Friday, 23 September 2016

Sadiq Khan says Get Used to Terror Attacks, They're Part of Life

Is Sadiq Khan London's worst Mayor ever?  Or just the worst Mayor possible?
First he goes prancing around America, abusing his position in London to support the Democrat side in the USA, which is known to be complicit in the setting up and arming of ISIS terrorists.


Then he goes to talk to the Mayor of New York, when there are terror attacks taking place all around in New York itself and in New Jersey, and tells him that we should all "get used to them" because they are just "part and parcel of living in a modern city" along with traffic jams.  What a shamefully weak, pathetic, supine response. We cannot trust this man with the security of London. People's lives are in danger with such a useless, completely unsuitable bungler in charge.

Anyone who voted for this creep should be ashamed of themselves. You were taken in by false promises about frozen bus fares  - promises Khan broke almost as soon as the election results were announced. Now you are stuck with a Mayor who hasn't just let bus fares rise, he has invited every terrorist in the world to put a bomb on the bus too.
It might be wise if the border control at the airport stopped him coming back into England.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Fair Representation in the UK - not Gerrymandering

Even the Electoral Reform Society opposes the government's proposals for re-drawing the boundaries of parliamentary constituencies and reducing the number of MPs.  Drawn up by supposedly independent boundary commissions, the proposed changes offer us all the wrong reforms for the wrong reasons. 

With the population of this country higher than ever before, there is simply no logical reason to reduce the number of MPs and make our votes count for less. It does not get us any closer to proportional representation, some form of which prevails in most other parliaments around the world. 
This plan was surely drawn up before the EU referendum, and was intended to shrink Parliament and reduce democracy as more and more powers were transferred to Brussels. In the EU, our Parliament would become superfluous, with no function except to rubber-stamp the decisions of Brussels bureaucrats. So the Cameron government was happy to see the House of Commons decline in numbers and power. Parliament could be left to become nothing more than a club for the likes of Keith Vaz to drop into for a bottle of taxpayer-subsidized champagne and cordon-bleu meals in the intervals of steamy cocaine-fuelled bouts with rentboys (and by the way, when is Keith Vaz going to be prosecuted for supplying Class A drugs?)
Fortunately, the #Brexit vote has made that a little more unlikely, and ensured that in the long term power does remain at Westminster. I hope too that Brexit will ensure that this country never gives votes to prisoners. The idea is an outrage. 
We don't need fewer MPs, we need better MPs. We need MPs of intellectual and moral standing.
The proposed boundary changes do seem in many cases to favour the Conservatives and disadvantage Labour. Nothing is being done to address the real, major failings of our electoral system. 
I am not particularly concerned about the omission of people who are not registered voters. If they don't bother to register, either they are apathetic or they may not be entitled to vote.
As an English Democrat, I deplore the fact that England is the only part of the UK that lacks its own parliament. English people have less autonomy than those of Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. Last October, the government introduced some steps towards alleviating this disparity, with "English votes for English laws" but the Scots still want to call all the shots at Westminster. Scottish MPs, some of them mere students, prance around dictating to the entire UK and threatening that they could or would block #Brexit, imposing their will on the will of the majority of the British people. I say that injustice, imposed by the stupid Blair government, must stop. 
Scotland actually has a smaller population than Yorkshire, yet it has far more MPs and more money spent on it per head. Voters in England are under-represented. A Scottish voter can write to his MSP or MP and get two representatives working on his behalf. A typical English voter has only his MP, and that MP represents more voters than the Scottish  - or Welsh - equivalent.
The number of Scottish MPs must be reduced, their power to vote in English matters must be curtailed, and there must be an absolute veto on any attempt by them to block decisions which the majority of English people have voted to approve. 
It is the House of Lords, not the Commons, that is far too big. There are 790 life peers now, far more than the number of MPs. It is also now far less representative of the people than it ever was when it was filled with hereditary peers. It is now full of party apparachniks and is used as a pay-off for donations to party funds or services rendered - as in the case of Shami Chakrabarty, clumsily made a peer by Jeremy Corbyn within minutes of writing her report clearing Labour of anti-Semitism. Corbyn supposedly does not believe in the House of Lords, but he believes in it when it suits him.
People were rightly indignant at the way that David Cameron, when stepping down, raised all his party chums and fund-raisers to the peerage, even putting Samantha Cameron's fashion adviser on the list. Why should Sam Cam's dresser make laws for you and me? Cameron was the man who in the presence of the Queen and Archbiship of Canterbury, gleefully burbled that the international anti-corruption conference was attended by nations that were "fantastically corrupt". Look who's talking. If you want to see corruption just look in the bathroom mirror, Dave. 
The House of Lords is full of corrupt people put there for corrupt reasons. Greville Janner could still appear there and vote when he claimed that he was too ill to appear in a court of law, and suffering from advanced dementia. The same went for Leon Brittan.
The House of Lords is full of a quite unrepresentative number of Liberal Democrats, regardless of the fact that their vote share has collapsed and their party is in terminal decline. They are shamelessly greedy, unscrupulous types, such as Lord Paddick, who claimed £9,000 earlier this year in expenses to cross the Atlantic, in order to make a four-minute speech in the Lords. That bill is footed by us, the tax-payers, and that is disgraceful. The TPA rightly highlighted it as a form of corruption. 

It is still true that women are under-represented in the British Parliament, despite all the all-female shortlists and lipservice of Blair's Babes. Women are slightly more than half of the population, yet only 25% of our elected MPs are women, 191 out of a total of 650. One reason for this is that women are regularly bullied out of the democratic process by the homosexuals who are undoubtedly over-represented, with 35 out of 650, 36 if you count Keith Vaz. Why should a minority of only 1.5% of the population have 5.5% of the seats in Parliament?  
Sarah Teather who was one of the more principled and ethical members of the Lib Dem party (what was she doing there?) found herself simply bullied out of her political career because she would not vote for same-sex "marriage" and she quite rightly voted to protect the conscience of registrars. She found herself a target of vilification and intolerance. 
The resignation of Louise Mensch in my view had a lot to do with the amount of sheer sexist bullying that she received in Parliament and in the political sphere. It is also true that Christian MPs in general are subjected to such appalling bullying that many retreat from the profession. Stephen Crabbe is the latest victim.

Something ought to be done to address all of these injustices, but the proposals of the Electoral Commissions do nothing to improve the situation, and so I hope that parliament will vote to reject them, and I hope that Mrs May follows suit.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

A Third Option Has Been Suggested to Save Horton Hospital Maternity Unit

‘Third option’ put forward to save Horton maternity unit 

A third option would see Oxford's Caesarean Section ops done in Banbury
Email 17:39Tuesday 06 September 2016 

Medics in Banbury have come up with an innovative ‘third option’ to save the future of Banbury maternity services. The maternity hospital is due to be downgraded to a midwife-only unit starting on October 3. Midwives believe the remaining Horton service would survive only a few months. Experts say their new alternative proposal would allow Special Care Baby Unit to remain in Banbury Experts have drawn up a business case for a new idea to keep the maternity unit active while offering dedicated training to Oxford staff. In the plan, the John Radcliffe Hospital would send its routine, planned Caesarean section births to be carried out in Banbury’s fully kitted-out delivery suite theatres. Having the operations done here would - enable the post natal ward and Special Care Baby Unit to be maintained - help protect the future of the children’s ward - ease anticipated pressure on JR staff and obstetric and gynaecology facilities and - prevent unnecessary expense hiring a portable operating theatre at the JR to house gynaecology ops to make way for planned Caesareans. The experts have cited parts of an OUHFT contingengy plan that admit to a worrying logjam of births at Oxford. The infrastructure is already in place in Banbury and, importantly, allowing the Horton to be kept in use would - prevent inevitable resignations of midwives and SCBU staff being forced to transfer their work to Oxford and - facilitate the smooth return to full consultant-led maternity as soon as sufficient doctors have been recruited - a move the trust has assured the Board it wishes to make. The business case says the OUHFT contingency plan describes a ‘major challenge facing OUHFT’ being emergency theatre time, post-operative recovery beds, anaesthetists and theatre staff’. The experts’ plan claims to eradicate concerns over staffing, availability of beds, weekend gynaecology operating lists and delivery theatre suite availability at the JR. The ‘third option’ suggests the Horton maternity unit would undertake up to four Caesarean section operations per day, seven days a week, potentially 28 a week, easing pressure at the JR immensely. One of the experts said: “Staff at the JR have already expressed concerns to management about staffing levels, sickness levels and infrastructure for the present birth rate at the JR, before the predicted 19 extra births per week from October 3.” Because of the comprehensive nature of the Horton unit, all midwives are already fully trained in all aspects of delivery, including theatre nursing, all categories of Caesareans, post operative and post natal care, so no extra staff or training would be necessary. The Care Quality Commission scored Banbury over the JR for patient satisfaction and the experts believe patient experience would also be maintained by this third option. “This third option will complement the midwife-only unit, save the trust money, utilize and maintain current systems of operation and ensure swift and smooth reopening of the full Horton Maternity Unit once middle grade doctors are employed,” they say. “It will also help repair the lack of trust in OUH displayed at the recent public meeting at St Mary’s Church, Banbury. “It may also help to retain staff at the Horton and JR.” The plan would also reduce costs on bank staff needed in the event of expected resignations and disruption to operating lists at the JR which would help the trust avoid expensive fines for missing targets.




Save Banbury Horton General Hospital From Extensive and Dangerous Cuts

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUHFT) is consulting on the way services are provided at the Horton General Hospital in Banbury
Their plans could take away A&E, consultant-led maternity, Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU), 24 hour / 7 day a week children's ward and intensive care.

Sign this petition
1,916 signatures

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Christian Convert Ordered to Prison in Iran Despite Failing Health

President Obama obtained the release of a few American prisoners from Iran by paying $400 million. But there has been no change to the policy in Iran of persecuting Christians.


Maryam (Nasim) Naghash Zargaran, a Christian convert who has been imprisoned since 2013 while suffering from several ailments, has been home with her family on a five-day furlough (temporary leave) since June 6, 2016 following her life-threatening hunger strike in Tehran’s Evin Prison. Now her family is repeating their demand for her permanent release. 

“We are happy they gave her furlough, but that’s not why my daughter went on a hunger strike. We want her to be free,” Zargaran’s mother, Zahra Pour-Nouhi Langroudi, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. “Maryam has served a third of her sentence and by law she qualifies for conditional release. We don’t know why she was sentenced to four years in prison in the first place.”
Langroudi added that Zargaran began her most recent hunger strike on May 29, 2016 after an Intelligence Ministry representative falsely led her to believe that one of her convictions could be overturned.
Zargaran has said she will resume her hunger strike if she is not formally released by July 7, 2016, according to her mother.
“Maryam was sentenced to four years in prison on two charges, but they had no evidence to support either one,” said Langroudi. “They accused her of preaching Christianity in Babolsar (145 miles north of Tehran) with 20 other women, but no one [was presented in court] to prove that he or she had been converted to Christianity by Maryam.”
“During the trial Judge Moghisseh joked with his staff and said: ‘What should I do, Haji? How many years do you think I should give her? Is five years good?’ And then his colleague said: ‘No! She’s too young—poor thing.’ Judge Moghisseh then said he would sentence her to four years,” said Langroudi. 

“Can a judge joke like this about sentencing someone? Shouldn’t he stick to the law and base his decision on evidence?” added Langroudi.
Langroudi also informed the Campaign that her daughter would be going to the hospital during her five-day furlough to receive treatment for health problems that have been exacerbated by her hunger strike. 
“Maryam is suffering from heart, ear, and spinal disc ailments, and neck and hand arthritis. She had heart disease before she was sent to prison and underwent an operation for it last year,” said Langroudi. “The doctors had told her that she must absolutely avoid stressful situations, but the other problems with her ear, back and arthritis are the result of her imprisonment.”

Since March 2011, Zargaran, a children’s music teacher, was regularly summoned and interrogated by security police about her alleged Christian missionary activities. She was eventually arrested on November 5, 2012 and accused of seeking property in northern Iran for an orphanage along with converted Christian pastor Saeed Abedini before he was also imprisoned for his religious beliefs in 2013.  Abedini, an Iranian-American dual national, spent eight years in prison on proselytization charges until he was released in January 2016 along with two other Iranian-Americans following a prisoner swap deal between Iran and the United Sates.

In 2013, despite having no access to legal counsel, Zargaran was sentenced to four years in prison by Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court, presided by Judge Mohammad Moghisseh, for “assembly and collusion against national security.” The Appeals Court later upheld the sentence. 
Zargaran began serving her sentence on July 15, 2013 in Evin Prison’s Women’s Ward. She has been granted furlough twice to receive specialized medical treatment.
Iran’s Protestant Christian and Christian convert community are subjected to severe persecution and discrimination, and are prosecuted vigorously for what authorities view are their proselytizing activities.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

GPs Oppose Closure of Horton Hospital, Banbury

GPs in and around Banbury have condemned the planned cuts to Horton Hospital in the strongest terms as unsafe, and protested against the prospect of closure which they say is not "inevitable". 

This is a copy of the letter the GPs have sent collectively to the Oxford University Hospital Trust. 
The issue should be getting far more coverage on local and national news.  It is disgraceful that our headline news is all about the deaths of actors or the problems of people on the other side of the world, Meanwhile in England, health care units and hospital after hospital are just being closed down.

This is an issue for all those who live in Oxfordshire and it is part of the systematic downgrading of NHS services all over England. England gets less money spent on its health care than other parts of the UK  - yet we pay the bulk of the tax.
Dame Fiona Caldicott
Oxfordshire University Hospitals Foundation Trust
24 August 2016
Dear Dame Fiona,
We write as local General Practitioners who oppose the OUH proposals to downgrade the Horton Hospital, including, but not limited to, consultant led obstetrics.
We are opposed to the proposals on the grounds of safety, sustainability and the reduction in access to basic health care and choice for our patients, which will affect especially the most vulnerable.
We maintain that a midwife led unit with a delivery rate of 450+ per annum, which is 25 miles away from the nearest obstetrician and paediatrician, is not safe. Through no fault of the midwives working in such a unit, GPs would have to consider the wisdom of
recommending mothers to this service. Numbers would drop further and the service soon become non-viable.
We believe that these proposals, and the tenor of discussions relating to them, pose a risk to the overall integrity and sustainability of The Horton as a general hospital. They
undermine the morale of its staff and impact adversely on recruitment and retention of high quality personnel. Far from creating excellence in health care in the north of the county
(where the population is increasing), they betray a lack of will, vision and imagination and consequently degrade it.
We feel the proposals
 will result in services which are unsafe and unsustainable into the future.
 are not in the best interest of our patients who will be faced with serious obstacles in both accessing services and visiting sick relatives. The most vulnerable will be hardest hit.
 will increase demands on the ambulance services and its crews and on already overstretched departments at the JRH.
 will have consequences both in medico-legal and human terms that are far reaching and expensive.
 adhere to an outmoded model of centralisation that ignores more modern trends to bring services closer to patients.
 ignore the clear recommendations of the Davidson Inquiry and the prerequisites of the agreement to merge into a single trust.
We, the GPs of North Oxfordshire, request that, with immediate effect, you use whatever power and influence you have to reverse these proposals to downgrade The Horton.
Dr Emma Haskew
For and on behalf
The GPs of
Bloxham Surgery and Hook Norton Surgery
Chipping Norton Surgery
Cropredy Surgery
Deddington Surgery
Fenny Compton & Shenington Surgery
Hightown Surgery
Horsefair Surgery and Middleton Cheney Surgery
Shipston Medical Centre
Sibford Surgery
West Bar Surgery
Windrush Surgery
Woodlands Surgery
Wychwood Surgery
The GPs' letter was sent to the following people:
Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee:
Councillor Yvonne Constance
Councillor Kevin Bulmer
Councillor Surinder Dhesi
Councillor Jane Doughty
Councillor Timothy Hallchurch
Councillor Laura Price
Councillor Alison Rooke
Councillor Les Sibley
Councillor Nigel Champken-Woods
Councillor Monica Lovatt
Councillor Susanna Pressel
Ms Moira Logie
Dr Keith Ruddle
Mrs Anne Wilkinson
Ms Julie Dean
Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group:
Mr David Smith
Dr Joe McManners
Oxfordshire University Hospitals Foundation Trust:
Mr Andrew Stevens
Mr Brennan
Dr Bruno Holthoff
Mr Geoffrey Salt
Mr Alisdair Cameron
Professor Sir John Bell
Mrs Anne Tutt
Mr Peter Ward
Mr Christopher Goard
Professor David Mant
Dr Tony Berendt
Ms Maria Moore
Ms Catherine Stoddart
Mr Mark Power
Ms Eileen Walsh
Dame Fiona Caldicott
And the Keep the Horton General campaign

Sunday, 28 August 2016

More on the Campaign to Save Horton Hospital Banbury

The campaigners to save services at Horton Hospital in Banbury are asking everybody to write to senior members of the board of the Oxford University Hospital Trust. Please do this urgently as there is an important meeting coming up this Wednesday. 

Anita Higham, chair of the governors :- 

Dame Fiona Caldicott, Principal of Somerville:-;  for PA of John Bell;;;,,,,,

We are also urged to write to our MPs and to the Prime Minister. 

It has just been revealed that the Trauma ward is threatened with closure, along with the Accident and Emergency unit, maternity and gynaecology units, the children's ward and the intensive care facilities. The entire hospital could close by the end of this year.
 The campaign leaders assert , among other things, that there has been little attempt to recruit new staff as the underlying motive is to sell off the site for housing and a quick profit.  When two junior trauma doctors left earlier this year, their jobs were not advertised.


Horton could ‘close’ by year end - medics 

Horton sources say unacceptable tactics are being used to end trauma surgery in Banbury Roseanne Edwards 

15:1814:12Sunday 28 August 2016 
 Senior Horton sources revealed this weekend that Oxford bosses are removing trauma in the same way they are taking maternity from Banbury claiming there are ‘no doctors’

Two junior trauma doctors left two months ago, giving their notice two months before but managers have still not advertised for replacements leaving the unit two short. The scenario is a carbon copy of the excuse made for removal of maternity, they say. The medics, speaking exclusively to the Banbury Guardian, said the panel at Thursday’s public meeting at St Mary’s Church was untruthful about wanting to return maternity or save Horton services. 
“The trust are not listening . They’re lying, they know they’re lying and they know we know they are lying - but they don’t care.” On the day of the meeting the Horton A&E waiting time was 11 hours because the Banbury hospital was dealing with patients who could not be seen at the JR – at the quietest time of the year. And five gynaecology cases were in trauma beds – as managers prepare to close 28 Horton beds in F- and Oak wards.
 “They have a vitriolic hatred for the Horton which they have wanted closed since the Arthur Davidson Inquiry* and have adopted a policy of slowly destroying each department, bit by bit,” the sources agreed. “Emergency general surgery has been devastated and now it’s maternity. Everything else comes next. The dominoes will fall. Once maternity goes there will be no on call anaesthetist. Trauma will be crippled and ended. Paediatrics is under pressure.”
 The sources said Oxford managers have refused Horton surgeons’ offers to take huge pressure off the John Radcliffe, Oxford at Banbury’s high performing trauma unit. The JR is way below government targets because of patient numbers. “We could run the JR list more cheaply and more efficiently with our low bed occupancy. We estimate we would save the trust £750,000 - £1m a year but they refuse.” “National targets call for surgery for hip fractures to be operated on within 36 hours. We are fourth best in the country, achieving this in the high 90s per cent - with most fractures done within 24 hours and many in less than 10 hours. 
“The JR misses the targets consistently on more than half. In July the JR met this target only 19 per cent of cases. The cost to the Horton of not being ‘in tariff’ was £30,000 in 2015 while the JR lost more than £330,000.” The Horton regularly takes on cases for Oxford, such as broken wrists, hips and knees. “We were promised we would go to eight trauma surgeons in Banbury and then they reneged. There are five now. Weekend physiotherapy has been withdrawn,” the sources said. “We could do an extra 500 trauma cases a year in Banbury saving the OUH up to £1m a year. They know it makes economic sense but they will not listen. It’s not about money, it’s about destroying the site.” 
It is understood the lead trauma surgeon in Oxford is in favour of the plan to share workload but OUH clinical directors are ‘not interested’. “The problem is the true catchment population Oxford is barely bigger than Banbury’s. It is too small – smaller than comparable teaching hospitals – smaller than Northampton or Reading,” said the source. “Without the university it would be nothing. With its university it is a world class teaching hospital. 
“There is not a shred of evidence for the need for a children’s hospital in Oxford. Oxford’s was simply too small a paediatric unit to need so much infrastructure. So it needed Banbury’s patients to make Oxford viable. It needs to destroy Banbury to get the Horton’s patients. “If Oxford had merged with Stoke Mandeville instead of the Horton (it is only a mile further away) they’d have done the same there. They’ve got their eyes on their spinal injury rehabilitation unit and want to move that to Oxford. They don’t care how overloaded the JR is.
 “If they moved 20 per cent of patients at Oxford to Banbury making 60 per cent in Oxford and 40 per cent in Banbury, both sites would be better. But they want 100 per cent - they want to keep the big departments,” said the sources. “If the trust copied the model trauma service across the two sites it would be perfectly feasible to run an acute surgical service and the maternity in Banbury. “The less complicated trauma work and routine Caesareans could be done in Banbury and the complex work in Oxford.” Fracture clinics in the Horton regularly see over 20-30+ new referrals every day. The source said the JR ‘can’t possibly cope’ with these extra numbers but wish to downgrade the Horton service anyway.

 “Patients here have a shorter stay than the JR and get operated on more quickly. But they are moving trauma to Oak Ward with only 18 of our 28 beds. Instead of praising us for our excellent service and sending us more patients, they are taking away our beds.” The sources described the situation as ‘managerial incompetence’ and said the management plan would ‘fail an MBA’. 
“The Horton is on the verge of closure and we will be lucky to be open at the end of the year.”
 “Refusing to look at a plan that would save money and improve services on both sites indicates this is not to do with money it is entirely to do with crippling services. They want to flog the Horton site,” said one if the sources. They said 2,000 children are being operated on a year in Oxford while 10,000 paediatric and 100,000 adult outpatients have to travel there. “They just don’t care. People will die. People have already died. Overloading Oxford does not help anyone. Perhaps Oxford patients will eventually see this is harming them as much as it is harming Banbury.”  *(Arthur Davidson Inquiry, 1996 which recommended a merger between the Horton and JR, on condition acute services remained in Banbury) 
*The downgrading ambitions for the Horton are part of the government’s Sustainability and Transformation Plan – a giant NHS reorganisation which is resulting in many district general hospitals all over England fighting to keep services local in the face of plans to centralist core specialist services to giant regional hospitals, introducing top up payments and encouraging medical insurance. Critics say the ‘no doctors’ tactic is being used in numerous threatened hospitals. 

Read more at:

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Save Horton Hospital - petition

Horton Hospital near Banbury is threatened with extensive cuts in the near future, leading to the closure of its Accident and Emergency unit, the specialist Maternity Unit, the Special Care Baby Unit, its Children's Ward and its Intensive Care facilities. For all of these needs, residents of Banbury would have to drive 40 minutes to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. That is just not good enough.
The hospital board and Head of Service claim that they have had difficulty recruiting enough staff to run the Maternity and other units. However, this claim is disputed by those campaigning to stop the closures. They say there has been a deliberate running-down of the staffing with vacancies not being re-advertised and this is all a pretext for ultimately closing the hospital. 

All over the country A and E units are being shut and this is a situation of grave danger.

The link to the petition is here:-
Save Banbury Horton General Hospital From Extensive and Dangerous Cuts
Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUHFT) is consulting on the way services are provided at the Horton General Hospital in Banbury 
Their plans could take away A&E, consultant-led maternity, Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU), 24 hour / 7 day a week children's ward and intensive care.

protests at parliament and People's Park

Welcome to Keep the Horton General

aka SAVE OUR HORTON - campaigning against threats at Banbury’s Horton General Hospital


Consultant-led Maternity, SCBU, 24/7 Children's Ward, A&E, orthopaedics and Critical Care Unit under threat

See below for the latest news, or follow these links to find out what's going on and what you can do to help.
Why not join the Save Our Horton facebook group and get the latest news and discussion straight away?



At a packed St Mary's Church last night (25 August), Banbury told Oxford University Hospital Trust bosses loud and clear that they will not tolerate the downgrading of maternity services at the Horton General Hospital.
After two last minute changes in format, Keep the Horton General campaigners were given a prominent position on stage and right of reply to the trust's answers. The audience cheered as KTHG chair Keith Strangwood interrupted Dr Bruno Holthof's opening speech to present him with a copy of nearly 15,000 petition signatures, collected over the last few weeks in protest at the imminent removal of consultant-led maternity, and the potential downgrading of many other departments at the Horton General Hospital.
After the opening speeches by the trust, independent chair Rev. Philip Cochrane asked many questions on behalf of people who had emailed himself and Victoria Prentis MP prior to the meeting. Members of KTHG, midwives and people from Banbury, including many parents and expectant mothers, also took to the microphone to ask questions and challenge the answers.
Trust managers, including the chief executive Dr Bruno Holthof, looked flustered and irritated as the audience erupted over their disputed claims regarding their efforts to recruit, the time taken to get to the JR, the availability of ambulances and their downplaying of risk to delivering mothers and babies. At one point, Dr Holthof embarrassed himself by not knowing the name of Catherine Greenwood, a clinician who was sharing the stage with him, and with whom he was supposedly working to resolve the problems at the Horton.
Incredulous at the trust's claims that the cuts are all about patient safety, supporters held up signs reading "Dead in an Ambulance" and "The JR is TOO FAR" whenever any of the Oxford University Hospitals Trust panel made this claim. The placards referred to the inevitable consequences for some women and babies if obstetric support is taken away, accessible only by a blue light ambulance journey of at least 45 minutes.
Rev. Philip Cochrane did an admirable job maintaining control in difficult circumstances as the audience grew increasingly angry with the trust's inadequate, evasive and misleading answers.
The trust's claims that "premium offers" had been made and turned down were challenged with evidence that salaries of just £38k and one-year contracts had been offered to prospective obstetricians. The trust was also challenged over their continuing failure, over several weeks, to interview up to 17 doctors with UK maternity experience, who are known to be waiting "with their bags packed" to come to work at the Horton General Hospital. Andrew McHugh, retired Horsefair GP Surgery Practice Manager, walked off stage and left the meeting in protest at the trust's insistence that sufficient efforts had been made to recruit the specialist doctors needed to keep the maternity unit fully open. He received a standing ovation as he stormed out of the building.
The Q&A event ended with the loudest applause of the evening when a brave Horton General Hosptial midwife took to the stage to read out a statement on behalf of her fellow midwives.
"I am currently a midwife at the unit and we all would like to thank KTHG for affording us these few moments to speak," she said. "Until now our presence and our voices have remained quiet... but tonight I now call upon my sisters here in this hall to stand up with me. Stand tall, stand proud, and stand united in our one voice, our one message.
"We are all at our very core only focused on one thing.... the safe provision of quality care to the women and families in our charge. We plead now personally to you, Dr Bruno Holthof, to reject your Trust's Contingency Plans, to insist your Obstetric Consultants across both hospitals pull together temporarily with agency doctors until the proposed Ugandan Doctors are in post.
We demand we are no longer silenced, that our contribution and place within OUHFT is acknowledged and respected and that despite the lack of trust in your Trust, Dr Holthof, you prove to us, your staff, that you are patient focused, women centred and recognise fully the important crucial role the whole of the Horton General Hospital plays in this growing community."
The midwives received a standing ovation from the audience, politicians and campaigners, with only the trust managers remaining seated.
Later, supporters took to social media to express their disgust at the trust's answers and their fears that, despite the trust's assurances that a decision has not yet been made, it is a "done deal". Videos, photos and public comments are available on our Save Our Horton facebook page.
Our thanks to Robert Shepley of for allowing us to use his article as a starting point for this report.