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On 30 July 2016, Victoria Prentis MP will be joining the Save our Horton Campaign, led by the Keep the Horton General Group (KTHG), and Councillors from across the political spectrum, in a demonstration to show solidarity against plans to turn the Horton Maternity Unit into a Midwife Led Unit.

The demonstration has been organised as a result of an announcement from the Oxfordshire University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUHT) last Friday.

Contingency plans have been put in place by OUHT to turn the currently consultant-led maternity department at the Horton into a midwife led unit if the Trust fails to recruit enough obstetricians by September. If implemented, a vast majority of births will be transferred to the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford, leaving hundreds of expectant mothers having to deliver their babies in Oxford instead of Banbury. Any unexpected delivery problems will result in mothers having to be transferred by ambulance, mid-delivery, to the JR.

Victoria commented: “I was very disappointed and upset to read the statement from Oxfordshire University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. I was born at the Horton and have long been a supporter of retaining its vital services. While I understand a maternity unit needs a safe number of obstetricians on hand at all times, I am certain a solution can be found to maintain current Horton maternity services.

I would strongly encourage expectant mothers in Banbury and the surrounding areas, alongside new mothers who have recently delivered at the Horton, to come along to the demonstration on Saturday. These planned changes will affect a vast number of people in North Oxfordshire and beyond- we must stand together against these proposals and show support for the hospital.”

Cllr Barry Wood, leader of Cherwell District Council, was sorry to read the press release from OUHT and said: “The OUHT contingency plans are a real concern not only for people in Banbury but surrounding villages. I urge everyone to stand by their elected representatives and Keep the Horton General group to fight these plans and keep the Horton thriving”.

Cllr Sean Woodcock, Leader of Cherwell District Council Labour Group and Banbury Town Councillor said in response to the announcement: “I was angered by the statement that the Trust put out last week which seems at complete odds with what they have said previously.

Like Victoria I was born at the Horton and made a promise when I got into politics that I would always defend it. That’s why I am pleased to stand shoulder to shoulder with her in this campaign to protect services at the hospital. I call on the rest of Banbury to join us.”

Cllr Steve Kilsby, for Cherwell District and Banbury Town Councils, is very concerned about the plans and stated: “We hear that plans to adapt the JR to develop additional bed spaces are quite advanced, so are we looking at a fait accompli before the formal consultation has even started? The people of Banburyshire need to be girding their loins, as Keep the Horton General have been advocating, and as a local politician, I want to ensure we are part of this fight.”

Keith Strangwood, Chairman of KTHG, pointed out that: “If the services transferred, then it may prove almost impossible to reinstate it at the Horton. Three out of six Clinical staff have already resigned, following the Trust releasing their early options document in June. It’s only a matter of time before the other three move on to obtain job security. We must all unite to prevent this unthinkable downgrading of the Horton.”

The demonstration will involve a photo shoot with expectant mothers and mothers who have recently given birth at the Horton maternity unit. It will take place on Hightown Road outside the entrance to the Horton Maternity Unit on Saturday 30 July at 7.45pm.