Powers for local Councillors to scrutinise plans concerning the future of the Horton General Hospital have been strengthened after Conservative-led Oxfordshire County Council agreed to revise the scope of the Horton Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (Horton HOSC).
Established in 2018 following a recommendation from the then Secretary of State for Health, the Horton HOSC has played a critical role in examining the decision by Oxfordshire University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUHFT) to downgrade maternity provision at the Horton but this has been the limit of its remit. The vote this week will now see that remit extended to allow scrutiny of the masterplan for the Horton Hospital and the active pursuit of capital investment to improve the Horton site.
The proposal to broaden the scope of Horton HOSC was proposed by Horton HOSC Chairman and Deddington Conservative Councillor Arash Fatemian and seconded by Bloxham and Easington Conservative Councillor Kieron Mallon and passed unanimously.
Speaking afterwards, Councillor Fatemian said: “I am proud of the work that the Horton HOSC has done over the past two years in holding the Trust and the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to account on maternity provision. Our job is far from over and we have not given up on this fight, but we also need to consider the long-term future of our hospital. The masterplan for the Horton will be critical in shaping how healthcare in Banbury is delivered for decades to come and I am pleased that local representatives will be directly involved in that future direction.
The Horton matters to us all here in Banbury. I am grateful that, in light of local concerns, the Trust and the CCG have confirmed paediatric provision at the Horton will not be downgraded and am encouraged by their ambitions for the future of our hospital. We have a real opportunity to create a new vision for a thriving, fully functioning General Hospital fit for the needs of our growing community.
Horton HOSC stands ready to scrutinise all plans for the Horton and its services and will continue to be a strong voice for the residents of Banbury and the wider Horton catchment.”
Councillor Mallon added: “Banburyshire residents, local Councillors and MPs, and the Keep the Horton General Group have long campaigned to save and improve services at the Horton. We have always been at our strongest when we are united and one of the main strengths of the Horton HOSC is the widened catchment area with representatives from Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and Northamptonshire all involved, so we call on Warwickshire County Council and Northamptonshire County Council to follow Oxfordshire’s lead and pass a similar recommendation.
As we work towards an ambitious future vision for the Horton, the Trust and the CCG’s masterplan will require local scrutiny. We have had some challenging Horton HOSC meetings, but we do not apologise for that – that is our role. And we will continue on in that vein in the best interests of our hospital and the community it serves.”