On 16 January, the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group published the first part of its Transformation Programme. Despite serious concerns about the process and content of the consultation document, Victoria Prentis MP is encouraging all those affected by changes to Oxfordshire’s healthcare services to engage as best they can.

Victoria commented: “I am extremely disappointed that the Clinical Commissioning Group has decided to proceed with the Phase One consultation. I have made it very clear that I do not support splitting the Transformation Programme into two parts. I am very concerned that launching the first part of the consultation today (16 January) will mean that the final fortnight will overlap with local election purdah, when there are strict restrictions on public engagement. The CCG are well aware of my concerns, as are the Chief Executives from the other local health authorities and the County Council’s Health & Overview Scrutiny Committee. Unfortunately, nothing has been done that provides me with any reassurance.

“Having had sight of a draft version of the consultation document, I am genuinely worried that the public will not be able to understand what it is they are being consulted on. I don’t understand myself. It is almost impossible for the people of North Oxfordshire and beyond to express their views on what is being proposed in Phase One when we have absolutely no idea what will be proposed in Phase Two, or what impact our responses in the first part will have on the second part. For example, we simply cannot judge whether the suggested changes to acute stroke care in the Horton are good news when we have no idea what role Bicester Community Hospital will have in the future. Similarly, moving dialysis and chemotherapy services to the Horton – as suggested in Phase One – may well be a positive step, but not if it jeopardises our A&E and paediatric services on which we will be consulted in Phase Two. Obstetric maternity services will be consulted on in Phase One, however further consultation on the future of Midwife Led Units (MLUs) including whether we can maintain a unit both in Banbury and Chipping Norton will make up part of Phase Two. In my view, this complicates the issues we face regarding maternity services in the north of the county. It is simply wrong that we are not getting the full picture.

“I am absolutely committed to helping my constituents understand the consultation document and have set up a dedicated page on my website. I intend to have a list of “Frequently Asked Questions” to answer any queries people may have about the changes put forward. The CCG will be holding two public events in Banbury on 26 January and 2 March. While I understand the format of these meetings is yet to be finalised I hope that everyone who wishes to can attend. It is essential that we present a united front and try our absolute best to engage in this consultation, despite its shortcomings. I will do all that I can to ensure that this can be done.”

The first part of the consultation on the Oxfordshire Healthcare Transformation Programme can be seen here.