Horton plans approved
NHS bosses have agreed to spend an extra £1.5m a year to keep children's and maternity services running full-time in Banbury.
It's the first part of a rescue package to secure the future of the Horton Hospital. The money will be spent employing consultants, to help get round staffing problems.
The board of NHS Oxfordshire approved the plans at a meeting in Wantage on Thursday 27 May 2010. The board of the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals Trust now also has to approve the plans, which would see them contribute an extra £900,000 a year.
Health bosses have been working for the last two years to come up with a plan to get round the recruitment problems plaguing the Horton, which stem from the fact it's a small hospital so there aren't many opportunities for trainee doctors to get the experience they need of dealing with complex cases.
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.
Kate Spencer from Chacombe, who gave birth at the Horton, has been a long-time supporter of maternity services: "Everyone knows that Oxford is just too far away to be safe," she said.
"The traffic in Oxford is terrible and if we lose services at the Horton our sick children and mothers in labour [would] 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."
The board of the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals Trust are due to make their decision on the consultant plans on the 14 June 2010.