUHT have got to say in response, please join us. All welcome.

Where is the meeting?

Cherwell District Council’s offices in Bodicote.

What time?

10.00 am on Tuesday 10th September 2013

You’re sure I’m invited?


A new way to contact Keep the Horton General

You can now contact Keep the Horton General by phone. Call us on 07740 599736 and leave a message if not answered immediately. We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

Of course you can still email or message Horton Campaigner on Facebook, if you prefer.

OCCG to meet in Banbury, 25 July 2013

The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group are the people who decide which NHS services are commissioned (i.e. which services are funded and provided). They are holding a Meeting in Public at Banbury Cricket Club in Bodicote, from 9.30 to 12.30 on Thursday 25th July.

The public is allocated a 15 minute slot for questions related to the agenda items. Questions should be submitted in advance by one of these methods:


Write to:
The OCCG Business Manager
Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group
Jubilee House
5510 John Smith Drive
Oxford Business Park

Or hand a hard copy of your question to the OCCG Business Manager at the meeting.

Where is the meeting?

Banbury Cricket Club in Bodicote.

What time?

9.30am to 12.30 on Thursday 25 July 2013

You’re sure I’m invited?


New chairman for Keep the Horton General

Following an excellent day at the Banbury Show (Sunday 9 June 2013) promoting the work of Keep the Horton General campaign and meeting hundreds of interested local residents, we are delighted to confirm the appointment of Keith Strangwood as Chairman.

Former local councillor Keith has a wealth of contacts both amongst members of the public and through his work with local and county councils. His depth of knowledge of local affairs will undoubtedly be a major asset to the campaign.

Acting Chair, Charlotte Bird, now Vice Chair says "The campaign group is extremely fortunate to have a person of the calibre of Keith Strangwood taking over the role of Chair left vacant after the retirement of George Parish. We will become a stronger group as a result. George, Honorary Chairman, is still very much the figurehead of the campaign group as was proved on Sunday when he found himself being mobbed during his visit to the KTHG stand."

Newly appointed Chairman Keith is enthusiastic about his new role.

"It has been a privilege and pleasure to work alongside George and all the members of the KTHG .We are all volunteers who give up our time and work as a team to ensure our much loved Horton General Hospital retains all its needed services. There is nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer, as they will not stop until the job is done. The KTHG is a huge heart that is working for all the Horton staff and users. I thank the members for appointing me as Chairman and would like to thank all of its current members and past members for keeping the group united in its cause".

Press release 17 June 2013

New email address

We must confess we were a bit puzzled when Sir Jonathan Michael criticised us for saying there was a crisis, because we thought we’d been careful not to say that - just to spell out where there were proposals for change. Then we worked it out.

We were still using the "hortoncrisis" email address.

This was the email address we used during the maternity / paediatrics campaign a few years ago, which most people agree was indeed a crisis. We just carried on using the email address without any thought.

Cue some frantic revision of all our publicity material ready for the Banbury Show on Sunday 9th June! We owe a huge thank you to Mark at Buzz Design and Kevin at Colourburst, who put together the new graphics and printed the flyers and carstickers in record time. Absolutely fantastic service. Thank you so much, Mark and Kevin.

Our new email address is but the old one will keep working for a while so we don’t miss anything important.

Please note:

Monday 3 June 2013 is NOT a public meeting

Please note the error made by the Banbury Cake in their article dated 30 May 2013. The meeting between KTHG and the OUHT on Monday 3 June is NOT a public meeting.

CPN Meeting -

Tuesday 11 June 2013 IS a public meeting

Members of the public ARE invited to attend the meeting of the Community Partnership Network (CPN) on 11 June. There should be the opportunity to ask questions of the OUHT. However please note that public attendance is limited by the available space, and due to time there may not be the opportunity for all attendees to ask their question. If you’re thinking of coming it would be great if you could let us know so we have an idea of numbers.

What is it?

The CPN is a forum where representatives of all the groups with an interest in the Horton General Hospital can talk through proposals with the OUHT. We have two members.

Where is the meeting?

Cherwell District Council’s offices in Bodicote.

What time?

10am on Tuesday 11 June 2013

You’re sure I’m invited?


A statement from Keep the Horton General regarding "crisis" allegations

In response to Sir Jonathan Michael’s letter of 1 May 2013 to Sir Tony Baldry, in which he wrote "I very much share your frustrations about the manner in which the Banbury Guardian and the Keep the Horton General group are seeking to give the impression that there is some form of crisis at the Horton", Keep the Horton General made the following statement.

"The only Horton 'crisis' we are aware of was the one announced by the OUH on the 16th January.

At an emergency meeting of the Community Partnership Network (CPN) we were told that due to the sudden and unforeseen absence of several surgeons it was no longer possible to carry out Emergency Abdominal Surgery at the Horton and all patients requiring this would have to be sent to Oxford.

What was not made clear at the time was that this did not mean just those found to need urgent operation (on average 5 per week) but all those needing assessment for possible surgery, amounting to 4 times that number. There was reference to a specially commissioned report by the Royal College of Surgeons declaring the Horton service to be unsafe but whether this was due to shortage of staff, lack of appropriate skills or other factors is unknown to us as no details of the report have ever been released, despite numerous requests. It has now been stated that a redacted version will be made available 'in due course'

Whatever the problem may have been, it has been made plain that the Trust does not intend to correct it. This means not only that for the foreseeable future all patients with possible abdominal emergencies will have to be assessed in Oxford but there are further potential consequences not only for the surgical service but for others, including the admission of medical emergencies.

This is a major source of concern to us and the reason we have continued to seek clarification of the long term plans for the Horton. We are told that the change is 'in line with modern medical practice'. If this is so it must be affecting other hospitals of the size of the Horton so we asked at the January meeting for examples from elsewhere. No such evidence has yet been forthcoming so we are carrying out our own investigations.

Despite all the above, the Trust intends to include this transfer of emergency abdominal surgery in a formal 3 month consultation. This has been postponed twice, initially to late May to avoid clashing with the Local Elections and now until December, apparently to give the Clinical Commissioning Group time to prepare, although papers to the Group’s March Board meeting implied it was ready for a start in May. In any case, there must be a question mark over the validity of a consultation when the decision has already been taken.

There have been changes in several other Horton Services, sometimes after notification that a review was taking place, allowing opportunity for comment, in others, like Radiology, they appear to have taken place without any notice to the CPN . Even where we have been aware of an ongoing review, it has been difficult to get information on how it is progressing and final decisions have sometimes been announced in very general terms, capable of different interpretations.

It has now been agreed that the Trust will provide answers to a series of questions we have submitted and senior staff will attend a meeting of KTHG on 3rd June to discuss those answers. The questions and answers will then be reported to a meeting of CPN on 11th June which will be open to members of the public who will then have the opportunity to make their own judgment on whether KTHG has been acting in their best interests."

Response to comments by OUHT chief executive Sir Jonathan Michael

Well, it seems we’ve hit a bit of a bump.

BG front page 16 05 2013

In a letter to Sir Tony Baldry, OUHT Chief Executive Sir Jonathan Michael bemoaned the fact that OUHT staff are spending "a great deal of time" responding to questions from the Banbury Guardian and Keep the Horton General; and that our campaign risked undermining public confidence in the Horton, which he said "could result in precisely the scenario which the campaigners are saying they are seeking to avoid". He also went to some lengths to try to explain how removal of various services does not actually constitute a threat.

Keep The Horton General and the Banbury Guardian think it’s important to ask questions about services at the Horton General Hospital, particularly when those services are removed without consultation or full explanation, and when we can’t get clear answers to straightforward questions about the futures of other services on which a District General Hospital depends.

We’ve put a lot of effort into defending our hospital against those who would prefer to see as many services as possible transferred to Oxford, so we think it’s unfair to suggest that we are responsible for undermining public confidence, when all we are doing is bringing the proposals to the public’s attention. As the Banbury Guardian says in its headline: "Don’t shoot the messenger!"

Acting Chair Charlotte Bird responded to Sir Jonathan’s letter with this message;

"The aim of the Keep The Horton General Campaign is to ensure that the full quality services of a District General Hospital are retained at the Horton, in order to serve the rapidly growing population of Banburyshire.

In doing so, it is important to maintain a dialogue with the decision makers. It is often necessary to clarify certain points either where there is ambiguity, or where detailed information is lacking, or where patients have informed us that the system is not working as anticipated.

We are disappointed that the Chief Executive of the OUHT is frustrated at our attempts to communicate with the Trust and with the public.

As a group, we would be delighted to stop giving up thousands of hours of our free time to defend our services, if the OUHT would guarantee that they will be retained at the Horton General Hospital, and back this up by actually doing it. We maintain that in the absence of such assurances, we have correctly alerted the public to the fact that changes have occurred and are being proposed.

Here’s what we need you to do

Last time services were threatened, the opinions of the GPs were instrumental in helping the Independent Reconfiguration Panel reach their decision to retain paediatrics and obstetrics at the Horton General Hospital.

The GPs are in charge of commissioning services now (ie deciding which services and treatments will be funded and by whom).

We need you to WRITE TO YOUR GP, RIGHT NOW so he or she understands how important it is to keep Emergency Abdominal Surgery, and the full services of a District General Hospital, at the Horton.

Tell them how stressful it is to get to the JR, and how much it costs you in time and money. If you’ve been sent to the JR for treatment, make sure they know how long it took to be seen, how long you spent on a trolley, how long you waited for medication, how you got there and back, how much inconvenience you and your relatives suffered.

3,000 of you wrote last time, and it made a difference. Let’s make a difference again.

What’s going on?

Right now, we’re facing several threats.

Emergency Abdominal Surgery (eg gallbladder operations, appendicitis, pancreatitis, diverticulitis) was suspended without notice back in January due to sudden loss of consultant surgeons. The stated plan was to transfer people needing Emergency Abdominal Surgery to the John Radcliffe in Oxford; about 5 people per week. However, in practice, a much greater number are being transferred, because the initial assessment is not being done in Banbury.

In many cases, patients are being asked to make their own way there. This takes up to 1.5 hours each way by car, or 3 hours each way by public transport (up to 5.5 hours from villages). Furthermore, patients are experiencing horrendous waits when they get to the JR. One person was shuffled back and forth between the hospitals, suffering a wait of 54 hours between admission and being seen by a doctor on the ward. Another waited 20 hours on a trolley before being given a bed.

Other potential threats include radiology and pharmacy, which are vital support services that enable the hospital to function properly 24/7. We’re worried about the domino effect on other services.

There are inexplicable plans to replace the self-contained Special Care Baby Unit with cots at the mothers’ bedsides in the general ante-natal ward.

And last but most worrying, there is also a wide-ranging consultation which will consult on making the Emergency Abdominal Surgerychanges permanent. This was due to start sometime in the summer, but has now been delayed. However, we are concerned that this decision may have already been taken, as it has been stated that the missing surgeons at the Horton General Hospital will not be replaced.

What are we doing about it?

Right now, we’re doing a lot of work behind the scenes trying to get to the bottom of what’s going on and who is actually of influence. There’s no Independent Reconfiguration Panel to see sense this time, so it isn’t clear-cut.

What can I do?

You can help by:

1) Joining our facebook group Save Our Horton. Invite your friends to join so we can contact all our supporters instantly, in our own words. Go to Save Our Horton and use the box in the top right to add your friends. Please share messages and images you find interesting on your timeline to help raise awareness.

2) If you are a member of staff, contact us in confidence to tell us about your concerns. Are you worried about patient safety, service changes, your own working conditions, or anything else? If you have concerns, do you know how to escalate them? We promise we will NOT reveal your identity.

3) If you are a patient, we want to hear about your experience. How long did you have to wait? Did anything go wrong? How did the fact that you were in the JR instead of the Horton impact you and your family?

4) Tell your GP. The government’s forced them to take charge of commissioning (deciding how the money is spent) so they need to know our priorities. If they don’t know things are going wrong, they can’t act.

5) Can you help with the campaign? We need you! Our previous campaign was a hugely successful mix of personalities and skills; public speakers, NHS insiders, web/graphic designers, signature collectors, minute takers, good organisers, report writers and number crunchers. Whatever your skills, we need you.

Please email us at or message Horton Campaigner on Facebook.

Thank you for caring about our hospital.

Together, let’s make sure we get the service we’re supposed to have.

Community Partnership Network meeting

5 March 2013

Campaigners from Keep the Horton General (aka Save Our Horton) will be attending the Community Partnership Network (CPN) meeting on Tues 5 March.

Topics for discussion are Emergency Abdominal Surgery, proposed changes to SCBU & pharmacy services, and the forthcoming consultation on the future of the Horton General Hospital. We’re hoping to raise a lot of currently unanswered questions and also communicate the rising levels of concern in the community.

What is the CPN? The CPN brings together representatives from all the groups that have declared an interest in health services in Banbury. We have two representatives on the CPN. In theory, the Oxford University Hospitals Trust has to run all proposed service changes past the CPN, and take the CPN’s view into account when making decisions..

Surgeons Removed from Horton Posts

February 2013

The Banbury Guardian has revealed that the reason for the suspension of emergency surgery at the Horton General Hospital was due to the removal of two surgeons from their posts. One was dismissed and the other removed to "other duties". When asked why, the Oxford University Hospitals Trust refused to comment.

Although we were initially advised that this move would affect only around 5 patients per week, commenters on our facebook group tell us that the impact has been much greater. Some patients were told to make their own way to the John Radcliffe, 29 miles away, where it took up to 17 hours to be seen.

We don’t think this is acceptable and are asking people to tell us of their experiences to help us decide an appropriate response. Please email to tell us about your experience.

Emergency Surgery Supended at the Horton General Hospital

January 2013

Emergency surgery for cases such as appendicitis or bowel and gallbladder problems is being suspended at the Horton General Hospital from Friday 18 January 2013.

In a move that has shocked staff and campaigners by its speed, the Oxford University Hospitals Trust (OUH) hastily told Horton staff and the community partnership network of stakeholders in confidential meetings yesterday (Wednesday) morning. Unions have questioned the immediate suspension of emergency abdominal surgery without public consultation, which is required for major service changes at hospitals.

But the trust says it has been forced into the move because of an ‘unexpected’ loss of surgeons on emergency rotas which cannot be covered by Oxford specialists without affecting their work at the John Radcliffe. “There are no longer sufficient numbers of consultants in the emergency surgical team at the Horton to secure a safe service for patients,” the OUH said in yesterday’s statement.

“Therefore the trust has taken a decision to suspend emergency abdominal surgery at the Horton General Hospital and transfer such surgery to the John Radcliffe from Friday,” its statement said. Paul Brennan, director of clinical services, would not expand on the reason for the shortage of consultants.

However he did say if colleagues from the JR were brought in to cover the shortage at the Horton it would impact on the care of Oxford patients and too many positions had been vacated to be filled by locums.

He said: “We do strongly believe emergency surgery should be rationalised but we didn’t want to be in the position where we are taking action in advance of the consultation.”

Trust bosses say the move will still form part of a three-month public consultation for a Vision for the Horton which begins in March.

GPs have already been told to refer suspected abdominal emergency cases to the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford instead of the Horton and ambulance crews will take such patients directly to the Headington site.

The OUH said the change affects an average of only five cases a week. Freeing surgeons from emergencies would allow them to perform more routine abdominal surgery at the Horton.

They rejected fears of a knock-on effect on other emergency services such as A&E in cases such as traffic or sporting accidents if ambulance crews suspect internal damage to organs such as the spleen.

A trust officer said paramedics would be told to take patients with suspected internal injuries straight to the JR, as is the current situation.

Unconfirmed cases would be taken to the Horton for assessment and stabilisation and only if internal injury were confirmed would they be taken by blue light to Oxford. A second surgeon from Oxford would attend the Horton to assist with patients too badly injured to be moved.

She said trauma services would not be affected and operating theatres will continue to be open and staffed night and day.

In its statement the OUH wrapped up the suspension of emergency abdominal surgery with news that it plans a £1m upgrade to outpatients, has secured maternity and paediatric services using enhanced consultant rotas, is expanding day case surgery and is also committed to securing A&E services with these, into the future.

Charlotte Bird, acting chairman of the Keep the Horton General Campaign said: “It’s too early to say much as we haven’t analysed the statement but is this the thin end of the wedge? Will we get the service back? Is the OUH likely to reinstate this emergency surgery if it’s already been taken on by the JR for five months?”

Proposed changes to SCBU

January 2013

We want to understand how the potential changes to SCBU would affect users.

If you have used the Horton SCBU or post natal ward, we would like to hear about your experience, and in particular, how you feel it would have been different if SCBU had been merged in with the post-natal ward. What would your concerns be?

If you would like to contribute, please email your response to

(Please note - it is possible that, IF this proposal goes any further, we might wish to share your response with the Trust to help them understand how their decision would affect people on a personal level. If you would like your submission to remain anonymous, please write KEEP ANONYMOUS in the subject line)

Thank you.

We need you!

December 2012

Are you worried and frustrated about current threats to the Horton General Hospital?

Would you like to do more to help?

KTHG are in need of positive, committed people who want to make a difference. At the height of a campaign, we meet about once a week to talk through developments and plan how to respond. We need to get a few more people on board as soon as we can, so you can get up to speed while the volume of information is still manageable. The best campaigns involve a mix of personalities and skills; the only requirement is that you are a team-player.

Email if you want to get more involved.

Proposed changes to SCBU

December 2012

We are keeping a close eye on the proposed changes in the way SCBU operates, and have asked for a detailed report on the options being looked at before the next meeting of the Community Partnership Network in March. We have been given written assurance that whatever change might be made, there will continue to be the same level of SCBU provision at the Horton.

Trust seeks Foundation Status

June 2012

The Oxford Univeristy Hospitals Trust (OUH) is beginning a consultation to become a Foundation Trust, a move which would see it getting more control over its own finances, and which it must complete by late 2013.

Management argue that this will give the public more say in their services, but unions argue that it leads to unhealthy competition between hospitals.

Banbury’s public consultation is to be held on Tuesday July 24th, from 2.00 until 3.30pm at St Mary’s Church.

Budget cuts may threaten Horton jobs

June 2012

A local newspaper has revealed that the Oxford Univeristy Hospitals Trust (OUH) could be forced to make £160m savings over four years as part of the government’s drive to slash £20bn from the NHS budget. OUH Chief Executive Sir Jonathan Michael said that £49m savings (5% of total budget) must be found in the first year. Plans are in the early stages so it is not yet possible to say which services may be threatened as a result.

Strategic Health Authority review threatens maternity services

June 2012

We have learned of a potential new threat to obstetrics (doctor-led maternity) at the Horton General Hospital. It is possible that all six obstetric trainee posts may be abolished by August 2014, leaving the Horton as a midwife-led unit.

This is due to a review by the South Central Strategic Health Authority, which says that the number of births at the Horton is too low; and a decrease in the number of trainees across the NHS in general.

Last time we faced this threat, midwives, local GPs and the Independent Reconfiguration Panel agreed that the JR is too far for women in labour to travel. They agreed that moving doctor-led maternity to Oxford would leave women in the Banbury area with an unsafe service. Furthermore, the government states that women are supposed to be given a choice of home birth, midwife-led or consultant-led delivery. This is difficult if there is no consultant unit within 25 miles.

Of course, there are a lot of people working hard to find a solution. But in the current climate, this isn’t going to be easy. So how can you help?

1) Any increase in the number of births at the Horton General Hospital will help. It is important that expectant mums know that THEY can choose where to give birth, and that they do not have to follow their doctor’s recommendations (although obviously this is wise where safety is concerned). The more relaxed, "family" environment offered by the Horton is available to all women, including those living in Kidlington, Bicester or even Oxford itself.

Do you know anyone who is expecting? Perhaps someone who has simply assumed that they will use the JR without giving the other options any thought? Please tell them that the Horton offers an easily accessible service, in a relaxed, family atmosphere, with full consultant support in the unit. Encourage them to visit the Horton and the JR and experience the difference for themselves.

2) Please join our Save Our Horton facebook group and encourage your friends to do the same. Becoming "friends" with Horton Campaigner means we can contact as many people as possible, right when we need to.

The Horton - under threat again.......

August 2011

Keep the Horton General Campaigners were disappointed to learn that the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals Trust (ORHT) is pressing ahead plans to end the Horton Hospital’s dedicated gynaecology ward. Banbury gynaecology ward (G-Ward), where specialist nurses care for women having operations, suffering miscarriages, post-childbirth problems, haemorrhages and other problems, will end its overnight care this month. The ward will become a daycase unit for minor operations and patients needing to stay will be put in E Ward, a mixed surgical ward.

G-Ward staff were told of the plan as school holidays began at the end of July. In spite of staff and union rep absences they drew up a paper citing potential problems with the changes and presented an alternative plan, allowing the ward to stay open fully from Monday to Friday.

Last Wednesday, Keep the Horton General (KTHG) campaigners and other stakeholders attended a packed meeting with senior representatives of the ORHT. KTHG vice chair Charlotte Bird said, “We were lead to believe the ORHT proposals were not set in stone and the counter proposals would be discussed at a meeting attended by management and the Banbury staff last Friday. One nurse asked for clarification and was assured the nurses would be given feedback on Thursday to be digested and discussed ahead of Friday’s meeting.

“On Thursday, only a day after the meeting at Bodicote, Prof Stephen Kennedy, clinical director of women’s services, wrote a letter to staff saying the counter proposals would not be part of the way forward and the trust’s plan stands - G ward becoming a day facility Monday – Friday with anyone needing to stay overnight accommodated on the General Surgical, E ward.

“There was no discussion, no compromise, no opportunity for the people on the front line to have their say, job done. It was only by sheer chance members of the campaign found out about this because of the complete lack of communication by the ORH with stakeholders,” said Mrs Bird.

KTHG believes that while the standard of daycase services in Banbury and Oxford is now fairer, the standard of care is being reduced for inpatients with more serious problems. For example, gynaecological patients in Oxford who need overnight care have it in a dedicated area in the Women’s Hospital. Mrs Bird added, “So, women of Banbury and surrounding areas, rest assured that the KTHG campaign and the nursing staff at the Horton Hospital did everything they could to save gynae service for you but I’m afraid on this occasion we failed.”

Sheila Snooks, Unison rep at the Horton said last Wednesday’s meeting was a waste of time. “No one knew the result of staff consultation but the final decision must have been taken,” she said. “Is this all part of trying to meet the criteria needed for becoming a Foundation Trust? We know the trust is under awful pressure to save money but Stephen Kennedy said it was about bringing the service in line with Oxford"

In his letter to staff, Prof Kennedy said: “As a result of particular concerns... in relation to beds available for overnight and major gynae emergencies we are taking steps to amend the number of inpatient beds available (in E Ward) from four to six. We are committed to moving forward with our proposals... ensuring equity of care and the expansion of services in north Oxfordshire.” He said implemention would start this month and progress over the next three months.

The Oxfordshire Health and Overview Scrutiny Committee - which referred Horton downgrading plans to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel, winning a reprieve for full acute services - will discuss the changes next week.

Charity Event

Katherine Allen Bridal in Banbury are holding a charity fundraising event for The Horton General Hospital, with an evening of drinks and nibbles at their shop on Thursday 6th October, 6pm – 9.30pm. Entry will cost £5 with all proceeds going to the charity. The evening will include entertainment from harpist Karina Bell, beverages provided by Vitis Wines. Proceeds will be donated to the Horton General Hospital.

July 2011

Campaigners have been recalled to the fight, as once again the people of North Oxfordshire find services at the Horton General Hospital under threat

In response to the difficult financial climate, the ORHT has announced the loss of 10 medical beds and 7 surgical beds at the Horton General Hospital, plus changes to the gynaecology service that will result in the loss of a further 8 beds. The ORHT hopes to offset the planned bed losses through innovative solutions to the perennial problem of bed-blocking. However, the Horton seems to be bearing a disproportionate share of the bed losses, at 7% of total beds, compared to 3.2% at the JR and Churchill sites.

We are also aware that the plan to find and implement a safe, sustainable maternity service in Banbury is slipping - despite the Independent Reconfiguration Panel concluding that Banbury needs a full obstetric service.

Our response:

We acknowledge that in the current financial climate the ORHT’s budget is being frozen in real terms, while the demand for services and the cost of services rise, and that this will create problems for service provision.

We support the ORHT’s efforts to reduce bed-blocking, which would, if succesful, go some way toward mitigating the planned losses of beds.

We want open and truthful communication between the ORHT, staff and external stakeholders, to avoid a return to the bad old days of mistrust

We want to work with the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group to ensure that changes are made where there will be least impact to current and future sercices, and the Horton General Hospital does not bear an unfair share of the service cuts.

We want the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group to commit to finding and implementing the IRP-compliant obstetric solution as soon as possible.

What can you do?

First, if you have a facebook account, join our Save the Horton facebook group, and encourage your friends to join too. It’s the fastest and most direct method we have of communicating directly with the people who care about the Horton General Hospital.

Second, we’re going to ask you to write letters. Thousands of you wrote last time the Horton General Hospital was threatened - personal, powerful letters that persuaded the IRP to support our cause. We’ll give you the addresses as soon as we have them (they’ll be different to last time)

Personal letters are most effective but, the key points as we see them are:

- Banburyshire needs (and indeed the IRP requires) the Horton remains a local, fully functioning General Hospital

- An IRP-compliant maternity (obstetric) solution must be put in place as soon as possible, to safeguard the service in the current financial climate

- When the ORHT and OCCG make decisions, they must be careful to avoid undermining other services, and must ensure that any cuts at the Horton are fair and proportionate.

- Please be reassured that so far as we are aware, A&E and paediatrics (children’s ward) are not threatened by the current plans.


- but remember, we did it before

- we can do it again!

WE DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Campaigners celebrate with a commemorative photo call - and receive a surprise visit from PM David Cameron

2 July 2010

Campaigners and stakeholders, gathering for a commemorative photo call to celebrate the decision to save paediatric and obstetric services at Banbury’s Horton General Hospital, were amazed to find Prime Minister David Cameron was a surprise guest at the event.

Mr Cameron, whose constituency falls partly within the Horton’s catchment area, has been an enthusiastic supporter of the cross-party campaign. He had previously visited the hospital to show his support and, together with other local MPs, spoke before the influential Independent Reconfiguration Panel, helping to influence their historic decision.

Mr Cameron is pictured (below left) with tireless Keep the Horton General Campaign chairman George Parish, local digitaries and campaigners, and (below right) with campaigners Charlotte Bird and Jan Justice.

Photos: Steve Wheeler.


14 June 2010

At their board meeting this afternoon, the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals Trust APPROVED the plans and agreed to provide their share of the extra cost of running 24/7 paediatrics and obstetrics at the Horton General Hospital in Banbury. The plan, which will see childrens and maternity service provided via a consultant led service, will now be put in place, with the recruitment of additional consultants.

This means that our sick children and mothers in labour will continue to receive safe, local treatment instead of having to spend hours in traffic to get to the JR in Oxford. We’re certain that lives will be saved as a result of this decision, and the lives many others who rely on open access will have been saved from becoming immeasurably harder.

There are too many people to thank individually for the huge commitment they’ve made to this campaign over the last 7 years - but you know who you are guys and I’m sure everyone is sending you a big thank you for putting your lives on hold for so long. Long may this solution last!

Thank you everyone, and please - join or stay a member of our facebook group - it’s the cheapest and most direct method we have of keeping in touch with people who care about the Horton. Heaven forbid, we need to call on you again.

But for now - Hands are most definitely OFF the Horton!

Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust agrees to support the consultant-led service

27 May 2010

The plan to safeguard obstetric and paediatric services at the Horton General Hospital has moved a step closer to reality, as the Primary Care Trust has agreed to support the proposal to allow Banbury’s 24/7 childrens and maternity services to continue.

They have agreed to provide £1.5 million towards the extra £2.4 million it will cost annually for consultants to run the services.

Now it is up to the ORHT - which runs the Horton - to agree the plan and decide whether it is willing to fund the remaining £900,000 per year. The Board meets on 14 June.

We’d like to tell the ORHT how much the Horton means to the people of the Banbury area, so please email us with your messages of support. We’ll pass your messages on in advance of the meeting.

You can email us at

Programme Board agrees to support the consultant-led service

May 2010

We’re very pleased to report that the Programme Board has agreed to support the consultant led service. So the next decision is in the hands of the Primary Care Trust, who will decide on Thursday 27 May whether or not the service is affordable.

We’ve sent hundreds of emailed messages on, to support them - but keep them coming in to !

After the PCT, the decision is in the hands of the ORHT.

"SAVE THE HORTON ’ now on Facebook

March 2010

"Save the Horton" has been on Facebook since 2007, but we’ve gained nearly 1000 new members in recent weeks as supporters forwarded our plea for emails (below) to their friends. This is great news for us, as it means we can contact even more people quickly, directly and at no cost.

We use our facebook group to ask supporters for help at key points in the campaign; for example writing emails in support of the Horton before the vital decisions over the coming weeks, and if necessary, to organise public protests such as Hands Around the Horton or the Mayor’s March.

If you want us to keep you informed of developments, please join our facebook group by following this link (you will need to create an account first, if you aren’t already a member, but it’s quite painless)


The plan that would save vital services at the Horton is in danger of being thrown out as “too expensive”. This would leave us back where we were two years ago – with our sick children and mothers in labour facing an unsafe and inhumane trip of 30 miles, 1.5 hours in traffic, to the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford.

The extra cost of maintaining the 24/7 children’s ward and a doctor-led maternity service at the Horton is expected to be around £2m per annum. That’s just 0.22% (less than a quarter of one percent) of Oxfordshire’s annual health budget (£892m p/a).

We think that’s worth spending to keep our children and mothers safe.


We’re asking you to send us an email in support of the Horton’s 24/7 children’s ward and doctor-led maternity service. We’ll pass on all the messages to the Primary Care Trust before they decide whether or not to spend the extra money.

If you’re short on time, a one-liner is better than nothing, but a personalised message is even better.

Please send your email to us at and copy it to

We know that public messages of support make a difference because YOUR MESSAGES OF SUPPORT were key in the IRP’s historic rejection of the original plans.

Please play a part one more time and together we can SAVE THE HORTON!

Putting money before lives?

25 February 2010

- Plan that will save lives could be thrown out for being “too expensive” - Banbury MP calls for everyone to write in support of vital services

Banbury MP and Horton General Hospital campaigner Tony Baldry said it is vital people write to him at to stress their determination that a full-scale downgrading of children’s, maternity and A & E services must not happen.

His move comes after Oxfordshire health bosses have suggested to him that the preferred plan to maintain paediatric cover at the Horton may be too expensive.

Hospital campaign leader George Parish promised ‘all hell will be let loose’ if the plan is abandoned.

"Horton General Hospital services are still under threat. I don’t want anyone to be under the illusion the plan is a done deal," Mr Baldry said this week.

"As a community we must make it clear we won’t settle for anything less than continued secure maternity, children’s and A & E services. We can’t sleepwalk through the next few months assuming all is well. The reality is we’re no further forward than a ‘preferred proposal’.

"I am asking all my constituents and others in the Horton catchment area to take five minutes to write to me or email me at the House of Commons to express their clear support for continuation of children’s, maternity and A & E services at the hospital."

Mr Baldry said he understands why people believe services would be safe into the future after Secretary of State Alan Johnson accepted advice from the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) that Oxford is too far to move 24-hour maternity and children’s services.

In early 2008, Mr Johnson asked Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust (PCT) to liaise with the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals Trust (ORH) and the community to find a solution to specialist staffing problems. "That offered the opportunity to find alternative options which has been done after rigorous work over the last couple of years, involving many people attending numerous meetings and much hard work carried out in good faith," said Mr Baldry.

"Everyone was entitled to consider services were safe when at the end of the two years the PCT said their preferred option was a consultant-delivered children’s service enabling the special care baby unit, consultant-led maternity and other services to be protected.

"However what both the PCT and ORH are now saying is they are having to consider whether that proposal is deliverable in terms of whether they can find the doctors and if they can afford it."

Mr Baldry said the PCT is unlikely to have obtained sufficient costings promised for the end of March and before the General Election. And even if the finance is available it would take the ORH many months to recruit specialists, he said.

"In the meantime we’ve got to pray the interim arrangements the ORH has put in place for the Horton will stick, because they were agreed only for two years," he said.

Mr Baldry said the first thing he would do if re-elected will be to ask the Speaker for a parlliamentary debate on the future of the Horton.

George Parish said: "If the plan works out we will have a party for 5,000 in People’s Park. If not there will be 180,000 cheated, angry patients outside the John Radcliffe demanding answers," he said. "We might as well not have had the IRP inquiry if this isn’t made to work. Our fight has gone on since the Task Force in 2003; it seems it has been purposely left until the election. If the 24-hour children’s ward is not saved all hell will break loose and I’ll be at the head of it. Money can’t be the issue. This is about is children’s and young mums’ lives. We expect them to find the money."

Mr Parish said he was aware Oxford paediatriatricians did not want to cover Banbury night and day. "People think they can rule the roost. They should be prepared to rotate; they are meant to be preserving lives not risking them - that is what this is all about. The IRP said downgrading wasn’t right, Alan Johnson said it wasn’t right, Andy Burnham (Secretary of State) wants it sorted out.

"We support Tony Baldry all the way and the Keep the Horton General Campaign is on alert," he said.

Supporters should write to Tony Baldry MP, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA or email him at

Childrens Ward under threat - or not?

29 September 2009

Horton campaigners, attending a Community Partnership Forum meeting on 29 September 2009, were astounded to hear a presentation by a group of JR and Horton paediatric consultants which outlined the downgrading of children’s services once again.

Although it emerged only under questioning, the proposal was for the children’s ward to operate only between 10am and 10pm, with children needing care outside these hours being transferred to the John Radcliffe. Just as in the original proposals, which were soundly rejected by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel in 2008, this would have a knock-on effect on the Special Care Baby Unit and the obstetrics (consultant-led maternity), neither of which can operate without 24 hour paediatrics.

Shocked campaigners met the following day with representatives of the Primary Care Trust. (The PCT essentially hold the purse-strings and decide which services to commission, but it is up to the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals Trust to determine how to actually provide the services) Campaigners were immensely relieved to hear that the PCT will be demanding that a full, 24 hour paediatric and obstetric service is maintained at the Horton General Hospital.

Reconciling the need for these essential services with the difficulty of finding a solution that all stakeholders support is something the Keep the Horton General campaign are fully engaged in. We look forward to the Better Healthcare Programme’s report, which is due to be presented to the Programme Board on 13 October at Bodicote House.

As the process draws to a close, please keep an eye on the website and local press in case we need to call on your support. If you have anything to offer - time or resources - we’d love to hear from you. Please contact us.