Councillors urge CCG to hear obstetric unit evidence in Horton fight

As scrutiny of the decision by Oxfordshire University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUHFT) to downgrade maternity provision at the Horton General Hospital continues, local representatives today requested the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) hear evidence from other small obstetric units before making their final decisions about the permanent future of maternity services in Banbury.

At a meeting of the Horton Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC), Councillor Kieron Mallon (District Councillor for Calthorpe and Easington) made the following proposal which received unanimous support:  

“We {the Horton HOSC Committee} invite representatives from other small obstetric-led units to give evidence of how they work to achieve their aims and training accreditation before the September Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group board meeting.”

The proposal comes as a survey by Pragma undertaken on behalf of the CCG found that since the downgrade of maternity provision in Banbury, 75% of Cherwell residents and 93% of Banburyshire residents in South Northamptonshire would have given birth at the Horton had there been an obstetric-led service available. Significantly, this was also the case 21% of West Oxfordshire residents.

Councillor Mallon, who has been a longstanding Horton Hospital campaigner, said: “With the Clinical Commissioning Group due to make their recommendation on the long term future of maternity provision at the Horton in September, it is crucial that, before their board meeting, representatives of the CCG hear direct evidence from clinicians working in small obstetric-led maternity units with similar birth numbers to the Horton before the downgrade was implemented. We know of several smaller obstetric-led units that not only function but thrive and provide excellent care for mothers and babies. These units could be a blueprint for future maternity provision in Banbury. It can be done.”

Chairman of the Horton HOSC Committee Councillor Arash Fatemian (Deddington Division) added: “A huge amount of effort has gone into the campaign to reinstate obstetric-led maternity at the Horton, from all quarters – residents, local Councillors and Victoria Prentis MP, and the Keep the Horton General Group -  and as a community as we are beginning to see results. A recent stakeholder meeting to explore maternity options in Oxfordshire favoured 2 obstetric units (one in Banbury and one at the JR in Oxford) both with alongside Midwife-led units, but only narrowly. There is still work to be done and one key element is proving that a reinstated obstetric-led unit in Banbury would be sustainable.

The results of the Pragma survey confirmed what those of us involved with this campaign long suspected but it’s great that the decision-makers – the CCG and the Trust – now have concrete figures that point to a sustainable number of births in Banbury.”