THE FIGHT goes on against proposed downgrades to services at Horton General Hospital in Banbury – used by a number of residents in the district.
Stratford District Council, together with Cherwell District Council, South Northamptonshire Council, Stratford District Council and Banbury Town Council argued a consultation into the proposals was inadequate, fundamentally flawed and confusing for people who wanted to have their say on the future of the hospital.
And a judge has now ruled in favour of the authorities pushing for a judicial review into the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group’s (OCCG) consultation on changes to services including maternity, critical care and hospital bed use.
Mr Justice Fraser, sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, ruled the councils should be granted a three-day hearing at which they could challenge the way in which the consultation was run and make the case for a full judicial review. It is expected that the hearing will take place later this year.
The councils had sought specialist advice from the legal and medical professions to help put forward proposals for the way the Horton General Hospital could best serve the area in the years to come.
In a joint statement, the council leaders, including Stratford leader Chris Saint, said: “Rather than encouraging those who rely on services such as a consultant-led maternity unit to have their say, the two-stage consultation made the proposed changes harder to understand. That means that the findings of the consultation were skewed, and that they are not a proper basis for downgrading essential services.
“The councils have been disappointed by the limited understanding of the effect of the proposals on the people of north Oxfordshire and surrounding areas and particularly the lack of consultation with over 35,000 potential patients referred by their doctor in south Warwickshire to the Horton General Hospital.
“The decision is good news but it is by no means the end of the battle. We are very pleased that we shall have the opportunity to have our concerns and those of local residents heard by a judge at a proper hearing, and are resolved to do right for the areas we serve and continue our fight for a full judicial review.”
The changes to maternity services mean the Horton’s maternity unit will continue to be led by midwives only, with no consultants on hand.
Following the consultation, the OCCG has also resolved to take all of the most serious critical care patients and all stroke cases directly to Oxford, to permanently close 110 beds between the Horton and Oxford Hospitals and to increase planned care at the Horton.