The following requests to speak at Agenda Item 7 had been agreed:
- Jenny Jones-Claydon – as a member of the public;
- Keith Strangwood – as Chairman of ‘Keep the Horton General’ campaign Group
- Cllr Andrew McHugh – Cabinet Member for Health, Cherwell District Council
Jenny Jones – Claydon
Jenny Jones spoke as an informed member of the public with more than 10 years’ experience attending meetings associated with the Horton Hospital. She stated her view that the list of options was incomplete. She stated that when the Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee was addressed in August 2017, she had indicated that the General Medical Council would allow each of the obstetrics trainees from the John Radcliffe Hospital to work 8 hours per week at the Horton. It was her view that no attention had been given to this by the CCG. She asked that this be included as an additional option.
With regard to the engagement plan to consider the options, it was her view that responses to questions from the public on the website contained so much ‘spin’, adding that this was not a substitute for face-to-face dialogue. She pointed out that the CPN Plan was non-statutory, asking that OUH and the CCG do not use this non-statutory status as reasons not to answer questions.
Keith Strangwood pointed out that the obstetrics unit had now been closed for two years. He made reference to some individual cases of mothers who had given birth which he had personally sent to the members of the Committee, and stated that there were many more cases to follow.
He also made reference to certain information currently in the media that this Committee did not have the power to refer again to the Secretary of State, which was not the case, but that there would be no concrete decisions made by this Committee until May 2019. He expressed a hope that this matter be not ‘pushed into the long grass again’ as the mental stress this had caused had been substantial.
He urged the Committee to opt for option 9 in the paper, it being the only viable one in his view.
Cllr Andrew McHugh
Cllr McHugh expressed his concern that, in his view, a safe maternity service could not be delivered at the Horton on the grounds that it had proved impossible to recruit sufficient staff, this having been under threat since before 2008. He referred to the high living costs in the County and the costs of housing, albeit these were lower in the Banbury area. He made reference to a report produced by the Royal College of Nursing which suggested that the recruitment of obstetricians and gynaecologists was set to improve which should attract candidates for employment at the hospital. Cllr McHugh stated that Cherwell District Council believed that a safe and efficient obstetrics service given at the Horton Hospital would lead to a vibrant future for the hospital, whilst leaving the complex cases to the John Radcliffe Hospital. He pledged that Cherwell District Council would work collaboratively with the OCCG to re-establish an obstetrics service at the Horton. In conclusion he urged the Committee to approve option 9.