Horton supported

More than 1000 people have joined a Facebook group supporting Banbury's Horton Hospital since new doubts were raised over the future of its maternity and children's services.

It was revealed in March 2010 how plans to get round staffing problems by having the Horton's maternity and children's units run by consultants will cost the NHS an extra £2m a year.

Campaigners are worried this will prove too expensive, especially at a time when cuts are going to be made across the public sector to tackle the UK's national debt.

Health bosses have been working for the last two years to come up with a plan to get round staffing problems.  The Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals Trust had originally planned to have midwives run the Horton's maternity unit, meaning mums-to-be with complicated labours would have had to be taken in ambulances to hospitals like the John Radcliffe in Oxford.

The plan would also have meant the closure of children's services at evenings and weekends, so sick children would also have had to go to Oxford in an ambulance.

These proposals were rejected by the Government in March 2008.  A plan has since been devised that would see consultants run the Horton's maternity and children's services, and a final decision on whether this can be implemented is due to be made later in 2010.

Kate Spencer from Chacombe, who gave birth at the Horton, is worried if the plan is rejected they will be back to square one: "Everyone knows that Oxford is just too far away to be safe.  The traffic in Oxford is terrible and if we lose services at the Horton our sick children and mothers in labour are going to have to travel for up to an hour and a half to get medical help.

"I know from personal experience because I was in labour for just 40 minutes with my second child.  Without the Horton, she would have been born at the side of the road with no medical support and anything could have gone wrong.  We don't want to see other people put in that position."

Just under 4,000 people have joined her 'Save Our Horton' Facebook group - more than 1,000 of these since the cost of the new plan was revealed in March.

A clinical panel that looked at the latest proposals for the Horton has noted their high cost.  A decision on whether the proposals can be brought in is expected by the summer.

See the 'Save Our Horton' Facebook group

The Future of the Horton General Hospital

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