A politician is calling for a consultation over proposals to change health services in the county to “halt”.
North Oxfordshire’s Conservative MP, Victoria Prentis, has raised concerns about the quality of the current consultation and says she is worried about the impact of the proposals on the Horton General Hospital.
It comes after Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group launched a major consultation in January.
It will take place in two stages, which Mrs Prentis says is “fatally flawed” because people are not seeing the full picture.
Among the proposals are fewer inpatient beds, a central stroke unit in Oxford and a permanent midwife-led unit at Banbury’s Horton Hospital.
Phase two will review accident and emergency services, paediatric services and midwife-led maternity units.
Mrs Prentis said all the proposed changes to the county’s health services should be consulted on in one go.
Last month, during a debate in Parliament about health and social care, Mrs Prentis said: “One of the difficulties with the consultation process is that lay people – of whom I am one – are not given sufficient evidence to enable them fully to engage with the system and to have trust in the trusts that are seeking to engage them.”
She is now calling on the clinical commissioning group to “halt” the current consultation and relaunch just one setting out all the proposals.
She said: “It is clear from my own research, and the discussions that I have had with colleagues, that the current consultation process, commissioned by our CCG, is not good enough.
“We are not being provided with the full picture, and I am deeply concerned about the future of the Horton and other vital health services.
“This consultation is, in my view, fatally flawed.
“True consultation involves offering options on which the consultees can comment having seen the evidence. They need to make informed choices.
“This is not the case here. The Oxfordshire CCG must pause their consultation until they are ready to consult on all health services, together.
“Safety of patients should be paramount. Splitting the consultation does not give us a sense that it is a genuine process and it must be stopped.”
Campaign group Keep The Horton General (KTHG) has been working behind the scenes to ensure people have their say on the plans.
It has staged awareness events, which include a panel of speakers including health professionals.
The most recent took place last Thursday at St Mary’s Church, Banbury, and was attended by about 150 people according to KTHG.
Among the speakers was Youssef El-Gingihy, national campaigner; GP and author Dr Peter Fisher, a retired consultant who worked at the Horton Hospital; and Banbury GP Dr Hugh Gillies.
Campaigners also joined a national demonstration in London on Saturday.
A spokesman for Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group said: “The current proposals to improve the safety and quality of patient care locally were developed following discussions with the public, patients, NHS leaders, nurses and doctors across Oxfordshire on how we can create a better local NHS.
“The feedback helped shape proposals which are also based on clinical evidence, best practice and adherence to clinical guidance.”
People have until mid-April to make their view known. For more information view consult.oxfordshireccg.nhs.uk/consult.ti/system/register