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Following the so-called ’consultation’ meeting at St Mary’s church, Banbury, on Thursday 26th January, I wrote a draft of the following for the ‘Save Our Horton’ Facebook Group, which now numbers over 19,000 members. I believe your readers in the wider ‘Banburyshire’ community may like to know what happened at the meeting.
I returned from the Horton meeting at St Mary’s feeling totally shell-shocked. I’ve always been told that I have a bit of a cynical streak, but tonight the only thing I’m actually happy about is that I spent the evening in a packed church with around 500 other, similarly minded ‘cynics’, who dare-to-care deeply, passionately, about their local General Hospital and were über cynical about the misguided and frankly dangerous plans being proposed for the Acute Services at the Horton Hospital.
The questions from the floor were, for the most part, well presented, incisive, cutting and refreshingly direct. The corresponding answers from the Trust were without fail, contrived, evasive, unbelievable, disingenuous and in some cases, jaw-droppingly crass.
The pre-admin organisation didn’t give me much hope of competence as emails requesting a place were ignored for many, including myself. Calls to book a place were met with answer phone messages and everyone on the Trust side appeared to be ‘Out-of-Office’ until the end of January. No agenda appeared until 7 hours before the meeting and full details of the Trust attendees and the all important ’Chair’, only appeared six hours before the meeting after much chasing by myself. If these tactics were an attempt to try to keep people away, they failed, and how they failed! They also demonstrated the utter unprofessionalism and contempt being demonstrated by the Trust during this exercise.
The Chair, Gavin Grey was, according to a number of online sources, an ex BBC strike-breaker, one of those to whom the ’Beeb’ turns when their Newsreaders are on strike. In short, it didn’t bode well for his integrity. The Chair facilitated the Trust getting their message over and successfully stifled the assembled masses from challenging the wildly inaccurate, spurious and frequent down-right lies which came tumbling forth from the stage. Here, the old adage of ‘The one who controls the microphone, controls the meeting’ applies rather well.
The chairing of the meeting was a highly partisan affair. The questions were poorly handled in a very arbitrary way, ‘Please keep them short’ seemed to be his mantra and ‘We’re running out of time’. Where obvious lies were told, no opportunity to challenge them, then and there, was permitted. It was like a Donald Trump news conference where they tried to silence responses to outrageous lies. Absolutely shameful. I’d be interested to learn how much the Trust paid Mr Grey (obviously from the public purse) for his dubious services that evening?
The Trust tried to say that the proposed changes were purely for clinical reasons. They failed to provide any compelling arguments to support their case. I utterly refute and reject their transparent lies. Budget cuts as part of the Government STPs (Sustainability Transformation Plans) are forcing a massive budget cut across the entire NHS, with this Trust being directed by NHS England to cut a reported £200 million from their budget by 2020. This is what is driving the stripping of all manner of acute services from the Horton Hospital, NOT clinical need or efficiency.
Local MP Victoria Prentis as well as her predecessor Tony Baldry were in the audience, both taking the opportunity to speak out. Victoria Prentis went on record saying, that if it’s a matter of money to keep the Horton Acute Services, then she would lobby the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt for more funding. The fact is Ms Prentis, Government STPs are what is causing this reduction and the closure of perfectly good, efficient and capable hospitals all over the country, all in the name of centralising and efficiency.
It is widely accepted that the standard technique for privatisation is to defund, make sure things don’t work properly, try to blame someone else (immigrants are usually a safe target), make people angry and then hand the services over to private healthcare providers, to make things better. In short, the abolition of the NHS via the backdoor. We will not lie down and meekly accept this fate.
For me, one of the truly damning statements from the floor during the evening was from Stratford District Councillor Chris Kettle who took the Trust to task on the fact that they, the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group had singularly failed to respond to various invitations from the Warwickshire Clinical Commissioning Group (their sister body) to attend meetings to discuss implications of the proposed changes to neighbouring CCGs. This provided a glimpse into the World of the shockingly unprofessional Oxfordshire CCG. The mealy-mouthed response from Mr Brennan was that members of the team had spoken to Warwickshire CCG, finally this week. I hope these medical professionals on stage are better at their clinical roles, because they are utterly hopeless at the ones they presently occupy. On present form, I’d frankly doubt their ability to cut my toe nails safely.
And then, as if to seal the evening and remind us of their incompetence, the Trust managed to not bring along sufficient copies of the Consultation document about which they had been evangelising all evening. Unbelievable! Alas, I couldn’t even start reading the x hundred pages of glossy ‘turgidity’.
The great Winston Churchill once wrote of the then Soviet Union, ‘It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma’. Well tonight we had ‘Incompetence, heaped upon ineptitude, piled upon utter farce’.
Finally, I would implore all your readers to try to attend one of these consultation meetings which are taking place around the region in the coming weeks, but also to write to your local MP clearly stating that the cutting of Acute Services at Banbury Horton Hospital is not acceptable and won’t be tolerated.
Banbury – Victoria Prentis MP email
South Northants – Andrea Leadsom MP email
Dare to care and let’s Save Our Horton.
Aston le Walls.
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