MP will continue to support hospital campaigners

By Sarah Edwards at

North Oxfordshire MP Victoria Prentis has said she will continue to do all she can to support campaigners who are fighting to save services at The Horton General Hospital in Banbury.
The Horton General Hospital is a vital and much-loved asset for the residents of Banbury and North Oxfordshire. Victoria was born at the Horton, and she has long been a supporter of retaining the vital services it provides to Banbury and the surrounding area.
In October contingency plans were put in place 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 to recruit enough middle-grade obstetric doctors to vacant positions.
In recent months Victoria has 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, Victoria has been working closely with local MPs and asked a Question to the Prime Minister about the changes to the Horton maternity unit.
She made a speech about the Horton during Baby Loss Awareness week 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 at the hospital, which saw the downgrade of the maternity unit to a midwife-only service with no public consultation.
Following the downgrade of the maternity unit, a number of services at the Horton may be at risk including A&E, Gynaecology, Paediatrics and Anaesthetists.
Victoria said: “I am very upset that the Horton General Hospital maternity unit was downgraded to a midwife-led unit on 3 October. While I understand the difficulties in recruiting obstetric doctors, I firmly believe that a solution can be found to ensure obstetric services reopen at the Horton as soon as possible. I will continue to work alongside local MPs, cross-party councillors and campaign groups to ensure our maternity unit, and other vital services, are protected. Banbury needs high quality maternity care at a level that a midwifery-led unit cannot provide.”
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 this month.
In the period from Monday 3 October to Tuesday 20 December, there were 44 births at the Horton, and seven transfers of women in labour to the John Radcliffe.
Further information can be found on the Trust’s website at http://www.ouh.nhs.uk/hospitals/horton/news/obstetrics.aspx.
Following the review, Victoria said: “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.”