Bells celebrate Horton success

Bells are going to be rung at a Banbury church to celebrate the success of the fight to keep full-time children and maternity services at the Horton Hospital.

A three hour bellringing session's due to take place between 6pm and 9pm on Wednesday 30 June 2010 at St Mary's Church on Horsefair.

Health and hospital bosses have now agreed to spend an extra £2.4m a year to get around staffing problems and keep the Horton's children's and maternity services running around the clock.

The bellringing - a traditional way of joyous occasions - has been organised by Banbury MP Tony Baldry, who has been a key player in the campaign.

"I think it is very appropriate that a public and sustained peal of bells should ring out over Banbury to celebrate all that has been achieved over a seven year long campaign to Keep the Horton General," he said.

"It was in St Mary's Church that the previous leadership of the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust unsuccessfully tried to convince the local community to accept downgrading of services at the Horton.  We were having none of it."

Teams 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.

A Peal Board will eventually be put up in St Mary's Church to mark the bellringing celebrating the Horton success.