Councillors Hannah Banfield and Sean Woodcock
Councillors Hannah Banfield and Sean Woodcock

At the end of November, the Horton Health Oversight and Scrutiny Committee voted to dropping the pursuit of further legal challenges against the decision to remove consultant-led maternity services at the Horton General Hospital. The decision leaves those in Banbury and the surrounding villages stuck with a daunting journey to access specialist services (and be reassured of the availability of consultant-only interventions like epidural anaesthetic) at the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford.  The move also affects Bicester residents, limiting the options of those concerned about the (in normal times) frequent traffic issues and delays on the A34.

Acknowledging the chances of success were not good (estimated to be at most to be 30%), both Labour members had urged the committee to fight on, and voted against the decision.

“We must now be brave just like those mothers that gave their personal testimony of giving birth in Banbury and Oxford. We must go all the way and fight to have a judicial review and not just give up on our constituents rights to give birth in Banbury.” urged Councillor Hannah Banfield. “Please remember we have a moral obligation to our constituents and Banbury is a growing Town.”

Indeed, as Councillor Banfield points out, there is substantial growth in Banbury and across Cherwell district which will be ill served by the loss of this service.

“I’m minded to be that voice saying ‘We should not stop.'” said Councillor Woodcock. “That was our promise and our commitment as elected councillors. To keep trying. It is what I think my voters would expect having made all those promises.”

Councillor Banfield gave us this statement after the decision was made:

“As elected councillors and citizens of Banbury, both myself and Councillor Woodcock are extremely disappointed and bewildered that the other elected members of the Horton HOSC  committee choose not to fight for a judicial review. Their decision will have a negative impact on the lives of most of our citizens now and in the future.”

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