Banbury hospital maternity changes referred to minister

Image source, OUH
Image caption,
Plans to change maternity services at Horton General Hospital have met 'significant public opposition'

Plans to permanently change maternity services at a hospital in Oxfordshire are being referred to the health secretary.

Because of problems recruiting doctors, Banbury's Horton General Hospital became a midwife-led unit last year.

Health bosses want to make the change permanent, despite "almost universal" opposition in a public consultation.

Now the committee that oversees the county's health services has also said it is against the plan.

At a meeting earlier, the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee decided to refer the decision to Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt, who has the option of calling for an independent review.

'Excellent option'

Banbury MP Victoria Prentis told the meeting: "We are anxious about the future of our hospital, frightened about the current safety of mothers and babies, and angry about process."

Witney MP Robert Courts and the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher, Bishop of Dorchester, also spoke in opposition to the plans.

Health bosses have said midwife-led units offer an "excellent option" for women with low-risk pregnancies.

Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) said it also needed to plug a £200m shortfall by 2020-21.

It will make a decision about whether to back the proposals on Thursday.

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