Health secretary Jeremy Hunt paid a low-key visit to Banbury this week to hear more about the campaign to save services at the Horton Hospital.
He met Conservative candidate for North Oxfordshire, Victoria Prentis, who spoke of her concerns about proposals to change health services across the county.
Earlier this year Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group launched the first part of a major consultation. Among the plans is to reduce the number of inpatient beds, create a central stroke unit in Oxford and make the midwife-led unit at the Horton permanent.
Mrs Prentis said she showed Mr Hunt the Horton hospital site and discussed her concerns about travel times to Oxford, population growth, traffic congestion and patient safety.
They also talked to local people and experienced part of the journey to Oxford.
Campaign group Keep the Horton General said it was not invited to the meeting.
Mrs Prentis said: “I have frequently discussed the future of the Horton with Mr Hunt and have invited him to visit the site for some time.
“I was very pleased he was able to do so. It was very helpful that he could come to Banbury in order to understand our concerns”
Meanwhile, local journalist and Horton campaigner Roseanne Edwards has confirmed she will stand as an Independent candidate for the 2017 General Election in Banbury on a Vote For The Horton ticket.
She said: “There is absolutely no reason why large, expanding communities of honest, hard-working taxpayers such as those in Banbury should lose the security of acute hospital services within reach of home.
“If our Horton services are not returned and protected – as directed by the Health Secretary in 2008 – lives will be lost.
“We cannot afford to allow that to happen. It is ‘do or die’ time.
Labour candidates for the North Oxfordshire, Stratford and Witney seats have also put the future of the Horton on their election agenda.
Laetisia Carter, who is standing in the Witney constituency, said: “The absence of an obstetrics
provision at the Horton puts mothers and their unborn children at risk, while a long journey to the John Radcliffe – on congested roads –threatens their welfare further.
“It is not right that mothers close to city centres receive better maternity provision than those in rural areas.”