BICESTER HOSTS CONSULTATION EVENT
On Tuesday 21 February 2017, a public meeting was held by the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) in Bicester, to discuss Phase One of the ongoing Health and Care services consultation in Oxfordshire.
Victoria Prentis, the Member of Parliament for North Oxfordshire, was unable to attend owing to the timing of the event and her commitments in Westminster. Victoria has expressed a number of concerns about the consultation process, the future of the Horton General Hospital in Banbury, and the impact of the consultation on health services in Bicester.
Phase One of the consultation includes proposals on critical care at the Horton, acute stroke services in Oxfordshire, hospital beds, planned care at the Horton, and maternity services in the north of the county.
While people in Bicester quite often have the choice of either the John Radcliffe (JR) in Oxford or the Horton in Banbury, any changes made to the Horton may limit that choice.
Phase Two of the consultation, expected to begin in the Autumn of this year, will include discussions on services in Bicester such as GP surgeries and Bicester Community Hospital. There is concern that while Phase One does not directly affect services in Bicester, any decisions made following this period of consultation by the OCCG will have a direct effect on Phase Two.
The consultation event follows months of increasing concern about the future of maternity and emergency hospital services in the north of Oxfordshire. For many in Bicester, the Horton General Hospital is a vital local service, and more accessible than Oxford’s hospitals.
At Tuesday’s public meeting, questions were raised over the capacity of local doctors’ surgeries, alongside parking and travel times to the JR. A member of Victoria Prentis’ staff asked whether Bicester mothers could be given the option to deliver their babies at the Horton, as it is understood that increasing birth numbers in Banbury might allow for an obstetric unit to be reinstated.
Following the meeting, Victoria commented: “I was very disappointed that I could not attend the Bicester meeting in person. Holding a public event during the day excludes the majority of the town’s population, particularly young families who rely heavily on services at the Horton.
While I am very concerned about the future of the Horton in Banbury, I am also worried about the future of health services in Bicester. We have seen one closure of a well-supported GP surgery, and the Community Hospital is an important service for many of us.
I would be very interested to hear from any of my constituents in Bicester who regularly use, or may use in the future, NHS services at the Horton.
In the meantime, I will continue to liaise with the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group about their plans for health services in my constituency, and I strongly encourage my constituents to take part in the consultation.”