Statement on the Secretary of State for Health’s visit to the Horton
‘I know that some people would have liked the opportunity to see Jeremy Hunt today.
I completely understand that people are disappointed that they did not manage to see the Secretary of State today and ask him their questions about the future of the Horton. The brief visit was arranged very recently and, until today, it was uncertain whether he would be able to come at all. Given the depth of feeling locally, I was worried that any advertising of his visit might result in a demonstration. While I strongly believe that there is a time and a place for peaceful protests, such as the Hands Around Our Horton event last year, this was not it. This was a private visit, in which I was able calmly to express our concerns.
While I have spoken to the Secretary of State about the Horton on a number of occasions, I have always felt it was vital that he should come and see the hospital and the local area for himself. We sat in the car in Oxford-bound traffic and I showed him several of the new housing developments, and told him about the rest. I gave him my response to the Clinical Commissioning Group’s recent consultation, which includes anonymised submissions from local residents about their concern for local healthcare services. I was able to discuss the future of A&E, maternity and paediatrics with him in detail, to talk about our worries about the domino effect of service removal and to explain the results of the travel survey fully. We were able to talk and listen to local people who passed by.
I have always believed the Horton to be above politics, and have valued the cross-party nature of our campaign. The fight is as personal for me as it is for everyone else who lives locally; it is a fight I am determined to win. For me, the time I had today with the Secretary of State was simply the best opportunity to get our case across. That is why I did not publicise the visit in advance. By the end of his visit, the Secretary of State could have no doubt about the strength of feeling towards our much-needed local hospital.’