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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/.

VICTORIA PRENTIS MP SUPPORTS THE BRITISH COUNCIL’S FUTURE LEADERS CONNECT SCHEME

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Victoria Prentis, MP for North Oxfordshire, is supporting the British Council’s search for a new generation of leaders to join individuals from ten other countries for an intensive policy and leadership programme. Future Leaders Connect, launched this year by the British Council, will offer nine days of leadership learning and development for young people to provide them with the skills they need to turn innovative ideas into tangible policy recommendations. Those taking part will meet some of today’s leading thinkers from public, private, third sector and political worlds.

 

Commenting after meeting representatives from the British Council at the House of Commons, Victoria said: ‘I am a huge supporter of any initiative that gets young people from different countries engaging with each other. I really benefitted from a similar scheme, and my own daughters go on foreign exchanges every year. We need to inspire the leaders of the future from all over the world, and I am really excited about this new opportunity from the British Council. I would urge any young people from North Oxfordshire who want to make a difference to apply.’

 

Sir Ciarán Devane, the Chief Executive of the British Council, said: ‘An international outlook is vital for the future leaders of all countries, if they wish to overcome the challenges they will face. Through Future Leaders Connect the British Council will help a new generation to understand practical policy development by putting them in contact with the leaders of today. The programme will help them to develop the skills and international contacts they need to make positive change in their countries.’

 

Anyone who would like to take part needs to submit an online application by 23.59 Thursday 20 July 2017 (BST). They will be asked what their unique policy ideas are and about their experience as a leader. www.britishcouncil.org/future-leaders-connect.

 

Ten finalists from across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales will be awarded a fully funded place as part of Future Leaders Connect. They will join finalists from Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tunisia and the USA.

BANBURY MP QUESTIONS JEREMY HUNT ABOUT TRAINING ACCREDITATION

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During Health Questions in the House  on Tuesday 4 July, Victoria Prentis MP took the opportunity to ask the Secretary of State for Health, the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, about training accreditation and the potential domino effect on service provision following a decision by Health Education England.

She asked: “Will the Secretary of State reassure my constituents that the component parts of the NHS can communicate with each other sufficiently to ensure that decisions such as the one by a medical dean to remove accreditation for anaesthetic training will not lead to the closure of A&E departments in hospitals such as Horton general, where my father was treated so well last Friday?”.

Following the downgrade of the Horton’s maternity unit, owing to staff shortages and a lack of training accreditation for obstetricians, Victoria was keen to impress the importance of training in relation to the long-term sustainability of acute hospital services. In his response, the Secretary of State agreed that changes to training patterns must not interrupt the delivery of local services in a “disadvantageous way”.

Speaking afterwards, Victoria said: “There is no doubt that the loss of training accreditation for obstetricians in Banbury has had a detrimental impact on maternity services in the area. It is vital that the same does not happen to A&E, and anaesthetic training is retained at the Horton. A knock on effect from the removal of any further training would further inhibit our hospital services. I am glad that I had the opportunity to raise this matter with the Secretary of State for Health, and I will be meeting the Dean of our local Trust soon to discuss my concerns.”

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