CAMPAIGNERS have sent a final plea to a health body before it makes a decision over the fate of the Horton General Hospital.

Members of Keep the Horton General Campaign Group (KHCG) hope to persuade health chiefs at Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to re-think the downgrade of maternity services at the Banbury hospital before its decision on August 10.

Since October, the Horton has run a midwifery-led unit due to a lack of doctors, with ‘high-risk’ pregnant women and those who face complications in birth taken to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

Chairman of KHCG Keith Strangwood wrote: “We request the downgrade plan be abandoned and that the Horton be maintained as a fully functioning district general hospital.

“In terms of consultant-led obstetrics we ask the CCG to seriously question the willingness of the OUH to find a solution to the shortage of obstetricians.

“Trainee obstetricians can apparently spend 20 per cent of their working time away from their designated training hospital and this would allow for each of the trainees currently working at the John Radcliffe Hospital to work two sessions per week at the Horton.”

Banbury MP Victoria Prentis echoed these views and said the fate of the hospital had made the last year 'extremely difficult' for everyone in north Oxfordshire.

She said: “My concerns about both the process and content of the proposals remain.

"More than 10,000 people responded to the consultation. Their views must be taken into account before any final decisions are made.

“Last week I wrote to each member of the CCG board to make this clear, and specifically urged them to pause any decision on the future of the Horton’s maternity service until all recruitment ideas have been exhausted.”

Mrs Prentis added that patient safety was of paramount importance and should be at the forefront of everyone’s minds.

She said: “We must also ensure that decisions made in this first phase do not have an adverse impact on the future provision of acute services at the Horton General Hospital.

"We cannot ignore the potential domino effect.

“The people of North Oxfordshire and the surrounding areas must have access to care that is safe, kind and close to home.”

The CCG will also make a decision on closing 200 acute hospital beds and centralising stroke and critical care at the August 10 meeting.