North Oxfordshire MP Victoria Prentis has praised the work of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel and welcomed their recommendation for further work to be undertaken before a final decision is made about the future of maternity services at the Horton. The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has accepted the Panel’s advice and suggested that a joint overview and scrutiny committee which spans the Horton’s catchment area – and covers all the local authorities – is set up to monitor progress going forward.
Victoria Prentis MP said:“I am extremely grateful to Oxfordshire’s Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee for their referral and to the IRP for their thorough assessment. It has been a profoundly difficult situation for all of us who use the Horton, particularly for those who have been affected by the closure of the obstetric unit. The IRP’s conclusion that further work needs to be undertaken comes as a huge relief and is recognition of what many of us have been saying repeatedly since the flawed consultation process began. Not only do they recognise the obvious interdependencies of services at the Horton, but they make it very clear that consideration must be given to the provision of antenatal care, travel and parking arrangements and local growth before any final decision is made.
“The IRP’s report follows a very critical review of health services in Oxfordshire undertaken by the Care Quality Commission, and last week’s decision by the Clinical Commissioning Group to pause Phase Two of the Transformation Programme. Judicial review proceedings continue. It is time for us to draw a line under the past two years. We need to start again with a blank sheet, and work together to focus on a real vision for the future of healthcare in Oxfordshire. I am looking forward to uniting with others across county boundaries who use the Horton to ensure our voices are heard.”
Cllr Arash Fatemian, Chairman of Oxfordshire’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee added:“The IRP’s report vindicates the anger and frustration which has been felt across our community for almost two years. It has been a difficult and uncertain time and while the IRP has not put forward an immediate solution, a restart of the consultation process will afford us the opportunity to have our voices genuinely heard.
“I call on the CCG to recognise the importance of the messages laid down by IRP. This is a chance for the CCG’s new leadership to embrace the issue and move forward constructively. I will seek to action the creation of an extended Scrutiny Committee to ensure the views of our neighbours in Warwickshire and Northamptonshire are also represented.
“We should not be daunted by going back to the drawing board nor should this be considered by the community as a step backward. It is an opportunity for us to revive our united front and fight our corner. We will leave no stone unturned to get the best outcome for residents of Banbury and surrounding areas.”