A SCATHING attack was launched on 'useless' plans to reshape the health service in Oxfordshire at a meeting last week.

Phase one of Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group's 'transformation' plans for the county include a shake-up of services at the Horton General Hospital.

Results from a 12-week public consultation were released this month but the process, which has been split into two consultations, was branded 'dishonest' by campaigners.

The first set of proposals included provisions to boost outpatient and diagnostic capacity at the Horton in Banbury, but also the centralisation of acute stroke and critical care and a permanent downgrade of the hospital's maternity unit to midwife-led status following a 'temporary' move last October.

Some 200 acute beds across Oxfordshire could also be closed and A&E services, long believed to be under threat at the Horton, are being consulted on next.

Keith Strangwood, chairman of the Keep the Horton General campaign, said of the consultation results: "It was clear a huge percentage wanted the obstetrics unit in Banbury to stay. It is clear the plan is to put the pain in the north. It is still clear people are against the proposals.

"Let's hope the CCG care enough about north Oxfordshire people to listen to these survey results."

At a meeting of Oxfordshire's health overview and scrutiny committee (HOSC) last week concerns were raised about the long-term viability of the plans.

George Smith, the new chairman of Healthwatch Oxfordshire, said: "Many documents which are predicting a 27 per cent growth in the population by 2031, with 185,000 more people coming to the county. If we were expecting guests we would make up the beds, put fresh towels out, stock up the larder and maybe do a bit of baking.

"Instead we are selling off the beds, taking the towels to the charity shops and emptying the larder. In the short term we maybe shutting facilities, to only reopen them in the longer term and I fear we will be spending two lots of money to only get back to where we started. We need to have a clear vision."

Dissatisfied HOSC members called for an additional public meeting ahead of the CCG's decision on what plans to implement in August.

Chief executive of the CCG David Smith said it would be ‘happy’ to comply adding: "We have not made a decision on the plans as it will be made on August 10.

"We have said we will look again at some of the issues raised from the consultation and we will look at issues you have raised."