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Vicar demands that PCT honour the commitments they have made to us.

At a meeting of the Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee  on November 15th 2007 at County Hall Canon Stephen Weston (Chairman of the Chipping Norton Healthcare Users Group) led a delegation of local activists to demand that the PCT should honour commitments they have made in the recent past about the nurses at Chipping Norton Hospital working on the 14 intermediate care beds being retained within the NHS. This is the clearly preferred option expressed by current nursing staff,  local GPs, the public, AND THE PCT itself
The Vicar said...

"We are not just a few isolated dissidents.  I am here speaking for a group that is a genuinely representative body made up of a range of people from throughout our community, including:- Town and District Councillors of various political persuasions, a retired GP, members from the League of Friends and the Patients Involvement Forum.  Furthermore - we have been given unanimous support from the Town Council for every aspect of our campaign  including most recently on the specific issue of retaining our nurses in the NHS and rejecting transferring them  to the Order of St John.  If that wasnt enough, over 10 000 petition signatories (from the local community that will be served by new facility) back our stance on this issue.

I am here to request this committees support in seeing that the PCT honour the commitments made to the people in our community following public consultation in 2004.

The then chief executive Nigel Webb wrote to this committee and guaranteed that the staff will remain within the NHS for a period of three years from the new building being commissioned  Secondly, Mr Webb went on to say that at the end of the three years  there will be a review in the light of circumstances pertaining at the time". This review would be based on what had happened in the first three years.  Mr Webb stated that if the PCT wished to take nursing staff out of the NHS the change would require a full public consultation.

The PCT Board have now approved something quite different which is not in line with this previous commitment from the PCT. They now propose a predetermined transfer of nursing staff to the Orders of St John after 3 years.
This in our view would amount to downgrading the service we receive and it is imperative that this model is not allowed to be implemented by the back door in Chipping Norton as it will inevitably become the assumed pattern for other primary healthcare projects in the rest of the county.

I am urging this committee to use their powers to insist that the PCT honour the commitments made to us in 2005 This means keeping our nurses within the NHS for three years from the date the new building is commissioned and then undertaking an unprejudiced review. Any proposal to transfer nurses will require a further consultation".

A discussion followed which those present described as "confusing" and "inconclusive". The Chairman of the Committee has promised to write to the Vicar with their conclusions.

Its difficult to see where the problem is. If there is a "significant change" to healthcare provision then the O&S Committee must insist on proper consultation taking place. All the stakeholders must be considered - staff as well as patients. It is difficult to see how being told that you are being transferred from the employment of a Huge Public Agency on to the books of a small Private company is not a "significant change". The Staff have every right to be fully consulted. The PCT should stick to its previous agreements.

Meanwhile the Hospital planning application has still not been scheduled for a Planning Committee hearing. This is looking like January at the earliest now. Hilary Biles told us at the last Town Council meeting that the application had arrived in Witney so there is obviously some hold up. Word is that the Highways people are being difficult over access arrangements. We await developments anxiously. People keep insisting that everything is "on track" but nobody believes it any more!



We had an exhibition earlier in the year of plans for the new hospital and were told they would be going forward for Planning permission urgently. Then a problem emerged about access through Crowell Park so the plans were re-done showing access to both the Hospital and the Care Home from London Road. These plans were originally due to go forward to the Planning Committee at their September meeting. Construction of the hospital was scheduled to begin in March 2008. Then we were told that submission of plans was delayed until October - then November. Still problems over access. But hey no problem. Construction would still start in March. Now we are told that the plans won't reach the November Meeting either - "owing to problems over the new access in London Road". Looks like January now! Which means that the final plan plus its six volumes of detailed appendices and appraisals will probably reach the town in December for comments and we will be told that the slightest problem or criticism could mean further delay and the construction date being put back. We are desperately hoping that this latest delay has nothing to do with the recently announced cut backs by the Radcliffe Trust in their maternity Services (see below). As far as we can tell the delay is entirely due to the County Council Property and Highways departments not doing their homework early enough on problems surrounding the development like covenants on their own land, neighbouring properties' rights and traffic issues. If that is the case - come on OCC - please lets have a bit of the urgency and priority this project deserves.



The Fight Goes On



Monday the 4th February was a red letter day for the town. Its been a long time coming but this afternoon at least the Planning side of the Chippy hospital saga was brought to a successful conclusion. Nothing now to stop the building work beginning. We lost one horse chestnut tree but got three to replace it. The Town Council and the Hospital Action Group had asked for an improved public transport service - ideally a shuttle bus. We were told that the existing No 20 bus service was good enough as a transport service to the site from the town so the County can expect some more protest ahead about that. We need a dedicated bus service. The County seemed to be pulling back on their previous promises to build  a number of pedestrian crossings and despite at least three separate attempts by different councillors to clarify things it remained unclear exactly what we would be getting from a Section 106 agreement. We MUST have zebra crossings on Albion St, London Rd and Banbury Rd. So that is another battle to be fought. We were at least promised that before the hospital opens the 30mph limit on the A44 will be extended, one pelican crossing directly outside the hospital will be constructed and four new bus stops will be installed. But thats not good enough! Given the fortune that the County will  be making from selling their land at Castleview, the Ambulance Station and London Road it seems a bit cheese-paring of them to refuse to guarantee installing the infrastructure that the new hospital needs. But with goodwill (and some more pressure from County Councillor Biles) these things can be sorted. At least the way ahead does now seem clear! Lets all give ourselves a big group hug!!


New Care Home and Hospital Gets Underway

Work has begun on a new care campus development in Chipping Norton.  On Friday 24th April representatives from The Orders of St John Care Trust (OSJCT), Oxfordshire County Council (OCC), Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust (PCT), West Oxfordshire District Council and the Hospital Users Group (HUG) watched a mechanical digger breaking ground to symbolise the beginning of the first phase of construction.  

A 50 bed registered care home will be developed to replace the existing Castle View residential home and an NHS Primary Care Facility will replace the Memorial Hospital.  The development is due to be completed in the autumn of 2010.  A formal Foundation Stone laying ceremony is planned later this autumn. The care home will provide both high dependency nursing and intermediate care services.  The NHS Primary Care Facility will provide consulting rooms, x-ray facilities and outreach offices, as well as a state of the art Maternity Unit that will be operated by the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust.

Nigel Reed, Chief Executive of OSJCT, said: We are delighted that we are now in a position to commence work on this important new facility.  This is the culmination of a great deal of hard work undertaken by all involved parties, who are committed to seeing a modern, fit for purpose care campus on this site.

Cllr Hilary Biles, County & West Oxfordshire District Councillor for Chipping Norton, said:  This has been a long drawn out process, however, I am delighted plans for the Care Home and Hospital have at last come to fruition.  This is excellent news for the residents of Chipping Norton and the surrounding villages who also use the services of the Hospital.  Rural areas need access to local services and these facilities will serve residents well in the future.

Andrea Young, Chief Executive of Oxfordshire PCT, said: Todays ceremony is the result of a great deal of hard work with partners and the community and we are delighted that work on the reprovision of services at Chipping Norton has progressed to this significant step.  The new facilities will provide high quality 21st century care for the people of Chipping Norton and will enable them to receive many of the services they need without having to travel further afield to see a specialist. These facilities will be a tremendous asset to the local community.




Its really started. Really Really. We have the site manager's promise that work now goes on until the place is finished! Dave Hawtin (above right) of the Hospital Action Group was up at London Road today watching the diggers get stuck into the stony soil. He swapped stories with a team of guys from Steve Hill Construction who are doing the groundworks. This phase goes on until June when work on the building proper starts. Dave told them how this field used to be the home of Chipping Norton Town Football Club before they moved to Walterbushe Rd. And over there (said Dave pointing into the far distance towards the Banbury Road) was the town baseball ground. This really sparked the interest of one of the builders who lives in Great Rollright. His dad apparently played for the Chippy baseball team and he appears in a team photo in the museum. As we were talking more equipment arrived - including a huge dumper truck. The first job is to create a site entrance which will be opposite Trinity Road and squeezed in between two Horse Chestnut trees. But the next real excitement is this Friday when there will be a "Breaking Ground" ceremony performed by (you've guessed it) Dave Cameron. (Mind you this is only what the builders think. Hilary Biles told us later at the Town Council meeting that there is no truth in the story. On Friday apparently there will just be a low-key occasion involving the PCT, OSJ and the OCC in a marquee) Anyway just in case Dave  comes after all, we promised to keep quiet about the fact that the ground was really broken on Monday 20th April and only Dave Hawtin and I were there to quietly witness it. We were both delighted that five years campaigning seemed to have at last paid off.