The Horton General Hospital is a vital and much-loved asset for the residents of Banbury and North Oxfordshire. I was born at the Horton, and have long been a supporter of retaining the vital services it provides to Banbury and the surrounding area.
In 2008, a report by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel concluded that the Horton has an important role to play in healthcare and maternity services in North Oxfordshire. The full report can be found here.
On 3 October 2016, contingency plans were put in place by OUHFT to turn the consultant-led maternity department at the Horton into a midwife led unit. The downgrade of the unit came about following the failure of the OUHFT to recruit enough middle-grade obstetric doctors to vacant positions.
Over the past year, I have met with members of the OUHFT board, patient groups, Horton staff and remains an active member of the cross-party campaign to help retain the hospital’s services. In Parliament, I have been working closely with local MPs and asked questions to the Prime Minister about the changes to the Horton maternity unit and recruitment. She made speeches about the Horton during Baby Loss Awareness week, in the Chamber after the 2015 election and presented a Ten Minute Rule Bill to the House of Commons on the importance of including local people in NHS decisions. The National Health Service Provision (Local Consultation) Bill was a direct response to events over the summer of 2016 at the hospital, which saw the downgrade of the maternity unit to a midwife-only service with no public consultation.
The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) then ran a healthcare consultation from January to April of 2017, proposing changes to maternity, stroke care, critical care, acute beds and planned care.
On 10 August 2017, the CCG voted to support the following proposals from Phase One of their 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.
“I am very upset that the decision has been made to permanently downgrade the Horton General Hospital maternity unit. While I understand the difficulties in recruiting obstetric doctors, I firmly believe that all avenues for recruitment have not been exhausted. The public consultation was meaningless. 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.”- Victoria Prentis (11 August 2017)
News from the campaign:
18 September 2019: Victoria writes to the Postgraduate Dean, Dr Michael Bannon, requesting that he reconsiders training accreditation for the Horton.
16 September 2019: Victoria makes statement on CCG decision. Read full statement here: https://www.victoriaprentis.com/news/mp-wont-give-horton-fight
19 December 2018: Victoria speaks at Banbury HOSC evidence session. Read the full speech here: https://www.victoriaprentis.com/news/victoria-prentis-mp-contributes-ho…
28 September 2018: Victoria attends innuagural 'Horton HOSC' meeting with colleagues.
July 2018: Victoria writes to new Secretary of State, Matt Hancock about the Horton General Hospital
- 24 July 2018: Horton and maternal safety raised during Health Questions.
Victoria welcomes IRP’s recommendations:
- 11 January 2018: Secretary of State refers Horton decision to Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP)
Victoria writes to the Secretary of State following the outcome of the Judicial Review
Victoria writes to David Smith following Dr Walsh’s comments at the Community Partnership Network meeting
Victoria speaks in a debate on the future of healthcare in Oxfordshire, secured by Witney MP Robert Courts:
Robert Courts MP and Nadhim Zahawi MP join Victoria in writing to the CCG to request that no changes are made to the Horton’s maternity unit until judicial review and HOSC referrals have run their course:
- 17 August 2017: MPs to Oxon CCG re permanent downgrade of HGH maternity unit
- 14 August 2017: Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP also writes to Oxon CCG re permanent downgrade of HGH maternity unit
Interview with BBC Radio Oxford regarding Board meeting:
Victoria releases statement following CCG decision on Phase One proposals:
Victoria writes to David Smith ahead of the Board meeting on 10 August:
The Secretary of State for Health refers the temporary closure of consultant-led maternity services to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel:
Prior to consultation decision, Victoria writes to the Clinical Commissioning Group board:
NHS England and NHS Improvement write to Victoria following their meeting
Victoria meets NHS England and NHS Improvement.
On Monday 17 July, Victoria Prentis, Member of Parliament for North Oxfordshire, met with representatives from NHS England and NHS Improvement to discuss her concerns about the recent Oxfordshire Transformation Plan Phase One consultation. Victoria was keen to make clear her views ahead of the Board meeting of the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group on 10 August.
To read the full story click here.
Victoria questions Jeremy Hunt about training accreditation.
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?”.
To read the full story click here.
Victoria uses first Commons speech of the new Parliament to talk about the Horton
Victoria writes to David Smith, Chief Executive of the Clinical Commissioning Group, regarding the consultation timeline and his retirement from the CCG
Victoria writes to NHS England regarding the new patient care test in relation to the ongoing healthcare consultation
Victoria writes to David Smith, Chief Executive of the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, about the CCG’s report on the findings of the Transformation Programme Phase One consultation
Victoria submits her response to Phase One of the Big Health and Care Consultation.
Victoria has submitted her final response to the Transformation Programme Phase One consultation ahead of this Sunday’s deadline. In her lengthy submission, Victoria spoke of her concerns about the consultation process, the content of the proposals and the level of engagement since its launch in January.
To read the full story and Victoria’s submission click here.
Victoria releases the results of her #Banbury2JR travel survey.
Victoria Prentis and her team have now compiled the responses to her survey on travel times between the Banbury area and Oxford’s hospitals. Victoria received 377 individual completed surveys. The data shows that it takes people, on average, 1 hour and 20 minutes to travel from the Banbury area to an Oxford hospital. It takes, on average, a further 20 minutes to park. The average patient travelling from the Banbury area will therefore enter a hospital in Oxford approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes after leaving their point of departure.
Victoria writes to Simon Stevens, Chief Executive Officer of NHS England, to request Freedom of Information response.
Victoria requests access to consultation document appendices.
Victoria writes to David Smith, Chief Executive of the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, about research taking place in Banbury town centre.
- 13 March 2017 – Letter from Victoria Prentis to David Smith about research in Banbury
- 16 March 2017 – Response from David Smith regarding research in Banbury
Victoria writes to David Smith, Chief Executive of the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, about the future of ambulance provision at the Horton MLU.
Victoria asks a question to the Prime Minister – 1 March 2017
During Prime Minister’s Questions on 1 March 2017, Victoria asked the Prime Minister to carry out a review into NHS maternity services to ensure that they are safe, kind and close to home.
For the full story, click here.
Victoria asks Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group for additional consultation meeting in Bicester
Victoria writes to the Joint Health and Overview Scrutiny Committee (JHOSC) regarding her concerns about Phase One of the Oxfordshire Transformation Programme
Victoria writes to Paul Brennan about the future of the Ramsay Treatment Centre in Banbury – 9 February 2017
Victoria questions the inclusion of maternity in consultation following referral – 8 February 2017
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.
For the full update click here.
Victoria writes to Dr Bruno Holthof about the consultation and the public meeting of 25 August 2016 – 7 February 2017
- 7 February 2017 – Letter to Dr Bruno Holthof, Chief Executive of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Victoria and Robert Courts welcome the referral of maternity decision to the Secretary of State – 2 February 2017
Victoria Prentis and 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.
For the full update click here.
Victoria attends first consultation meeting – 26 January 2017
On Thursday 26 January, Victoria Prentis attended the first of twelve public consultation meetings, organised by the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG).
On 16 January 2017, the OCCG launched the first phase of the Oxfordshire Transformation Programme, ‘The Big Health and Care Consultation’. As part of the process, a number of public meetings are being organised across Oxfordshire.
For the full update click here.
Victoria writes to David Smith regarding engagement with neighbouring counties – 13 January 2017
- 13 January 2017 – Letter to David Smith, Chief Executive of Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group
- 7 February 2017 – David Smith’s response
Horton Maternity Unit update – 3 January 2017
The situation surrounding the Horton General Hospital Maternity Unit was reviewed again over the Christmas period by the Trust. In a report published by the Trust, it states that the current number of obstetric doctors remains at three, and the maximum number of doctors likely to be in post at the Horton by March is five. Five is not considered to be enough to reinstate a consultant-led maternity service at the Horton.
Victoria has been informed that recruitment efforts will continue, with a number of interviews expected in January.
In the period from Monday 3 October to Tuesday 20 December, there have been 44 births at the Horton, and seven transfers of women in labour to the John Radcliffe.
Following the review, Victoria commented: “While I understand that some appointments have been made it is extremely disappointing that there will not be sufficient doctors in post in time for the full obstetric unit to reopen in March. I will continue to do all that I can to assist the Trust to ensure that normal service can resume as soon as possible at the Horton.”
Victoria meets with Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUHFT) representatives and the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG)
Throughout the week beginning 28 November 2016, Victoria organised and attended a number of meetings with the Trust and the OCCG to discuss the Horton General Hospital.
Community Partnership Network workshop – 28 November 2016
At the last CPN meeting, it was agreed that a number of Horton-specific workshops would be organised. The first workshop took place on 28 November. Along with Victoria, a number of representatives also attended the meeting including local Councillor Andrew McHugh, Peter Fisher of Keep the Horton General, Diane Hedges of the OCCG, and Trust Board members Paul Brennan, Andrew Stevens and Veronica Miller.
Attendees were updated on the temporary suspension of obstetric services at the Horton General Hospital, and also had the opportunity to discuss proposals for the Oxfordshire Transformation Project. Concerns were raised regarding the consultation process, particularly the decision to split it into two phases. Victoria made clear that it is essential for local people to have a say on the future of their local hospital; by consulting in two parts the process will be diluted and there will be considerable room for confusion. Issues surrounding recruitment and the training status of obstetricians and anaesthetists at the Horton were also raised as a matter of importance.
Victoria with Cllr Andrew McHugh at the CPN meeting
Meeting with Dame Fiona Caldicott, Chair of the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – 29 November 2016
At their meeting at Westminster, Victoria asked Dame Fiona a number of questions about the suspension at the Horton General Hospital. In particular, she raised concerns about recruitment efforts and emphasised the need for greater transparency and communication from the Trust.
Victoria also emphasised that the safety of mothers and babies in the Banbury area and beyond is of paramount importance. She will continue to meet Dame Fiona to ensure that the views of her constituents and those living in the surrounding area, continue to be heard by the Trust.
Oxfordshire MPs meet the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group – 2 December 2016
At the end of the week, some of the Oxfordshire MPs met David Smith (Chief Exec, Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group), Stuart Bell CBE (Chief Executive Officer of Oxford Health & Chairman of the Transformation Project), and Dr Bruno Holthof (Chief Executive of OUHFT). Ed Vaizey (Didcot & Wantage), Robert Courts (Witney), and John Howell (Henley) joined Victoria in discussing the Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STP). The MPs raised concerns over the Oxfordshire Transformation Programme, particularly the splitting of the consultation process. Together the MPs stressed that it is vital that the consultation is delivered as effectively and efficiently as possible, ensuring everyone has a say over the future of local health provision.
Victoria now hopes to arrange a further meeting with David Smith to discuss the consultation document, ensuring it is accessible to all of her constituents.
Victoria with Oxfordshire MPs, David Smith and Stuart Bell CBE
Victoria presents her National Health Service Provision (Local Consultation) Bill to the Commons – 25 October 2016
Victoria speaks about the Horton in Commons Baby Loss Awareness debate – 13 October 2016
Victoria asks question to the Prime Minister during Prime Ministers’ Questions – 12 October 2016
During Prime Ministers’ Questions on 12 October 2016, Victoria highlighted the cause of the Horton General Hospital to Theresa May.
Speaking up against the downgrade of Horton maternity services to a midwife-led unit, Victoria asked:
“Does the Prime Minister share my sadness that the majority of Banbury’s babies cannot currently be delivered, as I was, in the Horton General Hospital? Will she join me in using any influence and putting any pressure we can on the Trust to encourage it to recruit the obstetricians we need to reopen our much valued unit?”
The Prime Minister agreed that what matters is a safe maternity service for mother and baby.
Horton Q&A Evening, St Mary’s Church – 25 August 2016
On the evening of Thursday 25 August, several hundred people gathered in St Mary’s Church, Banbury, to pose questions to a panel consisting of representatives of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group. The event was chaired by Rev’d Philip Cochrane, who aimed questions at the panel and sought comments from the Keep The Horton General (KTHG) campaign group and the floor. Members of the public and KTHG made important points and highlighted serious concerns about the recruitment process for obstetricians, the journey time to Oxford and the Trust’s long-term plans for the Horton General Hospital.
Passions were running high, and the panel was in left in no doubt about the strength of local feeling. Many members of the public brought banners and placards, and several mothers and midwives spoke of their own experiences and concerns for the future of maternity services.
The Trust has promised to maintain a dialogue with the people of Banbury, and said it has a duty to take the views of local people into account when making decisions about the hospital’s future.
The event was organised by Banbury Town Council and Victoria Prentis MP.
Members of the public packed into St Mary’s Church, Banbury, to hear Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group answer questions on Thursday 25 August 2016.
Hands Around Our Horton – 21 August 2016
On Sunday 21 August several thousand people gathered to join hands around the perimeter of the Horton in a demonstration of public opposition to the Trust’s plans. The event was jointly organised by Keep The Horton General (KTHG), local elected officials and Victoria Prentis, and was inspired by the successful Horton protest of 2007. The turnout was even higher than had been hoped for, and the enthusiasm of the protesters was apparent to all involved. Some protesters then made their way to Banbury town centre, where a banner was raised on the Town Hall.
Victoria Prentis joins Horton protesters in Banbury town centre on Sunday 21 August.
Victoria with members of Banbury’s Rotary Clubs, which provided marshals for the protest outside the Horton on Sunday 21 August.
Maternity Unit protest – 30 July 2016
On Saturday 30 July, Victoria joined Keep the Horton General campaign and users of the hospital’s maternity services at a public protest outside the maternity unit. Several hundred people attended the event.
Victoria joins protesters outside the Horton’s maternity unit on Saturday 30 July 2016.
New and expectant mothers join Victoria, campaigners and local politicians outside the Horton’s maternity unit on Saturday 30 July 2016.