Victoria Prentis MP writes about her concerns following Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s announcement that NHS services at the Horton General Hospital in Banbury may be restructured after a public consultation.
As you may be aware, the health and social care authorities in Oxfordshire are in the process of developing a transformation programme for our area. As part of this project, a number of proposals will be considered regarding the structure of services at the Horton Hospital.
I was born at the Horton, as were my sisters. I was cared for there after I had complications following the birth of my youngest child. It has always been my local hospital. While no decisions have been made yet, I want to make it clear from the outset that I feel very strongly that we must keep high level maternity care at the Horton. The most important factor is the safety of mothers and babies.
I am also sure that our paediatric care must continue to be local and first class. When my eldest daughter was one and developed a meningococcal rash, I knew I needed to get her to a hospital fast. I vividly remember stopping the car at the junction on the Banbury to Oxford road, and deciding whether to turn left to the John Radcliffe, or right to the Horton. I turned right, arrived within twenty minutes at the Horton, was able to park the car, and she was treated by the great Dr Bell very quickly and successfully.
We have benefited enormously from having a world-class teaching hospital in Oxford. However, some of us live a very long way from it, and the traffic and parking situation near the John Radcliffe makes travel there a real problem. Of course, more specialist care for high risk pregnancies, and children with unusual conditions, may be better dealt with in the centres of excellence around the country. However, I believe that we need good quality maternity and paediatric care close to home in our own town in Banbury.
The proposals put forward by the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust will consist of three options. I am interested to learn more about them. I want to see which offers the best and safest support to those who use the Horton.
These proposals are still being developed; the Transformation Plan will not be finalised until later this month. It will then go to public consultation in the autumn. I would encourage all my constituents to engage with the consultation process. I will send you further details when I have them, and know there will be a website available soon too.
We have been fighting to keep high level maternity services at the Horton for most of my lifetime. We may have to dust off our Hands Off Our Horton banners and start again.
Victoria Prentis MP (8 June 2016)