Campaign to reverse the downgrading of a hospital’s maternity services
A long-running campaign to reverse the downgrading of a hospital’s maternity services has “come to the end of the road”, a councillor has said. The unit at Horton General Hospital in Banbury, Oxfordshire, was changed to a midwife-led unit in 2017. Attempts by campaigners to have the decision overturned by the Department of Health (DoH) have failed.Now scrutiny committee chairman Arash Fatemian has said a judicial review has little chance of success.
Campaigners have been opposed to the hospital losing its obstetric-led maternity services since the original decision was made in 2016. It has led to women needing an obstetrician during labour having to travel to the John Radcliffe Hospital, in Oxford, or to Warwick.
Mr Fatemian, chairman of the Horton Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, said he would advise against a judicial review “with the heaviest of hearts”.
He said he was “both angry and bitterly disappointed” and that the downgrade was “not in the best interests of local mothers and babies”.
Victoria Prentis, MP for Banbury, said the campaign had been “hard fought by the whole community” and called the decision not to have the matter referred on to an Independent Reconfiguration Panel “disappointing”.
But she said “now is not the time to give up”, adding that the hospital could still start a “new, more positive chapter”.
She said there was hope in the shape of the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust masterplan.
Ms Prentis said the “realistic and deliverable project” could put the hospital in a better position to receive funding.
She added: “My hope is that we can continue to work together as a community, alongside our local health authorities, to unite behind our vision and demonstrate that we genuinely deserve this funding.”
A spokesperson for Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group said it had “carried out a thorough and complex piece of work” to “fully understand current and future demand for maternity services in Oxfordshire” with Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
They added: “We have shown over the last four years that the current service is safe and effective, with improved outcomes for mothers and babies.
“However, we made a commitment to a regular review of the current arrangements.”
The review, due to take place next year, will look at any changes to birth numbers or projections for population and housing growth, and assess the quality of maternity services in the county.
Article originally appeared on BBC News.
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