VICTORIA VISITS HEYFORD PARK VETERANS GROUP

On Friday 6 October, Victoria Prentis, Member of Parliament for North Oxfordshire, visited the Heyford and Bicester Veterans Group.

The Group aims to provide vital support for veterans and their families. It has joined forces with advocacy group SEAP, the Royal British Legion, Veterans UK, mental health charity Rethink, Help for Heroes and a housing specialist to make sure that all those involved in the military have access to essential help and support, both during and after service.

Victoria commented: ‘I thought it was a brilliant service, and it was great to meet everyone involved. I was particularly glad to see such a joined-up approach, providing excellent all-round support. It was heartening to see people from all around the county coming together to deal with issues, offer help and advice, and to share their experiences.’

 

 

CCG RETHINKING SPLIT HEALTHCARE CONSULTATION

Horton top

On Tuesday 26 September, Victoria Prentis, Member of Parliament for North Oxfordshire, attended a Community Partnership Network (CPN) meeting at Bodicote House in Banbury.

CPN is a Better Health Care programme for Banbury and its surrounding area, and draws together key stakeholders from the Cherwell region to discuss matters relating to health provision, ranging from GP services to the closure of beds.

In January 2017, the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) put forward their proposals for the future of health in Oxfordshire in their Big Health and Care consultation. A decision was taken to split the consultation into two phases, with Phase One being delivered this year and Phase Two following in 2018. It was argued by many that the issues across both phases were interconnected and members of the public could not make an informed decision without knowing the whole picture.

Banbury’s MP has continually pushed for the consultation to be halted until both phases can be delivered together, particularly with a referral to the Secretary of State and Judicial Review of the process on the table. In today’s meeting, Victoria asked whether the CCG would consider stopping the implementation of Phase 1 and rolling it into Phase 2 of the Transformation Programme. In response, Dr Walsh, the Clinical Development Lead for the Oxfordshire Transformation Programme, replied stating that he would take it back to the CCG board for consideration and understands the strength of feeling in North Oxfordshire.

Following the meeting, Victoria commented: “It is certainly a glimmer of hope that the CCG are finally listening to my requests and will be rethinking their plans for the consultation process. Without a clear vision of the future of health services and proper thought-out proposals, it is impossible for my constituents to put forward their views about the plans. The CCG are facing a referral to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) regarding permanent changes to maternity services in Banbury, and the Council have put forward a judicial review against the consultation process. I really hope that the CCG listen to our concerns, take a step back and re-evaluate the split nature of the consultation.”

VICTORIA PRENTIS OPENS NEW EXPORT WAREHOUSE

On Friday 22 September, Victoria Prentis MP opened Cleenol Group Ltd’s new Export Warehouse.

Cleenol Group Ltd manufactures an extensive range of quality cleaning & hygiene products for professionals.  In addition to supplying customers throughout UK they export to over 40 countries.  These include   EU member states, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.  Export sales grew by nearly 20% last year and now represent over 12% of the company’s turnover.  To manage this increase Cleenol have invested in a new 12,500 sq ft export warehouse, adjoining its other 3 warehouses on the Tramway Industrial Estate.

Managing Director Richard Greaves said: “We have been exporting for over 25 years.  Our customers recognize the quality of the products we manufacture and the service we provide.  Since Brexxit the fall in the value of the pound has made our products even more attractive and we have seen significant sales growth as a result.  Our export markets recognize and respect the value they get from British manufactured products.  They provide them with quality and consistency of performance, and cost in use savings.  Many are now looking to be environmentally responsible, and our products and systems help them achieve this.  We anticipate further export growth in the coming years and have invested accordingly. “

Victoria Prentis MP commented: “I was delighted to be asked to open Cleenol Group Ltd’s new Export Warehouse and visit their manufacturing plant. They are one of the largest employers in Banbury, and it is great to see a local company doing so well  and continuing to provide jobs for people in the Banbury area. It was particularly interesting to meet Richard and discuss plans for the future, I am sure that the new warehouse will play a big part.”

Cleenol has been manufacturing cleaning and hygiene products for industry for over 65 years.  It has been in Banbury for over 40 years.  The company now employs over 120 people, holding both the ISO9001 quality and ISO14001 environmental accreditations.

They are market leaders in the manufacture of environmentally friendly concentrated products and dispensing systems for industry and an extensive range of cleaning products for a large range of applications.  These include products for industrial laundries, dishwashing chemicals for restaurants and canteens, liquid soaps and sanitizers, floor care products and bactericidal surface cleaners.  Their customers include the hotel, catering and leisure industries, laundries, hospitals and care homes, as well as supplying government and local authorities, manufacturing products under customers own branding as well as their own.

VICTORIA PRENTIS signs pledge to Back British Farming in South East

 

Victoria at the drop-in event in Parliament.

Victoria at the drop-in event in Parliament.

Victoria Prentis MP has recognised the vital role that South East farmers are contributing to the economy, the countryside and food production as she pledged to Back British Farming at an event in Westminster this week.  

Farming in the South East contributes £880 million to the local economy and provides 47,246 jobs – this is on top of the safe, affordable food farmers produce and British countryside they maintain.

In addition to its role producing food, farming also supports the work of other industries, such as vets, solicitors, surveyors and feed merchants.

The event in Westminster was held by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) as a rallying call to MPs to support farming – during a particularly crucial period for British farming as the Brexit negotiations begin.

Victoria said: “There are so many worthy reasons to support British farmers. They are responsible for securing a British food supply, looking after our world-renowned countryside and sustaining a dynamic rural economy. That is why I am proud to wear the NFU’s Back British Farming pin badge in Parliament today.

As one of the sectors that will be most affected by Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, it is critical that we create the right regulatory environment to ensure our farmers can continue to provide the safe and affordable food that the public trust and demand.”

If you would like to find out more about how you can Back British Farming, you can join thousands of supporters of the National Farmers’ Union campaign here.

MP HOLDS SURGERY IN BARCLAYS BANK

170915 Victoria Prentis at Barclays Surgery Cropped

On Friday 15 September, North Oxfordshire MP decided to try out a new location for her constituency surgeries – Barclays Bank in Banbury.

While she usually organises ‘Supermarket Surgeries’ in Sainsbury’s cafés, Victoria was kindly invited to hold one of her regular constituent drop-ins in Barclay’s Banbury Branch. With friendly staff and a private room, it was a success with a number of local people popping in to have a chat to Victoria about issues ranging from help with visas to mental health support.

Surgeries are an important part of an MP’s job, giving constituents valuable face to face time with their elected representative. Talking to an MP is quite often people’s last resort and they come with a wide range of issues and concerns.

After the surgery, Victoria commented: “The setting in Barclays Banbury was ideal for meeting my constituents, particularly those with quite complex cases. The staff were very helpful, providing a private room to conduct each appointment in. I am keen to ensure that my surgeries are accessible, so holding them in places such as banks on the high street and supermarket cafes works well. While my diary is very busy, I thoroughly enjoy holding surgeries and meeting constituents, alongside my more rural ‘pub tours’.”

For more information on Victoria’s upcoming surgeries, please visit www.victoriaprentis.com/contact/surgery-appointments/.

MP EXPERIENCES MORNING AS A BUILDER WITH DAVID WILSON HOMES

David Wilson Homes has welcomed Victoria Prentis MP to its development in Deddington for a hands on ‘hard-hat tour’.

The housebuilder invited Victoria Prentis, the MP for North Oxfordshire, to visit Deddington Grange to experience a morning as a builder at the David Wilson Homes site, practicing bricklaying and also enjoying a typical builder’s breakfast of a bacon sandwich.

During her visit Victoria spent time meeting the team behind Deddington Grange and hearing about how construction is progressing.

Deddington Grange will consist of 84 three, four and five bedroom homes once complete.

Victoria Prentis MP, said: “North Oxfordshire has one of the highest growth rates in the country, so it was really interesting to look around David Wilson’s Deddington Grange site on Friday and lay a brick for one of the houses.

“It is always helpful to discuss with developers what housing options they are making available for local people, and what their plans are for affordable housing. It was interesting to look around the show home and I am sure it won’t be long before I am hosting one of my ‘New Residents Roadshows’ on the site.”

John Fitzgerald, Managing Director at David Wilson Homes Mercia, said: “We were delighted to welcome Victoria Prentis to our site to show her first hand the work that goes into creating a development such as Deddington Grange.”

Deddington Grange is a beautiful new development in the desirable Oxfordshire village of Deddington. The new homes border open fields and glorious countryside while still boasting excellent commuter links, with Banbury just four miles away and Oxford reachable in just half an hour.

 

Victoria Launches ‘Virtual Water Fountain’ Scheme in Banbury and Bicester

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Banbury and Bicester have this week joined the campaign to protect the marine environment and cut litter levels by reducing the reliance on disposable plastic water bottles, following the launch of the Refill scheme in the area.

Some 20 local businesses have already signed up to the initiative, which seeks to connect thirsty people with cafes, shops and offices willing to offer free tap water refills. Participating businesses register with an app and also place a sticker in their window alerting passers-by that they are a Refill site, regardless of whether they are customers or not.

The local scheme, which is sponsored by Bicester-based business BRITA UK and has the backing of Victoria Prentis MP, aims to make refilling a reusable water bottle on the go and staying hydrated as easy, convenient and cheap as possible. Research conducted by BRITA UK and Keep Britain Tidy  earlier this year revealed that 59% of us would be more likely to use a reusable water bottle if refills were more freely available in places such as shops, airports and parks.

Research has shown a reduction in the number of water fountains around the country, but English law currently only requires licensed premises to offer free refills, not all establishments that are open to the public. And BRITA’s research found that embarrassment is holding people back; with 71% of people uncomfortable asking for free tap water without buying something else and 37% awkward even if they are making a purchase. The Refill app aims to remove any obstacles to drinking on the go in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way.

Britons use 7.7bn single-use plastic bottles every year  despite the fact that these are expensive to produce, use up valuable natural resources to make and transport, and create mountains of waste.  An estimated 800 plastic bottles a minute are either ending up in landfill or as litter, which will too often make its way into our waterways and out to sea, causing severe damage to marine life such as whales, dolphins and turtles.

Banbury and Bicester are the tenth and eleventh towns in England to sign up to Refill, which was first launched by anti-plastic pollution charity City to Sea in Bristol in September 2015 and is now live in cities including Bath and Norwich. The Banbury and Bicester refill scheme was officially launched by Victoria Prentis at a bottle filling ceremony at FLTR Coffee cafe today.

Sarah Taylor, Managing Director of BRITA UK, said: ‘BRITA UK is delighted to be supporting the launch of Refill in Bicester and Banbury. We all know how important it is to stay hydrated on the go, but it can be really difficult to find somewhere to fill up for free or get a glass of water. Unfortunately that often means people purchase plastic bottles that will then be thrown away, causing long-term damage to the marine environment and increasing the amount of litter in our public spaces. The Refill scheme is a practical solution to this problem and I would encourage all businesses in Bicester and Banbury to sign up.

Victoria Prentis, MP for Banbury, said: ‘I am thrilled to launch the Refill scheme in Banbury and Bicester. Disposable bottles can be so damaging to the environment, but they are often hard to avoid, especially when out and about. The simplest solutions are usually the most effective; Refill enables people to do their bit while going about their everyday lives. We can see a similar arrangement in action with London’s Borough Market introducing free water fountains as part of a pledge to phase out single-use plastic bottles over the next six months.  There is definitely scope for this to be a national model. I am really looking forward to seeing how the scheme develops locally and am very grateful to Brita for their generous support.

Natalie Fee, founder of City to Sea, said: ‘Thanks to our partnership with BRITA UK, shoppers and commuters in Banbury and Bicester will never have to buy expensive, environmentally catastrophic bottled water again! Our free Refill rewards app means you’ll be able to find free refills in your local area and earn points as you go – helping you to remember to take your reusable bottle out with you when you leave the house!

Victoria refilling her water bottle to mark the launch of the Banbury and Bicester Refill scheme.

Victoria refilling her water bottle to mark the launch of the Banbury and Bicester Refill scheme.

The Refill team with supporters from Brita and local business owners.

The Refill team with supporters from Brita and local business owners.

Victoria Prentis MP comments on Judicial Review progression

Following today’s decision to grant permission for a full High Court hearing of the Judicial Review brought forward by four local councils against changes to healthcare services, Victoria Prentis MP has made the following statement:

“I am absolutely delighted to hear that permission has been granted for a full hearing of the councils’ Judicial Review application. From the very beginning it was clear that the Clinical Commissioning Group’s Phase One consultation was fatally flawed. North Oxfordshire is united in its opposition to the content and process which has been used. Despite making our views known time and time again, we have been ignored. The application to the High Court for a judicial review was brought by four councils, supported by the Keep the Horton General Campaign Group. Today’s decision by Mr Justice Fraser recognises that our concerns are well founded.

Having sought assurances that no changes to maternity services will be made at the Horton until the judicial review and referrals to the Secretary of State have run their course, I will now write to the Clinical Commissioning Group once again to urge them to abandon their Phase One consultation in its entirety. We need to start again when we have a new Chief Executive and Clinical Lead. At the same time, I will do all I can to assist the councils with their preparations for the full hearing which will we hope take place before the end of the year.”

Victoria speaks to BBC Radio Oxford following CCG Board decision

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On Friday morning, Victoria Prentis MP spoke to David Prever during his breakfast show for BBC Radio Oxford to discuss Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group’s decision to approve Phase One of the Oxfordshire Transformation Plan.

 

Click on the following link to listen to the full interview: 

 

Many thanks to BBC Radio Oxford for providing the media file. 

 

 

VICTORIA PRENTIS MP “FURIOUS” WITH OXFORDSHIRE CLINICAL COMMISSIONING GROUP BOARD DECISION

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North Oxfordshire MP Victoria Prentis has said she is “furious” with today’s decision by the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group Board to approve proposals set out in their Phase One Transformation Programme.

The first phase of the consultation, which ran from January to April this year, put forward proposals for the future of health services in Oxfordshire. It was met with widespread opposition, particularly in the north of the county, with many people concerned about the future of the Horton General Hospital and patient safety.

During the meeting, the CCG Board Members voted to support the following proposals from the consultation:

  • Transfer of Level 3 Critical Care from the Horton to the John Radcliffe (JR) in Oxford.
  • A complete transfer of immediate care for suspected Strokes to the JR.
  • To make permanent the temporary downgrade of the Horton maternity unit from an obstetric to a midwife led unit (MLU).
  • The permanent closure of 110 acute beds, followed by a further 36 bed closures dependent on approval by the Clinical Senate.
  • An increase in Planned Care Services at the Horton, including plans for a new Diagnostic and Outpatient facility.

Before the Board made the decision, a number of stakeholders including Victoria Prentis, Witney MP Robert Courts, Joint Oxfordshire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) Chair, Councillor Arash Fatemian, Professor George Smith, Chair of Healthwatch Oxfordshire, and Keith Strangwood of the Keep the Horton General campaign group, were given the opportunity to make brief statements. In her own contribution, Victoria made clear her frustrations and focused on areas of patient safety which have not been addressed properly throughout the consultation process.

After the meeting, Victoria said: “The Board’s decision to approve proposals in the Transformation Programme consultation comes as no surprise.

“I am furious. Public consultation has been meaningless. The Board heard five clear addresses from myself, my colleague Robert Courts, HOSC Chair, Councillor Arash Fatemian, Professor George Smith, Chair of Healthwatch Oxfordshire, and Keith Strangwood, Chair of the Keep the Horton General campaign group. We were united in our views, yet there was no further mention of many of the points we raised when the Board examined the proposals. For example, we have no idea whether the static ambulance will remain at the Horton. Blue light transfer times were looked at without addressing the fact that no transfer can take place until another midwife has come into the unit to enable the duty midwife to travel with the mother giving birth. While patient safety is top priority for all of us, there was no proper discussion about how people, particularly those in the north of the county who do not own a car, are supposed to access services at the John Radcliffe. 

“No discussion was had about the impact on the families of patients, and there was no consideration of future arrangements for the hardworking Horton staff, and those whose job is now in Oxford, who have had to adapt to changes made in the last year.

“My requests to pause the decision-making process until we have a clearer vision of health services and more evidence to understand the proposals have been ignored over and over again. Before today there were two referrals to the Secretary of State. There are now three, as the Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) will now refer the decision to permanently downgrade the maternity unit. I support them in their calls for no action to be taken until the referral process has run its course. We will also have to see how the judicial review brought by five councils progresses.

“I urge my constituents not to give up hope. I remain absolutely committed in the fight to retain acute services at the Horton General Hospital.”

Please see below a video of Victoria’s address and her speaking notes.

 

The consequences of your decision today are significant.

Significant for the low-risk mothers who choose the Horton MLU who become high risk during labour and need transferring, but must wait for a midwife and wait for an ambulance before they are able to. Can you be sure that you have enough information concerning what will replace the static ambulance? There is nothing in the papers before you and we were given inconsistent information during the consultation. We know there have been cases where difficulties have arisen.

Significant for the many thousands of women – the 85 per cent who give birth in an obstetric unit – who will now be forced to spend up to one and a half hours in their car – if they are lucky enough to have one – in the latter stages of labour and then wait while their partner parks. Your impact assessment observes that there is poor connectivity and congestion for people in the north of the county trying to get to Oxford. Yet the CCG’s proposals rely on models applied to metropolitan and largely urban areas, overlooking the rural nature of much of the county. Can you be sure that all travel options have been explored and considered?

Significant for all other services at the Horton. The Horton General Hospital provides almost a third of the county’s A&E. The decision you make take today may inadvertently put the ability to do this at risk. Training accreditation for anaesthetists has been removed this month. Please ensure you are fully sighted on the knock-on effects before making your decision.

I accept that recruitment is a national problem but can you be sure that the Trust has not explored all options when it has neither taken up our offers of help with recruitment, including discounted housing and school fees, nor has it engaged with the District Council’s offer of golden handshakes.

Can you be sure that there has been robust critical analysis of the workforce modelling on which you can base a decision? Has there been sufficient exploration of the suggestion for a Banbury Health Campus worked up by the District Council?

Can you be sure that local clinicians have been properly consulted? I have heard from local GPs who tell me they are worried their voices are not being heard. They are tired of the process. It has not felt like a consultation to them. 

In 2008, the Independent Reconfiguration Panel was left with a sense that the Horton was viewed as a problem to be solved rather than a development opportunity, and encouraged the Trust to recognise the Horton’s positive future as an integral part of its future vision.

Can you be sure that this has happened? The Trust have told me that they are ready with their options for Phase 2, and have been for the past year. The CCG has told me that it is only just starting work on Phase 2 and consultation is unlikely until May 2018. A new Chief Executive and Clinical Lead also need to be appointed.  We have three referrals to the Secretary of State from various HOSCs, and a judicial review, which is very much still live, brought by five councils. 

In these circumstances, I ask you to make the decision on stroke care (Proposal 2) but to park decisions on Proposals 1 and 5 – bed closures and maternity – until the full picture is assessed and we have the answers we need.

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