HEALTH bosses tried to reassure more than 200 people about the future of services at Banbury’s Horton General Hospital after emergency abdominal surgery was suspended last year.

Members of the audience, who want to protect local services, quizzed a panel at a meeting at Rye Hill Golf Club in Milcombe, near Banbury, on Wednesday.

The meeting was hosted by Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust and the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) and came after emergency abdominal surgery was suspended in January last year, following concerns raised by GPs over gall bladder surgery and the departure of three consultants.

Residents at the meeting were told there was no threat to the hospital’s accident and emergency department.

Prof Edward Baker, medical director at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “There is no agenda to decrease services – we want to expand the services. But they have to be appropriate services we can provide safely and locally.”

Ian Wilson, interim chief executive of the OCCG, said: “I met the Keep the Horton General campaign group on Monday. We worked out there were two things giving concerns. Firstly the change to abdominal surgery. The second... was this the thin end of the wedge?”

Dr Paul Park, a clinical director for the OCCG and GP at Banbury Health Centre, said: “This is not the thin edge of the wedge. We have a vision for Horton as a district hospital.”

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