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Horton Challenge dismissed

A legal challenge to a consultation about the future of services at the Horton has been dismissed.

Following a two day hearing earlier this month, High Court Judge Mr Justice Mostyn has announced his decision to dismiss a judicial review led by Cherwell District Council, which accused Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) of carrying out a flawed and confusing consultation process.

It was because the consultation was split into two parts.

The challenge had been brought to London’s High Court by Cherwell District Council, with support from South Northamptonshire Council, Stratford-on-Avon District Council and Banbury Town Council acting as co-claimants.

Cllr Barry Wood, leader of Cherwell District Council, said: “Cherwell District Council and its partner councils in the judicial review relating to the Horton General Hospital are bitterly disappointed by the judgement from our legal challenge. The council is very aware of the significant concern of local people about the withdrawal of acute services at our local hospital and felt that a legal challenge was an appropriate action to take to reflect the extent of that concern.

"Despite this, the council will not ‘rest on its laurels’ and will now focus its attention on the referral of the withdrawal of the obstetrics service to the Secretary of State for Health and his hopeful instruction to his specialist panel to review that decision.”

Cherwell appealed six points relating to the two-phase consultation process led by OCCG, but all were dismissed by High Court Judge Mr Justice Mostyn. These focused on;

The interdependencies of clinical disciplines and the split consultation
Misleading maternity information
Insufficient information
Not meeting the new Government test for hospital bed closures
Legitimate expectation
Inadequate ambulance service effect.

The OCCG consulted on five key proposals which included taking all of the most serious critical care patients and all stroke cases directly to Oxford. The consultation also proposed changing the way hospital beds are used and permanently closing almost 200 beds between the Horton and Oxford hospitals.

A key aspect of the changes would involve changes to the maternity unit and replacing a consultant-led service with only midwives. Campaigners argued this could put expectant mums from Banbury at risk by forcing them to travel to Oxford or elsewhere to give birth.

The OCCG says midwife-led units are an excellent option for women with low-risk pregnancies.

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