Category Archives: Victoria in North Oxfordshire

VICTORIA DISCUSSES LOCAL POLICING WITH AREA COMMANDER

On Monday 6 March 2017 Victoria Prentis MP met Superintendent Kath Lowe at her constituency office in Upper Heyford. Superintendent Lowe is the Local Police Area Commander for Cherwell and West Oxfordshire, part of which covers Banbury, Bicester and rural north Oxfordshire.

During their discussion, Victoria heard about recent policing successes and learnt about the challenges faced by the local force. Victoria also had the opportunity to raise specific cases with Superintendent Lowe on behalf of her constituents. Superintendent Lowe updated Victoria on the progress of the ongoing restructuring programme being carried out by Thames Valley Police, which will improve the way police services are delivered across the Thames Valley.

Following their meeting, Victoria said, “I always welcome the chance to speak to Kath Lowe and other local police commanders. The relationship between an MP and his or her police force is very important, and we regularly share information about specific cases and local issues. As an MP I am presented on a weekly basis with difficult cases which require police involvement, and I am very grateful for the hard work the police do on behalf of our communities.

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Victoria Prentis MP with Superintendent Kath Lowe.

VICTORIA PRENTIS MP CALLS FOR CCG TO HALT CONSULTATION PROCESS

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On 27 February 2017, Victoria Prentis, Member of Parliament for North Oxfordshire, spoke in a Health and Social Care debate in the House of Commons.

Victoria has been in discussion with a number of her Westminster colleagues to express concerns about the quality of the current consultation in Oxfordshire. She has raised particular worries about the impact of the proposals on the Horton General Hospital, and the content of the consultation documents.

Leading the debate, Dr Sarah Wollaston, MP for Totnes, outlined concerns about the financial position of health and social care matters, and the impact of the current financial situation on patient care.

During the debate, Victoria was able to express her concerns surrounding the Horton General Hospital and the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) ongoing consultation process and stated: I thank my hon. Friend for listening to me on a number of occasions when I have been worried about the situation in Horton General Hospital. She has been kind enough to talk me through some options. One of the difficulties with the consultation process is that lay people—of whom I am one—are not given sufficient evidence to enable them fully to engage with the system and to have trust in the trusts that are seeking to engage them.”

In response, Dr Wollaston commented that: “It is important that this evidence is available not just to us, but to the local community. There should also be a sense that consultations are a genuine process.”

Victoria is now calling on the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group to halt Phase One of the consultation, in order to give the people of Oxfordshire a true say on the future of local NHS Services. She commented: “It is clear from my own research, and the discussions that I have had with colleagues, that the current consultation process, commissioned by our CCG is not good enough. We are not being provided will the full picture, and I am deeply concerned about the future of the Horton and other vital health services.

This consultation is, in my view, fatally flawed. True consultation involves offering options on which the consultees can comment having seen the evidence they need to make informed choices. This is not the case here. The Oxfordshire CCG must pause their consultation until they are ready to consult on all health services, together. Safety of patients should be paramount. Splitting the consultation, does not give us a sense that it is a genuine process, and it must be stopped.”

VICTORIA PRENTIS MP QUESTIONS TRUST AND CLINICAL COMMISSIONING GROUP

After analysing the current consultation documents for Phase One of the ongoing consultation, Victoria Prentis, Member of Parliament for North Oxfordshire wrote to the Chief Executive of the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUHFT), Dr Bruno Holthof.

Victoria was shocked to read in the documents for the consultation that the public meeting of 25 August 2016 was listed as a public engagement exercise by the OUHFT and OCCG. The question and answer session, held in St Mary’s Church, Banbury, was in fact an event organised jointly by Victoria and Banbury Town Council. Victoria’s office were given written assurance by Director of Clinical Services, Paul Brennan, that the event would not make up part of the wider consultation engagement by the Trust or the OCCG, but was simply an opportunity for the people of Banbury to have their questions answered.

In a response from Dr Bruno Holthof, he stated that the event will not be removed from the consultation documents, and that it is “an example of a meeting that took place to engage with the local population prior to the formal consultation period.”

After reading the response, Victoria commented: “I was quite disappointed that the OCCG and Trust are suggesting that the Q&A event last August was an engagement exercise by the Trust. At the time, it had recently been announced that the Horton maternity may be downgraded, and the people of Banbury wanted answers. Had my office and the Town Council not sought to arrange such an event, many of us would have still been left clueless. I do feel that listing it as a form of engagement is misleading, and suggests that the CCG have done more than they have to engage with the people of North Oxfordshire.

This is another example of the contempt in which the people of our area seem to be held by the OUHFT and OCCG.”

BICESTER HOSTS CONSULTATION EVENT

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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.”

More information about the ongoing consultation can be found on Victoria’s website or the consultation website: www.oxonhealthcaretransformation.nhs.uk//.

MPs RELEASE STATEMENT ON OXFORDSHIRE DEVOLUTION PLANS

Victoria Prentis MP (North Oxfordshire), John Howell MP (Henley), Robert Courts MP (Witney) and the Rt Hon Andrew Smith MP (Oxford East) have released a joint statement following recent speculation about devolution plans for the county.

Together they said, “We have seen that South Oxfordshire and the Vale of the White Horse are now backing a bid for a county-based unitary authority.  We have also seen that this is opposed by Cherwell District Council, Oxford City Council, and West Oxfordshire District Council.  So this is not a unified bid across the whole county, does not have the support of the majority of the county’s MPs, and fails the criteria for consensus which the Department of Communities and Local Government are working to.

We recognise that over recent weeks there has been a lot of speculation about the future arrangement of local government across the county. We are committed to the accountability and efficiency of local government.  But there are some red lines we would like to draw.  It is essential that the distinct identities of the different areas in Oxfordshire are respected, with council arrangements which are sufficiently close and meaningful that they are in touch with and accountable to local residents and their needs.  This is an important issue for everyone. It is not something that can or should be rushed. Our priority is to find the best arrangement for all our constituents.”

MP QUESTIONS INCLUSION OF MATERNITY IN CONSULTATION FOLLOWING REFERRAL

Since the vote to refer Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s (OUHFT) decision to suspend obstetrics at the Horton General Hospital to the Secretary of State for Health, Victoria Prentis MP has been pushing to have proposals for the Horton maternity unit removed from phase one of the ongoing consultation.

The first phase of the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group’s (OCCG) consultation began on 16 January 2017, and includes discussions surrounding critical care, planned care and maternity services at the Horton, alongside proposals for acute stroke services and changes to hospital beds across Oxfordshire.

Victoria firmly believes that consulting in two phases will prevent members of the public from seeing the full picture surrounding services at the Horton, particularly in relation to maternity and the future of the Midwife Led Unit in Banbury.

Having attended the first consultation event in Banbury, Victoria joined Witney MP, Robert Courts, at the Chipping Norton consultation meeting on 2 February. During the event, Chipping Norton’s residents emphasised their reliance on services at the Horton, with several commenting that Oxford was too far away from many of West Oxfordshire’s remote rural communities. Victoria, Robert and members of the public also raised their concerns about the split consultation process, reminding the panel that health services across the north of Oxfordshire are integrally linked.

On Friday 3 February, Victoria attended a Community and Partnership Network (CPN) meeting, joined by members of the OCCG and OUHFT. During the meeting she made reference to the referral of the decision to downgrade the Horton’s maternity unit, and argued that it should be removed from phase one of the consultation, pending a decision by the Secretary of State for Health.

At the CPN meeting, Victoria said “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 how decisions in Phase One will affect Phase Two of the consultation. Now that OUHFT’s decision to downgrade the maternity unit at the Horton has been referred to the Secretary of State, it would make much more sense to hold off on making any further decisions about its future.”

MP ENCOURAGES COMMUNITIES TO GET BEHIND “THE GREAT BRITISH SPRING CLEAN”

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Local MP, Victoria Prentis, organised the campaign’s Parliamentary launch and is calling on schools, businesses and community groups to get outdoors, get active and help clear up North Oxfordshire.

“The Great British Spring Clean” follows on from last year’s very successful “Clean for The Queen” campaign and brings together many of the anti-litter organisations in the UK. Costa Coffee, McDonald’s and LIDL are just a few of the companies also supporting the initiative.

Community groups including parish councils, residents’ associations, Girl Guides and brownies and Scout and Cub troops are encouraged to organise their own litter pick or event in the coming weeks or over the campaign’s big clean weekend over 3-5 March.

Victoria said, “Since coordinating the Parliamentary campaign for Clean for The Queen last year, litter has become something of an obsession. I was therefore really keen to help Keep Britain Tidy with this year’s initiative “The Great British Spring Clean”. We should do all we can to encourage people to go out and clean up their communities. The initiative also provides a useful opportunity to raise awareness of the problems litter causes. I am really hoping people in North Oxfordshire will get behind the campaign and was delighted to see so many of my colleagues at the launch. If you are planning your own event locally, please do get in touch. You can also register a clean-up on the campaign’s website where there are also a lot of useful downloadable resources.

Keep Britain Tidy Chief Executive, Allison Ogden-Newton, commented, “It was fantastic to see Victoria support our campaign. The Great British Spring Clean is about getting all Britons who care about their environment to take action and I’m looking forward to seeing lots of people out and about, contributing to cleaning up their communities on 3rd 4th and 5th of March.”

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Victoria at the Parliamentary launch of “The Great British Spring Clean” on 31 January 2017.

MPS WELCOME MATERNITY SERVICE REFERRAL

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On Thursday 2 February, Victoria Prentis MP and Witney MP Robert Courts welcomed the Joint Health & Overview Scrutiny Committee’s unanimous vote to refer the Oxford University NHS Foundation Trust’s (OUHFT) decision to suspend obstetric services at the Horton General Hospital to the Secretary of State for Health.

In a discussion over the management of pressures under urgent care, Cllr Kieron Mallon (Bloxham & Easington Division), Eddie Reeves (Conservative candidate for Calthorpe Division) and Ian Davies, Director of Operational Delivery at Cherwell District Council, had the opportunity to address the Committee, and put on record their concerns about the way in which the decision to suspend obstetric services at the Horton had been taken by the OUHFT last August. They put particular emphasis on the detrimental impact it has had on patient safety and choice in North Oxfordshire and beyond.

Following the representations, Committee member and County Councillor Arash Fatemian (Deddington Division) introduced a motion calling for the suspension to be referred to the Secretary of State for Health given that there is now no prospect of the full service resuming in March. The motion subsequently went to a vote, and the Committee agreed unanimously to refer the suspension to the Secretary of State.

Speaking after the vote, Victoria Prentis MP said: “I am absolutely delighted that the Health & Overview Scrutiny Committee has referred the ongoing suspension of obstetric services at the Horton to the Secretary of State. Ever since the Trust Board’s decision in August last year, I have been trying my best to get HOSC to refer the decision. At their meetings in September and November, they indicated that they did not feel it necessary to do so, given the Trust’s assurances that the service would resume in March. As that has become increasingly unlikely, the people of North Oxfordshire have been faced with a change in service on which they had absolutely no say. It was essential that HOSC referred this decision to the Secretary of State.

“HOSC’s decision is a major breakthrough for all of us who have been campaigning hard against the downgrade. The cross party nature of this campaign is apparent in the unanimity shown.

“It will be interesting to see how the decision to refer will impact the Oxfordshire Transformation Programme split consultation exercise which is ongoing, and about which I continue to have grave concerns. The fight continues, but I am confident that the Secretary of State will take this issue very seriously.

Robert Courts MP said: “The ramifications of the suspension of obstetric services at the Horton go far beyond the residents of Banbury.  

“My constituents in West Oxfordshire would face horrendous travel times if this important service were to close.  If expectant mothers have to travel to Oxford or further for treatment I would be seriously concerned about the impact on their health.

“The decision by the HOSC to refer this to the Secretary of State is absolutely right.  This matter needs more scrutiny and consultation and should never have been so light.

“I continue to have major concerns about the split consultation taking place on Oxfordshire’s Transformation Plan.  The decision will surely impact this consultation.  I am ready to fight to ensure that this is matter is fully considered by the Secretary of State and I eagerly await his decision.

“As the wider consultation process continues, I will ensure that constituents’ concerns are heard and responded to.”

Cllr Arash Fatemian said: “I was pleased to have the opportunity to table this important motion at the meeting. It was the right time and the right decision was made. My thanks to the Committee for their cross-party and unanimous support.

MP SAYS SHE WILL VOTE TO TRIGGER ARTICLE 50

Victoria Prentis, Member of Parliament for North Oxfordshire, has said that she will support the ‘Withdrawal from the European Union (Article 50) Bill 2016-17’ and vote to trigger Article 50 tonight.

While I voted Remain at the referendum, I think it is important that we now respect both electorate’s vote and the Supreme Court’s ruling. My constituency voted to leave the EU, with an above average turnout at 75.7 per cent. In the nation as a whole, 1,269,501 more people voted to leave than voted to remain. Even if a small minority of those who voted to leave regret doing so now – and I have seen little evidence of this locally – we cannot ignore the wishes of the majority. Moreover, I believe in our democracy, and not just when it accords with my own views. Brexit will happen, and I will vote today in support of Article 50.

Once the Prime Minister has invoked Article 50, we will begin our formal negotiations to leave the European Union. Nobody should believe that the negotiation process will be brief or straightforward – I certainly don’t. It is going to require significant expertise and a consistent approach. Regaining more control of the number of people who come here from Europe, while also allowing British companies to trade with the single market in goods and services, must be a priority. The ability to trade with EU member states is also vital to our prosperity. The Prime Minister made this clear in her recent speech at Lancaster House, during which she outlined twelve objectives that will guide the Government through the negotiations. A white paper will also be published shortly, which I will look at closely. It is essential that we get the best deal possible, and make the most of this opportunity. We must get it right.

Some of my constituents have raised their concerns about the advisory nature of last June’s referendum. While the vote was, legally-speaking, advisory, the Government made it very clear before 23 June that it would respect the result. The leaders of both campaigns also made this point. On 25 February 2016, the former Foreign Secretary (now Chancellor of the Exchequer) stated to the House of Commons:

“Leave means leave, and a vote to leave will trigger a notice under Article 50. To do otherwise in the event of a vote to leave would represent a complete disregard of the will of the people. No individual, no matter how charismatic or prominent, has the right or the power to redefine unilaterally the meaning of the question on the ballot paper. The Government’s position is that the referendum is an advisory one, but the Government will regard themselves as being bound by the decision of the referendum and will proceed with serving an Article 50 notice.”

I know that a significant minority of my constituents will find my stance disappointing. There will be a great deal of debating in the next few weeks, so if you have any specific points you would like me to make, do let me know by email and I will pass them on to the Government for their consideration.

Victoria Prentis MP (1 February 2017)

VICTORIA PRENTIS INVITED TO PRESENT BANBURY SWIMMING CLUB AWARDS

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On Friday 27 January 2017, North Oxfordshire MP, Victoria Prentis was invited to present prizes to members of Banbury Swimming Club.

Throughout the year, the children of the club have been working hard to improve their swimming times, culminating in four club championship events at the Spiceball Leisure Centre at the end of last year. Prizes from the Club Championships were given for different strokes and distances achieved by the members of the club.

During the evening, which was held at the General Foods Sports and Social Club, Victoria also had the opportunity to thank the volunteers, parents and coaches of the club, for all of their hard work ensuring the club remains open for its many keen swimmers.

Following the award ceremony, Victoria commented: “I was honoured to be invited to present the club’s prizes, not least because I learnt to swim in Banbury, like many of the clubs members. Sport is an integral part of our community, and the opportunity to learn to swim is particularly important for young people. I was delighted to present awards to swimmers for their excellent achievements, and wish them all the best in the coming year.”

Club Chair, Ian Walkden said: “Parents and swimmers really enjoyed the evening. It’s a great encouragement to all young swimmers and volunteers to receive recognition for their dedication throughout the year. It was great that Victoria could spend some time with us acknowledging their acheivements”

For further information on how to get involved with Banbury Swimming Club, including opportunities to learn to swim, please visit www.banburyswim.co.uk.

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