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On Wednesday 31 August, the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s board of directors voted to implement a contingency plan to downgrade the Horton General Hospital maternity service to a midwife-only unit. The decision came about following the Trust’s failure to recruit enough middle-grade obstetric consultants.

Victoria Prentis MP, cross-party councillors, campaign groups, members of the public and local MPs, have been working tirelessly to prevent the downgrade of vital Horton services. Following a number of meetings and events involving the Trust and Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, it was hoped that the Trust would reconsider its plans and attempt to bring in a number of temporary consultants until all options had been considered properly through open public consultation.

Victoria commented: “I am really sorry to hear that the Board has voted to temporarily downgrade the maternity unit. I hope that this is only a very short term plan and maternity will return to a full consultant-led unit as soon as possible.

“Personally, I am very worried about the contingency arrangements and will continue to put pressure on the Trust for answers. I will do all I can to offer assistance to worried constituents and expectant mothers during this time.

“I am also disappointed that this decision has been taken with no public consultation and no discussions have been had with neighbouring Members of Parliament, whose constituents will also be affected by these changes. We only found out about the contingency plan at the end of July, and have not seen any evidence or risk assessments to understand the impact the suspension may have. 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. In the meantime, I will continue to work with colleagues and local elected officials and do all that I can to secure the future of our local hospital.”