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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.

VICTORIA PRENTIS MP WELCOMES HOSC REFERRAL OF OXFORDSHIRE TRANSFORMATION PROGRAMME PHASE ONE CONSULTATION

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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.”

Victoria Prentis addresses the Oxfordshire Joint Health and Overview Scrutiny Committee

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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:

  1. 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.
  1. 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. 

 

VICTORIA PRENTIS TO SPEAK AT Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee MEETING

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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.”

Victoria’s Pub Tour continues at the Saye and Sele Arms, Broughton

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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!”

Victoria reflects on a ‘difficult year’ for the Horton

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“Today marks one year since I was told that the obstetric service at the Horton General Hospital was facing a recruitment crisis and would be suspended pending a decision by the Trust’s board later on in the summer. It has been a difficult year for us all, particularly new parents and their babies, and concern remains around the current and future arrangements.

During the past year I have had numerous meetings with Ministers, other local elected representatives, the Clinical Commissioning Group and the Trust. I have raised it on the floor of the House on numerous occasions: in departmental questions, in a Private Member’s Bill, and in speeches; today, I even mentioned it during Church Commissioners questions!

The CCG Board will make a decision on Phase One of their consultation on 10 August. From the conversations I have had in recent weeks with NHS England, NHS Improvement and Health Education England they can be in no doubt about the strength of feeling locally. I hope that any further decisions on the future of maternity at the Horton can, at the very least, be paused until we have a clearer vision of health services so that they remain safe, kind and close to home.”

NORTH OXFORDSHIRE MP SUPPORTS YOUTH PARLIAMENT MOTION IN HOUSE OF COMMONS

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On Monday 17 July 2017, the Rt Hon. Andrea Leadsom MP, Leader of the House of Commons, and Michael Ellis MP, Deputy Leader of the House of Commons, tabled a motion in the to welcome the work of the United Kingdom Youth Parliament (UKYP) and allow them to use the Chamber for their annual House of Commons Sitting. The motion was passed with unanimous support. The UKYP is the only group other than MPs allowed to debate from the green benches, and they have been doing so annually since 2009.

The UKYP provides opportunities for 11-18 year olds who have been elected locally by their peers to bring about social change through meaningful representation and campaigning. Elected representatives traditionally meet twice a year, once in summer and every November in the House of Commons. 16 March 2009, Members of Parliament voted to allow UK Youth Parliament to debate in the Chamber; their first sitting took place in October 2009, marking the first time that the Chamber has been used by a group other than MPs.

Yesterday’s motion allows the UKYP to meet once a year in the Chamber of the House of Commons for the duration of the current Parliament, and was supported by a cross-party group of MPs, including Victoria Prentis, MP for North Oxfordshire.

Following the motion, Victoria commented: “Youth engagement is a vital part of politics. It is so important that young people have the opportunity to participate in its processes and represent the views of their peers.

 In previous years, Youth Parliament has had the opportunity to come to Westminster and have a lively discussion on the green benches on a range of extremely relevant subjects including mental health. Locally, my Democracy Challenge will be returning for a third year, and this time around will take place during Parliament Week which runs from 13-17 November. This is a good opportunity for pupils to improve skills in areas such as public speaking and debating.

 We are seeing a rise in youth participation. It is a really exciting development for national politics, and it is important that, as MPs, we continue to engage with our younger constituents.”

Secretary of State for International Development repeats her support for Singing for Syrians

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Victoria Prentis MP spoke in International Development Questions on Wednesday 12 July 2017, raising the issue of aid spending in the region around Syria and thanking the Speaker and the Secretary of State for their support of her own charity initiative, Singing for Syrians.

Speaking after the question session, Victoria said: ‘Since it started in 2015, the Government has been very supportive of Singing for Syrians so I was grateful for the Secretary of State’s response to my question on Wednesday. There were 85 events in 2016 – many of which took place in North Oxfordshire – and we raised a fantastic £140,000 for the Hands Up Foundation. So far, the money has gone to paying the salaries of the medical team in Aleppo, funding a prosthetic limb clinic and we are now focusing on supporting a school for disabled children in Damascus. The initiative really does help the most vulnerable who remain in Syria and the surrounding region.

We are now gearing up for the re-launch in September, and have already fixed a date for our flagship event in St Margaret’s Church, Westminster on Tuesday 12 December. The concerts are really easy to organise, so hopefully people in North Oxfordshire will consider holding their own.’

More information and fundraising packs can be found at www.singingforsyrians.com or email victoria.prentis.mp@parliament.uk.

 

The below account is taken from the Official Report from 12 July 2017:

Mr Speaker: Order. We might not reach the question tabled by the hon. Member for Banbury (Victoria Prentis), so if she wants to come in now, she can, although it is not obligatory.

Victoria Prentis (Banbury) (Con): How kind! May I use this opportunity to thank you, Mr Speaker, for your support for Singing for Syrians? I also thank the Department for International Development for its support. As a result of all the support we have received from across the House, Singing for Syrians is now able to support not only medical aid in Syria but a school for disabled children. Does my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State agree that aid is always worth more when it is spent in the region, and that what the people caught up in this terrible conflict really want is to be able to stay as close to home as possible? [900369]

The Secretary of State for International Development (Priti Patel): My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I congratulate her and everyone else who has been involved in Singing for Syrians. It is an incredible charity, and I commend her for her work. She is right to highlight the fact that providing support in region is what makes a difference in terms of changing and saving lives. We have led the way in this. The United Kingdom has spent more than £2.46 billion in Syria and the region, providing hope and opportunity to those who have been displaced through conflict.

 

VICTORIA PRENTIS MP REOPENS BICESTER GREEN WITH MAYOR AND COUNCILLOR, LES SIBLEY

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On Friday 7 July, Victoria Prentis joined Bicester Mayor, Cllr Les Sibley to reopen Bicester Green at their new purpose-built premises next to Garth Park.

Bicester Green is a local organisation supporting waste reduction by taking bikes, furniture and electrical items from landfill to refurbish and repair. As a body reliant on volunteers, Bicester Green brings together a variety of skills from within the community, as well as providing education and training for its members.

In addition, Bicester Green is now advertising practical training courses for anyone who is unemployed and wants to develop new skills and widen their career opportunities.

Following the opening, Victoria commented: “I thoroughly enjoyed looking around Bicester Green’s new, purpose-built premises and meeting volunteers. It was a pleasure to join Cllr Les Sibley for the opening, and get involved in this exciting new era for the group.

Litter and waste are important issues for me, and Bicester Green is a prime example of a valuable community asset that is totally committed to tackling social problems.”

For more information about the work of Bicester Green, visit www.bicestergreen.org.uk/.

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