North Oxfordshire MP Victoria Prentis has been invited to address Board members of the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group at their meeting tomorrow during which they will decide on the proposals in their Transformation Programme Phase One Consultation. Victoria will have the opportunity to speak for up to five minutes to set out her own views on the plans. Given the time limit, Victoria has also written to the Board to set out a number of questions she has having read the post-consultation reports. A full copy of her letter is available here.
VICTORIA PRENTIS MP WELCOMES HOSC REFERRAL OF OXFORDSHIRE TRANSFORMATION PROGRAMME PHASE ONE CONSULTATION
North Oxfordshire MP has welcomed the unanimous decision by the Oxfordshire Joint Health & Overview Scrutiny Committee’s to refer the Oxfordshire Transformation Programme Phase One consultation to the Secretary of State. The referral came at the end of an all-day meeting at County Hall, during which HOSC members heard from Victoria Prentis MP, Witney MP Robert Courts, Banbury High Steward and former MP the Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry and the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher, Bishop of Dorchester. Statements were also made by numerous members of the Keep the Horton General campaign group, Cherwell District Council and representatives from Healthwatch Oxfordshire.
In her own remarks, Victoria made clear that the people of North Oxfordshire are “anxious about the future of our hospital, frightened about the current safety of mothers and babies and angry about process.” She went on to address each in turn.
Speaking after HOSC’s decision to refer, Victoria said: “It is said that adversity draws people together. Nowhere was that more apparent than at today’s meeting where every person who spoke did so to express their frustration, dismay and opposition to the Clinical Commissioning Group’s Phase One consultation. The CCG Board now finds itself meeting on Thursday to decide on its proposals, yet there are three ongoing referrals to the IRP relating to the consultation, as well as an existing application for judicial review brought by five local councils. Against this background, I urge the CCG to pause any decisions until they are able to present us with a clear and full vision for health services in our area, and can reassure us that they have considered all proposals on the table particularly Cherwell District Council’s Banbury Health Campus concept.”
Ahead of the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group’s board meeting later this week, when decisions will be taken on proposed changes to healthcare in Oxfordshire, Victoria Prentis MP addressed the Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC). Victoria was just one of a number of speakers, including fellow Oxfordshire MP Robert Courts, former Banbury MP and current High Steward, the Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry, and the Bishop of Dorchester, the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher. Those who participated were united in their opposition to plans laid out in the recent first phase of consultation on the Oxfordshire Transformation Programme and urged JHOSC to make a referral to the Secretary of State.
A video as well as the full text of Victoria’s speech can be seen below:
I am here on behalf of 90,000 of my constituents and I can truly say that one this subject, we speak as one. I’m also here for those constituents of the future (we are building houses at five times the rate of the national average) and those in the large rural hinterland in Northamptonshire, Warwickshire and Buckinghamshire. Robert will deal with West Oxfordshire.
We are anxious about the future of our hospital, frightened about the current safety of mothers and babies and angry about process. I will deal with each in turn.
WE ARE ANXIOUS ABOUT THE FUTURE.
This is not just about maternity. In Banbury we have valued and trusted our hospital for almost 150 years. We have been fighting to save it for as long as I can remember. It is important – it provides around a third of Oxfordshire’s A and E for example.
BUT We know that there IS a domino effect on services; when we lose one others follow. One example: This time last year there were two anaesthetic rotas at the Horton. One has gone since obstetrics shut. Health Education England – who oversee training accreditation – have last month said that they will remove training for certain grades. They accept that this will have an effect on recruitment – yet there has been a complete refusal to engage or accept this argument.
WE ARE FRIGHTENED ABOUT SAFETY OF MOTHERS AND BABIES.
Patient safety is the top priority. We have been told repeatedly that, without sufficient consultants, the obstetrics unit cannot remain open, but this looks at safety from the wrong angle. And our efforts to help with recruitment have been ignored.
Two different groups concern me:
- The mothers who elect to give birth in the MLU as low risk and become high risk during labour. We know that a high level of transfers are taking place during or immediately after labour. We are worried by real medical difficulties which arise as a result. You will hear of some sad cases later.
- The vast majority of mothers now have to go to the John Radcliffe – whether because they are first-timers, higher risk or simply want the option of some pain relief. I am concerned that they have to spend hours in a car in the third stage of labour
Both these groups are worried about travel times to Oxford. The first group may be in an ambulance – but there has been no discussion of ambulance provision should the suspension become permanent. The second group must take its chances in Oxford traffic.
There has been no real evaluation of journey times. The consultation document relied solely on Google Maps My own travel survey showed a different picture: there were almost 400 respondents over 3 months. They told me it takes on average 1 hour and 20 minutes to travel from the Banbury area (including villages in the very north of the county) to get to an Oxford hospital. Many spent, on average, a further 20 minutes to park. This means that a patient travelling from the Banbury area can expect to enter reception at an Oxford hospital a full hour and forty minutes after departure.
WE ARE ANGRY ABOUT PROCESS.
Last summer, we faced the sudden suspension of obstetric service with no consultation. This was then followed by a chaotic split consultation by the Clinical Commissioning Group, spanning not one but two purdah periods, blighted by inadequate information and changing timelines. Most worryingly the consultation proposed no alternatives. True consultation involves choice. Despite almost universal opposition to their proposals, the CCG continues to push forward, even when two of the main architects will be leaving their roles before it is complete. The Board’s Decision Making Business Case published on Thursday last week could have been written before the consultation began.
Removing patient choice and relying on the John Radcliffe, which is already under pressure, is not the answer. The IRP concluded in 2008 that the Horton should play an integral role in the provision of services. Since then, nothing has changed except the traffic, which has got worse. The Trust have not supported the sustainability of services in the north of the county. Recruitment issues are a problem across the Trust’s multiple sites yet the Horton always bears the brunt of the changes. We continue to be seen as the outpost in the north: underfunded, understaffed, and a place where decisions can be sprung upon us rather than taken with us.
“I have now had the opportunity to read the Clinical Commissioning Group’s papers. The recommendations of the CCG Board come as no surprise.
As I have made clear, I feel that the consultation was fatally flawed. While efforts have been made to seek further evidence to support phase one of the consultation, the CCG has not addressed properly our serious concerns about the process and impact. For example, in my conversations with Health Education England, I have been told that decisions regarding maternity and critical care will directly affect the provision of anaesthetic training in Banbury. I fear this will have a knock on effect on the recruitment of anaesthetists in future. The papers before the Board do not reflect what I have been told.
Over 10,000 responses to the consultation were received by the CCG, with the vast majority against service downgrade in Banbury. I am disappointed that the CCG are recommending that the board agrees to press ahead without listening the views of patients, rendering the consultation meaningless.”
To read the CCG’s decision papers and supporting documents, please click here.
On Monday 7 August, the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) will meet to examine the Oxfordshire Transformation Consultation Phase One consultation once again. The Committee will have the opportunity to question further the Clinical Commissioning Group, and consider the responses to the recent public engagement period. The meeting will take place in the same week as the CCG Board decides on the Phase One proposals. During HOSC’s meeting at County Hall in Oxford, Victoria Prentis, Member of Parliament for North Oxfordshire, will have the opportunity to speak to put her concerns on record. In particular, she will emphasise the need to consider the 10,000 responses to the consultation, and take note of all the views expressed throughout the exercise. She also hopes to make clear that any decision on the future of the maternity unit should be paused until all recruitment possibilities have been exhausted.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Victoria said: “The joint Health and Overview Scrutiny Committee plays an important role in ensuring that any service reconfiguration is looked at carefully before it goes ahead. Throughout the Phase One period, they have taken their role very seriously, and have asked the Clinical Commissioning Group to return to a number of meetings, both to update members and to answer any further questions they might have. Next week is crucial for all of us involved in the campaign to retain acute services at the Horton General Hospital. As I made clear in a letter to CCG Board Members ahead of their meeting on 10 August, we must have a clear vision of healthcare in the county to understand properly the potential impact on the Horton General Hospital. The domino effect should not be underestimated. I am looking forward to attending HOSC to make this clear on Monday.”
“The last year has been extremely difficult for all of us in North Oxfordshire. The suspension of obstetric services at the Horton General Hospital took us all by surprise, and the Clinical Commissioning Group’s Phase One Transformation Programme consultation has been wholly inadequate. My concerns about both the process and content of the proposals remain. Over 10,000 people responded to the consultation; their views must be taken into account before any final decisions are made. Last week, I wrote to each member of the CCG Board to make this clear, and specifically urged them to pause any decision on the future of the Horton’s maternity service until all recruitment ideas have been exhausted.
Patient safety is of paramount importance. We must also ensure that decisions made in this first phase do not have an adverse impact on the future provision of acute services at the Horton General Hospital. We cannot ignore the potential domino effect. The people of North Oxfordshire and the surrounding areas must have access to care that is safe, kind and close to home.”
Following Jeremy Corbyn’s U-turn on his commitment to ‘deal with’ student debt, 147 Conservative MPs have written to Labour’s Shadow Chancellor demanding that he set out which other plans would face the axe as Labour attempt to deal with £5.8 billion in extra debt interest payments.
The letter is published alongside new analysis of Labour’s plans showing that, by the end of this Parliament, public sector net debt would be more than £250 billion higher under Labour than under the Conservatives. Based on the OBR’s current projections of the cost of government borrowing, this means Labour would spend £5.8 billion more a year in debt interest payments – the equivalent to the pay of around 65,000 nurses, 56,000 teachers and 53,000 police officers, putting tens of thousands of jobs at risk.
In reality under Labour the cost of borrowing would be even higher as their unfunded spending splurge would push up borrowing costs, with even more money being spent on debt interest rather than on vital public services.
Commenting on the letter, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, said: “As their £100 billion-pound broken promise on student debt shows, Labour aren’t being straight with the British public. Labour would take out an enormous loan, but are pretending they wouldn’t have to make cuts elsewhere to pay for it.
Families, and working people everywhere know that’s not how it works; when you take out a loan you have to pay interest on it, and that means making tough decisions on where to cut back elsewhere.
Only the Conservatives have a plan to bring down debt so we can invest in vital public services that serve families and communities right across the country.”
“The recent General Election brought out the best and worst in people. It was a passionately fought campaign for all involved, but unfortunately a number of us, myself included, were subjected to some extremely worrying and upsetting abuse. Since then, it has only got worse. The number of offensive online remarks peaked last week, prompting me to make the decision to remove all comments, both supportive and negative, from my Facebook page for the time being.
I am not alone. A number of Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum have made the same decision after acting on advice. High-level discussions about the best way forward are in progress, and I will be making my views known. Of course, everyone should have the opportunity to express their views but there is absolutely no place in our democracy for the abuse we have seen over recent months.
It is always good to hear the views of my constituents. Just last night, I held one of my regular pub tours, and I organise frequent surgeries in both Banbury and Bicester where people can raise their issues. If it is more convenient to get in touch with me online, constituents can email email@example.com. Alternatively, they can call my office on 01869 233685. I always try to reply to all questions promptly, but urgent casework does take priority.”
Major improvements to the A34 in Abingdon got the green light today (26 July 2017) after Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, pledged more than £9 million of Government funding.
Two new south-facing slip roads at the Lodge Hill Interchange will help end years of congestion and improve safety. The long-awaited scheme, which will receive up to £9.45 million over 4 years, will also boost growth in the wider Science Vale area, where up to 20,000 new jobs and 20,000 new homes will be created by 2031.
With many road users from North Oxfordshire using the A34 regularly, campaigners have stressed that safety and traffic flow need to be considered as two of the most important issues in Oxfordshire.
Victoria Prentis, MP for North Oxfordshire, commented: “Many of my constituents work in Oxford or the surrounding areas, and commute along the A34 on a daily basis. A number of them have expressed concern accidents on the stretch of road in Oxfordshire. With increased house building and a growing population in the county, it is vital that we have the appropriate infrastructure in place to cope.
Following the downgrade of maternity services at the Horton General Hospital, more and more patients are having to make the journey down dangerous stretches of the road to attend appointments or give birth. Travelling for hours when in labour is traumatic enough, without the extra worry of delays. I am pleased that the Government is providing much-needed funding for the A34; I hope the improvements will ease some of the concerns we all have about travelling around the area.”
On Tuesday 25 July, Victoria Prentis, MP for North Oxfordshire, visited the Saye and Sele Arms in Broughton as part of her Pub Tour.
The visit gave her the opportunity to meet constituents, discuss her work in North Oxfordshire and Westminster, and get feedback on what local concerns and priorities are. The Horton General Hospital was a key topic of conversation, as were Brexit, speeding in villages, and footpath access between Broughton and Banbury.
The Saye and Sele Arms is the thirty-third pub to be visited by Victoria as part of her continuing tour. She was joined by her current work experience student who benefited from the opportunity to see Victoria interacting with constituents.
Speaking after the event, Victoria said: “I always look forward to my pub tours. It is an informal setting for me to have a chat with my constituents about the issues close to their hearts. I am also really keen on anything that helps promote local pubs – they are a unique and vibrant part of British culture. Thank you to Danny and Liz at the Saye and Sele for hosting me and giving me a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes. I am sure I will be back soon!”