Witney Hospital should be at the forefront of health service decisions in the town.
The chairman of Witney Town Council’s planning and development committee has suggested the hospital became a ‘health hub’ or a ‘mini -Horton hospital’ in the manner of the Banbury centre.
Councillor Alan Beames suggested the move at a meeting at the Masonic Hall in Witney into the future of GP services across the county.
He said: “Witney Hospital is the central hub of all local services.
“We talk about surgeries but the hospital actually works on a much wider area.
“Oxford is where all the services currently are. We need to start forgetting about Oxford – it’s a dormant town – it’s not going to grow.
“It can’t meet its own housing needs. All houses being built are outside Oxford so we need to start focusing on larger facilities – Witney Hospital needs to grow, not shrink.”
Local councillors have backed the call for more services to be run from the community hospital.
Witney town councillor and deputy mayor Brenda Churchill said if more health services were based at the hospital then fewer people would have to travel to the Oxford hospitals.
She said expanding services at Witney hospital was necessary to cater for the town’s growing population.
She said the town was also looking at community surgeries, which would be run by charitable organisations, to ensure there were enough GP surgeries in Witney as it expanded.
Jeanette Barker, West Oxfordshire District Council’s member for health, said she was “keeping a watching brief” on proposals from the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) which has launched sessions across the county to review primary care.
She said: “One of the things I feel comfortable with is that at the moment Witney hospital will not close, and what they are looking at is it becoming far more efficient in its services going into the next phase.
“I think if it becomes a diagnostic centre it will prove very efficient as people will go there to be diagnosed and may be able to go home and be looked after, or recommended to be looked after differently, which may mean going to the JR.”
An OCCG spokesperson said the health provider expects to consult on the health plans next year, and that Witney hospital will form a part of that.