OVERWHELMING support for retaining services at the Horton General Hospital was received in a consultation on sweeping changes to the county’s NHS.

More than 10,000 people took part in phase one of Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group's (CCG) ‘Big Health and Care Consultation’, which seeks to reshape the way health services are delivered in Oxfordshire in response to a growing, ageing population and limited finances.

The CCG has now collated responses and on Tuesday held an extraordinary board meeting to discuss public feedback.

A summary of the responses seen by the board stated: "In North Oxfordshire there is strong support for maintaining the Horton General Hospital as a district general hospital with full provision of urgent and emergency care.

"Although there is support for planned care there is a strong feeling that this should not be at the expense of other services."

Some 85 per cent of all survey respondents were in favour of new diagnostic and pre-surgery assessment units being built at the Banbury hospital.

At the same time 84 per cent agreed there should be more chemotherapy, renal dialysis and day case surgery at the Horton.

Across the county almost four fifths of people agreed that acute stroke care should be centralised in Oxford, falling to 60 per cent in Banbury.

But the report noted: "There are almost universal concerns and a lack of support for the proposal to close the obstetric unit at the Horton General Hospital and replace it with a midwife led unit, because of travel times and safety concerns."

Maternity services at the Horton were downgraded to midwife-led status last October due to a lack of doctors.

The CCG said to address concerns raised during the consultation it would 'review the options' for obstetric services before a decision-making meeting in August.

It also recognised there had been 'considerable criticism' of the consultation process due to the fact it had been split into two phases, with phase two – relating to emergency care, community hospitals and children's services – likely to get under way in the autumn.

Banbury MP Victoria Prentis said: "We know that the board will be making decisions in August, but at the moment we have no idea what the final proposals will look like.

"I continue to be extremely concerned about the split nature of the consultation.

"How we move forward remains unclear, but I will be doing all I can to get the answers we need and to retain acute services at the Horton General Hospital."