Banbury Labour Party activists took to Banbury market place on Saturday (25 March) to talk to local shoppers about the threat to the Horton Hospital and issues affecting the NHS, and were given support from former Health Secretary Alan Johnson MP.
Councillor Sean Woodcock, says, “It was in 2008 when Alan Johnson MP, Labour Secretary of State for Health, referred the threat to the Horton to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP), and today we are still having to fight the same battles.”
Johnson said in a letter to Councillor Woodcock, “As Health Secretary on the last occasion when an attempt was made to downgrade maternity services at Horton, I referred the issue to the IRP which was clinically led and whose report recommended that the Horton General Hospital must continue to serve the local community in North Oxfordshire, and that the local Trust’s proposals failed to provide an accessible or improved service for local people.
He continued, “Far from closing down or downgrading any of these services, I supported the IRP’s recommendation that the then Primary Care Trust (work now delivered by the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group) and the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals Trust (now Oxford University Hospitals Trust) carry out further work to set out the arrangements necessary to retain and develop them.”
Joseph Walsh, Labour’s county council candidate for Calthorpe in the May elections, said of the day of action, “Many people we spoke to were not only concerned about the future of the Horton but of the NHS in general and were supportive of our campaigning. Continued cuts to the NHS and Social Care are having a deep impact on the lives of ordinary Banbury people.”
He continued, “Yes there is more money going in to the NHS but it is not keeping pace with demand and most of that extra money is going into acute hospital care and not into primary care or into the social care sector. This means people turning up to A&E because of the failure of social care provision, or because they cannot get a GP appointment or there are no out-of-hours services.
Social Care is now a failed sector and bed blocking is the result, putting even more pressure on hospitals. A report this year by BBC’s Panorama found that Ninety-five UK councils have had home care contracts cancelled by private companies struggling to deliver services on the funding offered”
Former GP Roger Shapley (pictured above) said, “Transferring acute care to Oxford and using the Horton as a diagnostic centre assumes Primary Care, Community and Social Services can pick up the pieces. How that will happen is not stated or costed and it doesn’t figure in the Consultation either.”