Banburyshire MPs have welcomed Oxfordshire county councillors unanimous vote in favour of referring the temporary closure of Banbury’s consultant-led maternity unit to the Secretary of State for Health.
North Oxfordshire MP, Victoria Prentis and Robert Courts, MP for Witney which includes Chipping Norton, have described the decision by the joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC), yesterday, Thursday, as a ‘breakthrough’ and ‘absolutely right’.
County councillor for Deddington Arash Fatemian, introduced the motion on the grounds there was now no prospect of the full service resuming in March.
In a discussion over the management of pressures under urgent care, Kieron Mallon councillor for Bloxham and Easingto), Eddie Reeves, Conservative candidate for Calthorpe Division and Ian Davies, director of operational delivery at Cherwell District Council expressed their concerns about the way in which the decision to suspend obstetric services at the Horton had been taken by the OUHFT last August, saying it had a detrimental impact on patient safety and choice in north Oxfordshire and beyond.
MP Victoria Prentis MP said: “I am absolutely delighted HOSC has referred the ongoing suspension of obstetric services at the Horton to the Secretary of State. Ever since the trust board’s decision in August last year, I have been trying my best to get HOSC to refer the decision.
“At their meetings in September and November, they indicated they did not feel it necessary to do so, given the trust’s assurances the service would resume in March. As that has become increasingly unlikely, the people of north Oxfordshire have been faced with a change in service on which they had absolutely no say. It was essential that HOSC referred this decision to the Secretary of State.
“HOSC’s decision is a major breakthrough for all of us who have been campaigning hard against the downgrade. The cross party nature of this campaign is apparent in the unanimity shown.
“It will be interesting to see how the decision to refer will impact the Oxfordshire Transformation Programme split consultation exercise which is ongoing, and about which I continue to have grave concerns. The fight continues, but I am confident that the Secretary of State will take this issue very seriously.”
MP Robert Courts said: “The ramifications of the suspension of obstetric services at the Horton go far beyond the residents of Banbury.
“My constituents in West Oxfordshire would face horrendous travel times if this important service were to close. If expectant mothers have to travel to Oxford or further for treatment I would be seriously concerned about the impact on their health.
“The decision by the HOSC to refer this to the Secretary of State is absolutely right. This matter needs more scrutiny and consultation and should never have been so light.
“I continue to have major concerns about the split consultation taking place on Oxfordshire’s Transformation Plan. The decision will surely impact this consultation. I am ready to fight to ensure this matter is fully considered by the Secretary of State and I eagerly await his decision.
“As the wider consultation process continues, I will ensure that constituents’ concerns are heard and responded to.”
Cllr Fatemian said: “I was pleased to have the opportunity to table this important motion at the meeting. It was the right time and the right decision was made. My thanks to the committee for their cross-party and unanimous support.”