Hands around the Horton protest route
Close to 5,000 people took to the streets to support the “Hands around our Horton” protests at Banbury’s Horton General Hospital today. The protest, organised by Keep the Horton General as a cross-party campaign formed a one mile route of members of the public joining hands around the perimeter of the hospital, stretching from the front entrance at the Oxford Road, to Upper Windsor Avenue, along Swan Close and Hightown Road, to demonstrate against the recent proposals by the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust to convert the Horton’s maternity ward into a midwife-led unit.
The motion was set out by the Trust in July, following difficulties in recruiting new staff into obstetric and consultant posts. Last week, Clinical Director for Women’s Services, Dr. Miller told Radio Horton that the plans were a contingency and the struggles to fill middle grade doctor posts was reflected nationwide.
Speaking exclusively to Radio Horton ahead of the protest, Victoria Prentis MP advised that she would be meeting with ten other Members of Parliament from neighbouring constituencies whose residents are also concerned by the plans, together with representatives from the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust at the Horton on Monday. “We were engaged in a consultation period with the Trust, we were consulting with evidence and reports about whether we should make changes to A&E, maternity and paediatrics. Suddenly on 20th July, the Trust decided obstetrics would have to close if there were not enough obstetricians in posts by the end of the month”, Prentis said. “Banbury & Bicester are both expanding. I’ve been involved in campaigning to save the Horton since I was 7, so this is something that has been important to me for a very long time”.
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Oxford University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust’s Board of Directors will hold an Extraordinary meeting on Wednesday 31 August where a final decision will be made as to the future of obstetric services at the Horton General Hospital.
Several members of the community expressed their concerns over the proposals. Supporter and campaigner for the Keep the Horton General, Val Ingram said: “Everybody wants to keep this family hospital. I’m hoping the Trust will have a big rethink and reconsider, because their proposals are ludicrous”.
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Whilst Andrew McHugh, former Practice Manager at Horsefair Surgery in Banbury commented: “I think the protest has been fantastic. It shows how angry the people of Banbury are at the proposed cuts to the Horton General Hospital. We cannot see all acute services removed from the Horton.
“If the Trust goes ahead with this plan in September, we must fight to get it back, and we must increase maternity at the Horton”.
The Hands around our Horton demonstration saw several thousand people unite by joining hands at 10:30am on Sunday, before gathering at Banbury Town Hall en-masse at midday for a public appeal, coinciding with the annual Banbury Food Fair.
A Horton Q&A evening will take place on Thursday 25th August at St. Mary’s Church where Victoria Prentis MP and others will pose questions from the public to representatives from OUH. Questions should be emailed to [email protected] before 24th August.
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