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Royal Courts Of Justice

Court of Appeal to hear case against Horton General Hospital

An appeal against the High Court's decision to dismiss the legal challenge to bed closures at Horton General Hospital will be heard at the Court of Appeal on Thursday 14 March 2019.

Posted on 13 March 2019

The Keep the Horton General (KTHG) campaign group was an interested party in a High Court legal challenge by a number of district councils to ‘The Big Consultation’, a consultation carried out by Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) on proposed changes to services at Horton General Hospital in Banbury. On 7 December 2017, the High Court ruled that the consultation carried out by the Oxfordshire CCG was not unlawful.
KTHG campaign group is appealing the High Court’s decision on the same grounds as heard in the High Court. The first ground is on the hospital’s failure to address the interdependency between permanent bed closures and community provision. The second ground is the hospital not properly consulting on new NHS England policy relating to bed closures. The third ground is in relation to the lawful ruling of Oxfordshire CCG’s failure to set out both pros and cons of the bed closures.  The final ground is the late admission of new evidence on the final day of the High Court hearing, despite it being requested months earlier. 
The consultation was launched on 16 January 2017 and sought views on proposed changes to services. The consultation was split into two phases with Phase 1 looking at changes to acute stroke services and home care in Oxfordshire and critical care, planned care and maternity services at the Horton General Hospital. Phase 2 related to A&E departments in Oxfordshire, children’s services and community hospitals, and was due to be scheduled for late 2017 before being abandoned by Oxfordshire CCG.
Keith Strangwood, chairperson of the KTHG campaign group said:  “For 25 years this campaign group has been fighting to retain the full range of district general hospital services for the rapidly growing Banbury catchment. 

"This flawed consultation was the first step in huge regional changes to the NHS and it started by a downgrade of essential services at the Banbury hospital. Called the Oxfordshire Transformation Plan it presented permanent loss of full maternity, closure of 45 acute medical beds, loss of gynaecology and special care baby unit and downgrade of intensive care as positive steps.

"Nowhere in the consultation were the negative aspects mentioned. The CCG failed to have anything ‘in situ’ in the community to take the place of the beds. The community's views were obtained without full transparency.

"We feel the principle of clear and adequate consultation must be preserved."
Rowan Smith, solicitor at Leigh Day who is representing the campaign group, said: “The KTHG group have campaigned tirelessly to ensure that the community is given a proper say in the changes to provisions at Horton General. At a time when hospital beds are in short supply and waiting lists are growing, the group believe it was inconceivable that the CCG omitted to give the local community a balanced picture as to the need to keep beds open. 

“The group argue that the consultation on bed closures by Oxfordshire CCG was unlawful and will present their evidence to the Court of Appeal on Thursday.

“It is only right that the campaign group has sought further scrutiny of the significant changes to healthcare provision in Banbury, and we trust that the Court of Appeal will agree with our client that the CCG’s decision in relation to bed closures ought to be revisited immediately for the benefit of all patients and users of the Horton General and surrounding areas.”