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More goings-on over the Hospital.

Let me just remind you all of the extraordinarily complicated financial scheme that was set up to develop the new Care Home and Community Health Facility (please note everyone that this is the new name for the Hospital!). The site is owned freehold by the County Council. A lease has been granted to the Oxfordshire Care Partnership (who run all the county's care homes) one of whose constituent partners the BPHA (Bedfordshire Pilgrims Housing Association) raises all the capital and develops the site. OCP will then rent the Hospital (oops sorry Community Health Facility) to the Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust.  OCP will run the Care Home and get their money back on the whole deal in the bed rates which they charge to the County Council.  This results in a "blizzard" of sub-leases and sub-subunderleases which  are completely impenetrable to the layman. All clear so far

Well at this late stage the Bedfordshire Pilgrims Housing Association who are raising all the money are asking, what happens if the PCT pull out of this scheme after their hospital is built and leave us with all the development costs We wouldn't do that says the PCT. We promise we will honour the deal. "But - says a report published this week by the OCC - the Bedfordshire Pilgrims Housing Association (BPHA) and its funders are nervous about relying on this assurance from the PCT and would not wish to have to enforce it by taking legal action for breach of covenant/contract (considering this to be at odds with its charitable status and objects)".
(report  http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/content/public/Resources/hlpdownloads/CA/CA-12.doc)

And so next Tuesday the County Council Cabinet are being asked to provide a financial guarantee to BPHA (the developers of the hospital and Care Home) that if the Primary Care Trust back out of the whole scheme then the County will divi up the money to compensate the developer's costs and the County will then reclaim the money from the PCT. There's no real risk in this the Cabinet are advised, because ownership of the hospital building would revert to the County Council as freeholder "allowing alternative use" (like a library perhaps).

Which leaves us all wondering why the Pilgrim Housing Association seem worried the PCT may pull out. Why are they so reluctant to trust the PCT to pay up - if they do pull out. What do they know that we don't Is this what has been holding things up Did the County Council have to provide a guarantee to unblock a negotiating log jam Will the County approve these extraordinarily unusual arrangements at their meeting next Tuesday

It was instructive to re-visit the last report to the Cabinet in March 2007 reporting progress with the scheme. Its pretty clear that these reports have been completely worthless. In 2007 a completion date of April 2009 was being quoted. Moreover the report said...."The Building Completed date of April 2009 refers to the whole project.  The care home will be built as the first phase and should be completed and ready for occupation by October 2008". So that's at least two years late already and counting....


Ambulance Trust is failing dismally

Of the 392 health trusts assessed in the Care Quality Commissions annual health check for 2008/09 South Central Ambulance Service NHS Trust ended up in the bottom five per cent. Its rating dropped from good to weak

In the past year, paramedics got to 72.6 per cent of urgent calls within eight minutes, compared to a Government target of 75 per cent.

The figure was more than a 10 percentage point drop on the last figures for Oxfordshire Ambulance Trust which preceded SCAS in 2005/06, when 84 per cent of the most series category A calls were reached. It also failed in terms of management of heart attack and stroke patients. A spokesman for the trust said since April 1, 74.8 per cent of category A callers in Oxfordshire were reached in eight minutes, an increase on the previous year.

SCAS chief executive Will Hancock said: The results have confirmed that we still have work to do to improve services for local people in some areas.

We have a robust action plan in place and delivering this will be our primary focus over the coming months, to ensure that our patients receive the high standards of service they expect and deserve.

But Dr Peter Skolar, a county councillor and chairman of the joint health overview and scrutiny committee, said the trust was failing dismally. We knew when it went out of Oxfordshire it would get too big and out of control. I would classify it as poor.


Concern Chipping Norton first aid unit could close

Chipping Norton's first aid unit may have to close because of concerns that it could cost more than 500 per patient to keep it running. Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust (PCT) said it would cost around 180,000 a year when a new community hospital opens before Christmas. The PCT said the existing facility was used by one patient per day on average.

But campaigners say people have stopped going because many have been turned away and sent to other hospitals.Clive Hill, of the league of friends group for Chipping Norton Community Hospital, said local people would be "outraged" to hear the news. Mr Hill said campaigners wanted to see a minor injuries unit return to the town, possibly run by advanced nurse practitioners and paramedics.

He said: "We were suspicious about this all along. The numbers are only down because people keep being turned away and told not to go there. A number got sent to Banbury or Witney because they couldn't release staff from the ward. When a survey was done in the town, the minor injuries unit was the most valued part of the hospital, even above the maternity unit, so people will be outraged if this closure happens."

The PCT said it was looking at other ways to provide first aid cover. One plan is for doctors to treat minor injuries at the town's two GP surgeries, but they are not open during evenings and weekends.

PCT spokesman Ally Green said: "We have a difficulty in how we are going to provide it, at the same time as understanding it is not terribly well used.For the last three years (the) average number of people using it was about 30. The highest number in any month was 56 and the lowest was 13.

'Real concern' The numbers have been falling over the last three years."

The current service is almost cost-free, because nurses come off the care wards to treat patients so the unit does not need its own staff. But that arrangement will not be possible at the new facility, which will have a day treatment unit in one building and care beds in another area, run by the Order of St John. Nurses on the wards will not be managed by the National Health Service.Ms Green said: "They would be away from the patients they are meant to care for. These nurses are experienced at looking after older people, providing sub-acute care, and providing first aid isn't their primary skill. The way it is provided now is not ideal.At the moment we haven't got a model for providing those services or a way to help people have access somewhere else. It is a rural area and this is a real concern."


A statement from Chunky Townley
Chairman of the Hospital Action Group

The Hospital Action Group has always believed that if the highest care standards are to be maintained in the town hospital it is essential that the hospital facilities (including Intermediate Care Beds) should be staffed by NHS nurses. We believe that this is the only way of ensuring that the highest quality staff are employed, that continuous training in the latest techniques is maintained and that a fulfilling career structure is guaranteed (including long term pay and pensions) so that motivation of nurses will remain high. This seems to us to be particularly important where the private partner in this enterprise (Orders of St John) has little experience of running hospital services.

The Chipping Norton and District Hospital Action Group has grave concerns that the nurses employed to staff the 14 Intermediate Care beds in the new hospital may not now be employed by the NHS.  This concern follows a PCT briefing given to the nurses during November in which they were told they would have to TUPE transfer and be employed by the Orders of St John.

There was a public consultation which started in 2004 following which the Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, in 2007, stipulated that Intermediate Care Bed Nurses must be employed by the NHS for a period of at least three years after the new hospital opens following which there would be an open review. The Hospital Action Group and WODC are to be involved in setting the terms of the end of three year review.

In addition the Hospital Action Group was given repeated assurances that nurses staffing the Intermediate Care Beds would not be asked to work in the Care Home and Care Home nurses would not be employed on the Intermediate Care Beds.

The people in this community made it very clear, during the consultation, that they wished to see NHS staff retained on the hospital beds and a clear distinction between those Intermediate Care Beds and the Nursing Home maintained.

The Hospital Action Group will campaign strongly to see that the 2007 commitment is honoured and that the division between Intermediate Care Bed staff and Care Home staff is clear and not compromised in any way.

The Hospital Action Group is already in contact with David Cameron and the PCT in an effort to get the 2007 agreement reconfirmed.

Unless the PCT is able to give a written undertaking that this will be the case the Hospital Action Group will be organising a campaign which will include a public meeting so that people in the community can express their views.

Hospital Action Group members feel that for the PCT to attempt these changes at this late stage in the project makes a mockery of the whole consultation process.

The Hospital Action Group is determined to do all it can to ensure the continuation of the NHS staffing of the Intermediate Care Beds in the New Chipping Norton and District War Memorial Hospital. This is what the people were promised during and after the public consultation.




Clive Hill and Chunky Townley were all over local BBC news bulletins on Tuesday and Wednesday trying to create awareness about the latest bit of double dealing that the local Primary Care Trust is involved in. They haven't officially said so yet but they have started a softening-up exercise to argue that providing a Minor Injuries Service at Chippy Hospital would be so expensive that it can't be done. Apparently they accidentally let the cat out of the bag at a meeting of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee last week. It is a total scandal that they are using figures about the lack of demand for the service after two or three years when the hospital has not even been providing a proper service. Talk about pulling a fast one.

The fact is that the deal that was brokered by the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee and eventually accepted by the Chippy Action Groups clearly and firmly promised 14 Intermediate Care Beds (staffed by NHS nurses) an X-ray facility and a Minor Injuries Unit. The PCT stated at the time (about three years ago) that they were developing a model for an MIU service for the whole county and county-wide consultation would take place immediately. They have not carried out any consultation. Now they don't want to provide a service at all. Well that is not on. The deal struck made it clear that any changes which affected the level of service supplied to residents would have to go back for a full consultation procedure. The Overview and Scrutiny Committee are bound to enforce that provision and - if necessary - report any breach to the Minister..

Hilary Biles has met with Mr Webb at the PCT and made it clear that she will insist on a new full consultation if such a dramatic service is proposed. The PCT have promised her that they do understand the special needs of Chippy - being so far off the beaten track and being at the receiving end of a lousy ambulance service, a lousy out of hours service and an appalling minor injuries service. This surely is the time for a bit of creative thinking to try and tie together the new hospital facility with the new doctors surgeries, and an improved paramedic/ambulance service. The PTC have promised Hilary they will try and come up with some proposals within the next month or so which will be acceptable to everybody. That is good news. We all know that money is short but we surely have not yet reached a point where firm agreements and promises hammered out over five years and formally endorsed by the Statutory Health Watchdog for the county can simply be torn up. We need to stay vigilant and ensure we fight for what we have been promised




Later this year our new hospital will open. For the last five years groups of people from the town and villages around have been fighting to try and ensure that the services available in the new hospital will be up to the standard we are used to. Worries have centred around the fact that in order to save costs the Local PCT and the County Council have got together and invented a new kind of healthcare centre.  Hospital services like Maternity, Intermediate Care beds (where you stay for a week or so on your way back home after an operation in the JR). Minor Injuries, Consultant clinics and GP surgeries are being located right next to  a Care Home so that some facilities and personnel can be shared.

Fine in theory - except the Care Home is run by a private company (the Orders of St John Care Trust) with a different ethos from the NHS and has little experience of running hospitals. The Hospital Action Group believed from the start that it was essential that the management of the Care Home should be kept quite separate from the Hospital in order to maintain standards. Quite simply we have been worried that the Hospital would become controlled by the much bigger non-NHS Care Home.

We knew we were on a slippery slope when we were first told that services like cleaning and catering for the whole site would be run by the OSJ (the Orders of St John Care Trust). But next we were told that if the OSJ provided meals and cleaning to the NHS then VAT would become payable - not only on the services provided but on the building costs of the whole place. This would cost millions so sorry folks but the Order of St John would have to "manage" the non-medical aspects of the Intermediate Care Beds after all. 

Next we were told that it was bad practice for the management of the Intermediate Care beds to be split between  the NHS and the OSJ so sorry again but now the nurses would have to be transferred to the employment of the OSJ.

At this point a major row broke out. Campaigners in the town dug their heels in  and decided to fight for the principle of keeping nurses within the NHS.  An unbelievable amount of energy was expended! Chunky Townley lobbied the District Council. Hilary went up to London to meet members of the Re-configuration panel. The Vicar  made a marvellous address to the assembled County Council. The committee of the Hospital Action Group descended in force on the Annual General Meeting of the PTC.  David Cameron convened a round table get together of all the parties. The dispute eventually reached a really important committee called the Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee - the key watchdog for patients in the county. Changes to local Health Services have to be referred to them and if they aren't happy they have the power to send cases to the Minister of Health for review. 

The PCT Chief Executive at the time was a bully and in a memorable outburst told the committee that he had had enough of being reviewed and enough of being scrutinised.   He proposed a compromise - that nurses in the Hospital should continue to be employed by the NHS and would be "seconded" to work for the OSJ - retaining all their NHS benefits,  career opportunities, pension rights etc. 

In their wisdom and to their eternal shame the Overview and Scrutiny Committee were cowed by the PCT into accepting this compromise. (But not let it be said the representative on the committee for West Oxfordshire -the redoubtable Simon Hoare - who continued to fight the case for NHS nurses and voted against the compromise).  Nobody in Chippy was happy but the deal was done. It was solemnly recorded in the minutes. No way could the agreement be broken without the wrath of the Scrutiny Committee being brought down on the heads of the PCT Board. Basically the Hospital Action Group were told to shut up and lump it. It is this agreement - proposed by the PCT themselves - about which they are now saying sorry new government guidelines don't allow us to "second" the nurses. We can't honour our promises to you after all. The nurses must now transfer over to full employment with the Orders of St John.

This is finally the bottom of the slippery slope. Some of us believe that this is where the PCT have been leading us by the nose all along. The consultation has been a complete and total sham. The feeling is one of real betrayal.

The staff at the hospital don't want to leave the NHS. If the PCT persist with their policy they will lose some of their best people. Last month a senior nursing appointment was advertised. Twelve nurses applied but when they heard that an almost immediate TUPE transfer over to the Orders of St John was involved only one turned up for the interview. This is only the beginning. The hospital will fail to recruit the right staff and services will suffer.

David Cameron has appealed personally to the Health Minister asking him to allow the "secondment" route - but has met a stone wall. The Action Group have been actively lobbying local politicians. The Vicar is having another go in a letter to Andy Burnham.  Now its down to us all - Joe Public - to join the protest. The poll on this site attracted the largest number of participants ever. Over 500 people took part and 83% of them wanted the hospital to be staffed by NHS nurses. An absolutely clear-cut result. Ask the candidates in the coming elections - both general and local - where they stand on this issue.  Every party bangs on about local communities making their own local decisions - but when it comes down to it consultations prove to be worthless. Central government does what it likes.

We are organising a protest march in the Market Square on the April 10th at 11am. Please be there if you can. Put up one of the posters for us. We need all the publicity we can get.  We are also printing thousands of postcards which we want people to post to the Minister of Health. One may drop through your door soon - if not pick one up on the 10th. A leaflet is being distributed over the coming days around the town. This is what it says.....





The Hospital Action Group strongly believes that nurses at Chippy hospital should be employed by the NHS. This is the only way of guaranteeing that the highest quality staff are recruited and standards are maintained. Its the only way of keeping the motivation of nurses high by providing continuous training in latest techniques and ensuring that a fulfilling career structure is guaranteed (including pay and pensions). This is particularly important where the private partner in this enterprise has virtually no experience of running hospital services.
During a long consultation which began in 2004 the public have always made it clear that they wanted hospital services retained within the NHS.  Two petitions demanding this have been signed by over 10,000 local residents. We have been reassured on numerous occasions that nurses would remain within the employment of the NHS. There have been several attempts to undermine this agreement which were strongly resisted by the Hospital Action Group.
These commitments have all been made to us publicly and in writing. It is only because they have been made so clearly that we as an Action Group - have felt able to continue to support the development of a very complex healthcare project which seeks to co-locate a Hospital and a Care Home. All along we have been fearful that our much-loved Hospital would end up by being simply absorbed in a Private Care Home facility.
So now we are really devastated to be told at this late stage by the Oxfordshire PCT that recent guidelines issued by the government mean that the PCT are forced to backtrack on all the undertakings they have made to us. They say the nurses must accept a transfer after all to the Orders of St John. There is no alternative. Appeals by our group and by our MP to the Health Secretary have fallen on deaf ears.
Changes to solemn agreements at this late stage make a mockery of six years of consultation. Join the Hospital Action Group fight  to keep our hospital nurses within the NHS. Contact Andy Burnham using one of our pre-printed postcards.  And please come to a demonstration..

Chipping Norton Market Square
Saturday April 10th at 11.00 am



Hospital protest brings out the crowd

The head of the column of 200 people waits to move off

Chairman of the League of Friends Jo Graves and District Council Candidate Gina Burrows
sign their letter to the Health Minister

Hospital Action Group Committee members Dave Hawtin and John Grantham flank
County Councillor Hilary Biles as they lead the procession past the Lower Town hall




The Tory "Gang of Three"  County Councillor Biles. District Councillor Candidate Roy-Barker
and retiring District Councillor Townley



"What do we want" Nurses in the NHS "When do we want them" Now!



Last week Jo Graves was a lone voice at the Town Council. She was arguing that we should drop the words "WAR MEMORIAL" in the name of the new hospital, forget about world wars and move on to thinking about the future. She was well and truly defeated. But she hasn't given up yet. Oh no!  Jo has now written petulantly to the League of Friends........

"You will probably have heard by now from various sources that at the CN Town Council meeting on Monday a motion was passed to name the new Hospital : "Chipping Norton War Memorial Community Hospital".  I understand from Ruth Atkins that the PCT want WODC to have an opinion about this too"  Mrs Graves seems to implying that there is some chance that WODC will support her stance against the Town Council. If she thinks that then she has lost any political nous she might have ever possessed. Just where does she think she is leading the League of Friends

In the same letter Jo writes...." We have also been asked by Ruth Atkins to come up with some names for the internal wards".

Jo does not seem to realise that she is not the only person who has been asked for ideas. However this has not prevented her from assuming that she is now in complete control of this naming process and is busy bustling around town actually telling people they are to be honoured. What an unbelievable cheek.

"I asked Drs Sheila and Bruce Parker and they would be honoured to have the Outpatients and the Clinics named after them as "The Bruce and Sheila Parker Suite" Dr Bruce did say that it would be good if the West St Surgery were also remembered in the naming, suggesting for Intermediate care beds "The Latcham Ward". He also suggested that the maternity Unit might be named after a Sister Fowlie, but at Tuesday's LoF meeting it was suggested that we might name the maternity unit after Frances Barnsley, who has brought many young people into the world - was she at Chippy for 25 years She did build up the midwife- lead unit to hold Beacon status. I am currently trying to contact Frances to ask her how she feels about this What do you members think

Well Jo - I've been having a consultation around town with all my contacts who are clearly different from yours. Everyone agrees that Bruce and Sheila Parker deserve a mention but none of your other nominees get the thumbs up. Way ahead of the field is the man everyone in the town considers the embodiment of expert local medical care - Dr Martin Lawrence. It is unthinkable that a new hospital would be built without his name being honoured in some way.

You also have to take on board the fact that this hospital would simply have never happened without the tireless dedication over five years of a group of people who kept up an endless pressure group campaign on three different PCTs and six different PCT chief executives. At times the whole thing seemed seemed hopeless and discouraging but they kept plugging away with the invaluable help of David Cameron. At no stage did the League of Friends lend any significant support to this campaign. There were basically two leaders who saw the campaign through to a successful conclusion. One was Chunky Townley and the other was our County Councillor Hilary Biles. They should both be honoured. The facility they fought hardest to protect was the Intermediate Beds ward - and into the future that is the thing that will continue to need some heavyweight protection. It should be called the Hilary Biles Ward. The other thing that is still being fought over is the provision of Minor Injuries cover. Chunky Townley has been a leading advocate of linking ambulance cover, first responders, out of hours GP cover and minor injuries into a 24-hour Chippy hospital based service. Chunky is still involved in fighting for this facility. When it is settled that service should carry his name. Apart from anything else this would ensure his lifelong dedication to keeping it going!!

Please post any other suggestions you may have in the Forum and we will make sure the PCT hear about them. This is another hospital decision that should be made as democratic as possible. (Sometime somebody will tell us how on earth the new care home came to be called Cornish House. Sounds just like a block of flats)


Hospital League of Friends start playing politics. Bad Move!

Recently elected as Chairman of the League of Friends, Jo Graves seems to think she can come to agreements with the PCT about the new hospital with absolutely no consultation with anybody. Today she announced that she had agreed at a meeting with the PCT that the new hospital would be named Chipping Norton & District Community Hospital. Having myself spent five years involved in discussions and arguments with the local health authorities about the services to be provided at the hospital I can vividly remember the time several years ago when we finally got a firm agreement that the new hospital would be called the Chipping Norton War Memorial Hospital. (The PCT wanted to call it some daft PC name like Primary Healthcare Complex!) We were very relieved and pleased that the original bequest in 1919 of the building and a substantial sum of money to the town to set up a hospital in memory of the townsfolk who had lost their lives in the first world would continue to be honoured. The original bequest lives on in the sense that the value of the building and the land has paid for the lion's share of the capital cost of the new hospital. It seems entirely fitting to continue to honour the spirit of the original bequest in the name of the hospital. We were also promised that a number of artefacts from the present building (like the brass plaque shown above) would be re-located to the new building. At the time the League of Friends insisted that unless the name was retained it would not be possible for them to continue to spend their accumulated funds on further donations to the hospital. There was widespread and enthusiastic support in the town for retaining the old name - from the Action Groups. from town councillors and all the District councillors as well as the County Councillor. Now suddenly - without so much as a "by your leave" - Mrs Graves has decided to simply ignore all the background. If she has abandoned the previously-agreed name as part of some deal - what exactly are we getting in return She seems to think she has the authority to reach a new agreement all on her own with the PCT. It just ain't so Jo. Look up the detailed note on the form of consultation agreed between the PCT and the town and you'll find a whole lot of names on the list above yours. And if you are missing any of the minutes at which these agreements about the name were made just give us a shout!!

Lord knows why we are wasting time by stirring up matters settled years ago. There is a lot more important stuff still to do. Lots of better things to be spending our energies on. We still don't know what sort of minor injuries set up we are going to be provided with. We have still not heard  how this will be integrated  with an ambulance and paramedic team based at the hospital and with  a vastly improved out of hours service based around the GP surgeries at the new hospital.  We were promised consultation and a strategy about all of this. If you want to do something really useful Mrs Graves - these are the issues to worry about.



Dave delivers fast on a big promise to Chippy

Well blow me....Dave has already delivered on a big promise he made to the Town before the election. We were told that when Dave became Prime MInister he would ensure that it would be possible for the nurses at Chippy Hospital to stay employed by the NHS - for at least three years. This was a solemn promise made in 2007 by the Oxfordshire PCT. That promise was overruled by the Labour Health Minister last year and provoked strong protests from the local Action Groups.

Hilary Biles has kindly sent us a copy of a letter from the new Heath Secretary Andrew Lansley to the Prime Minister dated last week........Crucial extracts are as follows.....

.....in 2007, after a local campaign, Oxfordshire PCT agreed that Retention of Employment (RoE) could be used to allow the staff to continue being employed by the PCT for a period of three years without transferring their employment to the Order of St John...........in 2009, following concerns about the widespread use of RoE, the last Government passed regulations that made any subsequent use of RoE subject to Secretary of State approval. An application was made to use RoE in this instance but was turned down by the then minister..........it is clear to me that commitments were made by the PCT to staff and campaigners concerning Chipping Norton Hospital. With colleagues, I will therefore be discussing how we can give effect to the commitments made on an exceptional basis.

Fantastic news. Really fast work. 6000 very grateful Chippy residents. Three cheers for Dave!