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The PCT are now going to consult over the MIU.

There are still three big outstanding issues about our new hospital. Where will it be Who will own the buildings and run it Will there be a Minor Injuries Unit (A long campaign during the summer secured a promise on the number of beds and an x-ray unit.) The PCT keep telling us that they can just make these decisions but they are whistling to keep their courage up. After last summer's botched consultation and the growing prospect of a referral of this issue to the minister or even a judicial review, the PCT badly need an agreement on all of this.

There are now a number of groups who are conducting a direct dialogue with the PCT on a way forward. There is our MP together with Barry Norton of the WODC who have made proposals to the PCT and met them a number of times. They are stressing to the PCT that they need to get agreement from the community on their proposals and this won't be forthcoming if there is perceived to be any cut in service levels. David Cameron keeps urging the PCT to make one last push for agreement.

There is the Hospital Users Group which is a local group convened by the Town Council to represent all opinions in the district. It is chaired by the Rev Steve Weston, other members on the group are: Reg Hurly of the Patient and Public Involvement in Health Forum Clive Hill of the Hospital Action Group Dr Bruce Parker, retired local GP Eve Coles, District Councillor Graham Thornton, Chadlington resident Jo Graves, Chipping Norton Town Council and Rob Evans, local County Councillor.

There are a couple of Patient Forums but they don't seem to have any teeth. The body who potentially can secure a result is the County Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee which is made up of County and District councillors. This committee has a statutory right to be consulted about substantial changes to Health provision in its area. They are the only democratic representatives of Joe Public in all of this and were supposed to take over a watchdog role from the Community Health Councils which were closed down by the government eighteen months ago. They have the right to ask for a decision to be referred to the Secretary of State if they are eventually not satisfied with a proposal from a local PCT or Hospital Trust. The trouble is that this committee is new and still finding its feet and it has an impossible agenda...so many things are happening on the health front in Oxfordshire at the moment. We have to thank Councillor Hilary Biles - the West Oxfordshire representative on this committee - for having kept Chippy Hospital so high on the agenda during the last year. She has fought tenaciously and asked the tough questions. She was once told by the Chairman to remember that this committee was for the whole county - not just for Chipping Norton. She has resisted the idea that the committee can endorse the PCT's plans without having the figures and seeing the business case. After the PCT failed last week to produce - as it had promised - the financial details of its proposals - a sub-committee was appointed to follow this up. Hilary is on it. She has also been asked to monitor the discussions going on between the Chippy GPs and the PCabout the provision of Minor Injuries cover, She is now officially Inquisitioner in Chief.

SO against that background...four bits of news.

The PCT announced last week that one of the town surgeries had expressed a wish to re-locate to the new hospital site.

The Hospital User Group in a Press Release stated this week......It has been established that a facility for coping with emergency treatment and minor injuries will be included in the new build.

Rob Evans reported on Thursday that the Hospital Users Group were pressing the OCC to undertake a public consultation on which location should be selected for a new build. Rob indicated that the County were responding positively to this suggestion

PCT to consult on any Minor Injuries Unit changes

Last week the PCT announced at a meeting of the Oxfordshire County Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee that they will close the Chippy MIU (Minor Injuries Unit) in April. District Councillor Hilary Biles who is on the committee reported back to the WODC. The WODC (we guess it was Barry Norton) immediately wrote to the PTC and objected - pointing out that the PTC was required to consult before taking such action. Also pointing out that when another PCT had tried to do the same thing in Witney last year the WODC had taken them to the High Court and won. The WODC issued a Press Release (see below). The PCT were furious and demanded the withdrawal of the Press Release. The WODC have stood their ground and refused. The PCT have now said they will consult. Well done and thanks from all of us. For the last year Barry Norton and Hilary Biles with the backing of David Cameron have put up a storming performance on behalf of Chippy and District over the Hospital.

The sooner all this is sorted the better for everyone.

Monday morning in Oxford.......Conservative District Councillors Barry Norton and Hilary Biles and David Cameron MP met the PCT (Anita Hyam and Mike Williams) to press for a resolution of the outstanding MIU issues. Its really good to know that some people are fighting for Chippy and our medical services - not just talking about it. The group were arguing strongly that any solution should be hospital-based and were suggesting that an ambulance and paramedic stationed at the hospital overnight would be the best basis for an out of hours service. The PCT - who are clearly having problems keeping the local Chippy GPs in line - promised to give careful consideration to the idea. The PCT also took the opportunity to completely deny the story (see below) about x-ray being sited at the White House Surgery. Things are getting out of hand. The surgeries are now briefing against each other to protect their own interests. The sooner all this is all sorted the better for everyone.


We hear on very good authority that the PCT are seriously considering locating a new x-ray facility at the White House Surgery - not at the hospital!

The Hospital row has all been about whether the healthcare facility which the PCT wants to build together with the Oxfordshire Social Services (who are having to replace Castleview) really adds up to a hospital at all. Some people described the original plan as a Care Home with a few intermediate care beds attached. 10,000 people signed a petition demanding that a modern x-ray unit and the minor injuries unit should be retained as part of the hospital. The PCT quickly conceded the x-ray facility, but has continued to drag its feet over a minor injuries unit. No proposals have been forthcoming. Submissions from the Hospital Action Group and the MP have so far failed to elicit any new proposals. The PCT seem to be hanging on to their idea of getting minor injuries handled by GPs. Meanwhile we keep being told that everything is becoming incredibly urgent because OCC have to decide about Castleview and its new location very very shortly now. Its beginning to look as if the town will be asked to endorse a new build care home on a new site - before the details of a new hospital are finalised.

Since the beginning of the consultation the town have been extremely suspicious of the PCT and the approach they have adopted. Nobody has been convinced of their good faith. Now comes word of what looks as if it could be the biggest deception of all. Remember that a concession by the PCT that the new facility would include an x-ray unit did more than anything else to persuade the Action Group and the town that we might get a "real" hospital after all. Now we hear on very good authority that the PCT are seriously considering locating the new x-ray facility at the White House Surgery - not on the hospital site at all. No x-ray. No MIU! at the hospital. The PCT may say that it is still only looking at options but where did this option come from And how is it compatible with any of the undertakings made so far. The news beggars belief. We are being given the run around again and it will soon not be possible to believe a word that the PCT says.


The two ladies in black are Anita Higham and Hazell Knott of the PCT

Having taken the town's money - within two years the PCT say the MIU is unsafe, they can't get the staff. they close it at night (without any consultation) and eventually say they want to close it altogether. What can we believe And can we have our money back


The PCT are working on their revised plans for a Minor Injuries Service and the OCC are carrying out an Options Review on the three different site possibilities for a new Castleview and Hospital (Present site, Cromwell Park and the Parker Knoll site. Penhurst is now out of the frame). Come January they will be desperate to find some user group representing the whole Chippy and District catchment area to discuss their plans with. The problem is that no such group exists yet. The Chippy Town Council represents only a small part of the area. At the Town Council meeting on Monday it transpired that the PCT had written to the Chippy Town Council asking them to organise something. Meanwhile the Hospital Action Group and the Castleview Stakeholders Group had come up with a joint suggestion which was to ask Steven Weston (left) to chair a HOSPITAL USERS GROUP In the short term Steven and the Mayor would convene a meeting of the Chairmen of all the Parish Councils involved, all the district and County Councillors, some members of the Town Council, the Chairman of the Castleview Stakeholders Group and members of the Action Group. This gathering would decide on the membership of a much smaller group (Ideally no more than six people) who would then serve as a consultation group who would speak for all of us and help take forward the plans for the new care home and hospital. This group should be politically balanced and geographically representative. Quite a challenging brief.


At the Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee in Oxford yesterday, Clive Hill of the Hospital Action Group addressed the committee and emphsised the need for progress on an MIU solution. In the committee discussion West Oxfordshire District Councils representative, Cllr Hilary Hibbert- Biles, fought strongly in favour of retaining a Minor Injuries Unit at the proposed new Chipping Norton Hospital and to remove the strings attached to the extra two beds offered by Cherwell Vale PCT. Cllr Biles said, Minor Injuries units were originally set up to provide rural areas with an emergency department. Chipping Norton has had an MIU for years and the public want it to continue. With the current out of hours service, the fact there are no doctors available after 6.30pm unless you go to Banbury and scant ambulance coverage, a Minor Injuries Unit is essential.

Clive Hill reports that Jonathan Coombes said that operating the MIU under present arrangements is clinically unsafe, that only 3 people in a year attended out of hours and that half those going to MIU should have gone to a GP He said the PCT were talking to Doctors about MIU including a hospital based service but only between 8.00 and 6.30. Talking to Ambulance service about out of hours cover by paramedics but did not want people sitting around doing nothing. Out of hours is the big issue. Costs for a GP available out of hours were talked about as being 150 to 200 per hour however one member said more like 300 per hour

The Primary Care Trust was asked to reconsider its view by 15th December and to present a full business case to the next meeting of the committee.

Clive Hill and Hilary Biles are pictured together at the Council meeting of the WODC in August,

On behalf of 10,000 people

The CN Hospital Action Group welcomes the further concessions which the PCT has now made. Since the NO CUTS campaign began in August the PCT's original proposal has been modified by

1. an agreement to keep a modernised x-ray facility
2. an agreement to retain the current number of 14 hospital beds
3. a firmer reassurance about the future of maternity services
4. a commitment to re-invest the proceeds from any property sale in a new publicly-owned town hospital facility. (This undertaking has not yet been given in writing anywhere as far as we know)

However there has been no progress on a proposal for the Minor Injuries Service. The PCT are still only proposing a daytime service up to 6.30pm - run from the GP's surgeries. Until recently Chippy enjoyed a 24 hour service run by the Hospital. This was then cut back - without any kind of consultation - to a 8am - 9pm service because of a claimed difficulty in recruiting staff. After over 50 years of such a service being available the PCT now claim it is unsafe - because hospital nurses are diverted from their care of in-patients. No accurate statistics seem to exist about the usage levels or costs of this service - particularly overnight. What is certain is that people who have used the service value it extremely highly and are deeply appreciative of the attention they received.

Chipping Norton is a remote place and is often cut off in winter. Our Ambulance Station was recently closed. In this situation, elderly residents and young mothers with children can feel vulnerable and isolated when an accident occurs - particularly in the evening and at night. Travelling to Banbury or Oxford is not straightforward for many people and in any case A&E departments are reported to be severely stretched. Over 10,000 local residents recently signed a Petition saying they wanted NO CUTS in the Minor Injuries Service.

The CN Hospital Action Group feel it is essential to retain a hospital-based 24-hr Minor Injuries Unit in the town. A detailed proposal for this is needed before the Public will be able to support the PCT's overall plan for Healthcare in Chipping Norton. The Action Group will continue to fight to ensure that the best possible way forward on Minor Injuries is found.


An important meeting in the Town Hall today when our MP David Cameron came with Barry Norton (Leader of the WODC) to hear what members of the Hospital Action Group had to report from their discussions with local residents - following the "decisions" of the PTC last week. David has been a terrific supporter of the NO CUTS Campaign since the very beginning. Barry marshalled the District Council's strong support of the call for NO CUTS back in September. Both have been influential in lobbying the PCT and pushing the town's case. Barry had a last-minute meeting with the PCT just before decision day. They have been really important and powerful friends to Chippy during the campaign period and we are grateful. The Action Group told them that the mood in the town was that we must continue the fight to maintain a Minor Injuries Unit. Given agreement on that it was possible that peace could break out and allow all the details of location and "ownership" to be worked through in a co-operative fashion. David told us we must hold absolutely firm on the MIU issue. He would now write to the PCT urging them to come up fast with some concrete proposals on Minor Injuries - pointing out how close they were now to finding an overall agreement. We formulated a number of suggestions together during the meeting - particularly ways of trying to overcome nurse recruitment problems (where the District may be able to help on housing issues), of possible job-sharing schemes with the JR, and creative ways of involving paramedics from the Ambulance service. David would now ask for a meeting with the PCT. He is by far the best intermediary in sight. Lets hope the PCT will listen and that he can broker a deal. Wish him luck. Everyone keep their fingers crossed. If he can't then its back to the barricades.


About forty people made it from Chippy to Banbury on Thursday morning to hear the PCT make their decision. The PCT decided to go ahead with a partnership deal with the County and a private company - the Oxford Care Partnership - to build a spanking new state of the art hospital complex alongside a rebuilt Castleview. The old buildings are doomed. The new site is not yet settled. But the decision has been taken in principle. The PCT has committed to buy beds in the new care home/hospital so the County is happy and can move ahead with its own planning. The PCT had been proposing to commit to 12 beds. Now they have agreed to maintain the number of beds at the present level of 14 - at least for the time being. The PCT had already agreed to retain an x-ray facility. They have obtained a really strong undertaking from the John Radcliffe that Maternity services will be retained in Chippy. They promised that money raised from any asset sale (expected to be around 3m) would be kept in Chippy. These "concessions and clarifications" all seem to be the result of pressure which the high profile New Cuts campaign has brought to bear. The support from the town has been fantastic. Something positive has been achieved. So the fight has been worth it. But not according to Heather Barnett of the PCT who was talking with Action Group Chairman Chunky Townley at one of today's many media interviews. "All your group succeeded in doing was turning the consultation into a battleground" she said. "These concessions would all have been made anyway as part of the normal process". If you believe that you will believe anything. Its exactly the sort of comment which we have come to expect from this PCT who will never be trusted again in Chippy. They launched a confusing set of options and hoped that the public wouldn't notice. They were astounded by the vociferous response and have been clawing their way back since. But its not all over yet. The main outstanding issue now is what form a Minor Injuries Unit will take. The PCT have undertaken to undertake an URGENT review. Where will it be based. What hours Who will staff it The Action Group intend to keep fighting to try and ensure we get a serious solution. But why on earth hasn't all this been worked out by now There's been plenty of time. Have the GPs been co-operating fully in finding the best way through The veteran and much-respected local GP Bruce Parker has even offered to run an overnight Minor Injuries Service himself to show how it can be done. As for location, a full appraisal is already underway by the County to look at sites for the new complex. There are four candidates. 1. The present site. 2. Parker Knoll. 3. The OCC land on London Road opposite Parker Knoll (Rock Hill Farm) and 4. (big surprise) Penhurst School. The County have promised they will seek the views of the town about this - but a formal consultation is unlikely. The Action Group will stay in touch with this and try and keep everyone informed.

Health and social care in Chipping Norton is secure for the long term future, according to NHS managers who have decided to move services from the old hospital to a new building in the town. But campaigners are still concerned about the move, because minor injury care in the town has been left unresolved. Cherwell Vale Primary Care Trust voted on October 7 to move its NHS facilities out of the community hospital into a shared development with Oxfordshire County Council, which will include nursing home beds. The proposals had caused controversy in the town, and residents were angry the move would reduce beds from 18 to 12, and cut the hospital-run minor injures unit. At the PCT meeting, managers agreed to increase bed provision in the new building to 14 beds, until a new home-based rehabilitation service was in place. A state-of-the-art X-ray unit will also be installed, and maternity will continue, as well as falls specialist support and visiting gerontology advice. But they warned that changes would still have to be made to the MIU, because it was unsafe for patients and staff. A feasibility study will look at three sites in the town -- Rock Hill Farm and the Parker Knoll factory, both off London Road, and the old Castle View site in Spring Street. But members of Chipping Norton Hospital Action Group were unhappy with the final decision. Chairman Robert Townley said: "I don't think we've achieved much. "We predicted they would give a concession of 14 beds just to make people feel a bit happier, but they haven't addressed the MIU at all. "It's a very big issue, because if you live in a rural area and you can't access an MIU between 6pm and 9am that's a problem."

Those of us present at the PCT meeting don't understand where THREE sites have suddenly come from since we all heard the four detailed quite clearly. Is there some back pedalling going on

Town gets new community hospital

For the past six months health bosses had been discussing various options for future health care in Chipping Norton. On Thursday they decided to develop a new hospital on another, as yet undecided location in the town, to replace the existing hospital. It follows months of campaigning by local people who were concerned over the future of the maternity, X-ray and minor injury services in the area. Cherwell Vale Primary Care Trust had to decide whether to go for a brand new hospital with private finance, or re-develop the existing site. For the past six months they have held a series of public meetings and consultations. The new hospital will have 14 beds rather than the 12 originally proposed, and many services are to stay. Jonathan Coombes, from Cherwell Vale PCT said: "There always will be very strong feeling for what is a very good service. "What we are trying to do here is to create modern, fit for purpose buildings that will last into the future, that actually protect the services at Chipping Norton more than leaving them as they are." Staff at the hospital have welcomed the decision, while the Hospital Action Group is treating the news more cautiously. The HAG said it is still waiting to hear what is going to happen to the minor injuries unit, which it says is desperately needed in the town.

Rob Evans -the local County Councillor - issued a Press Release on 12th October which included the following....."The PCT have now signed up to a new day hospital with space for specialist clinics, brand new X Ray unit, continuation of the maternity unit with commitments from the JR Hospitals Trust, 14 intermediate care beds rather than 12 and an earlier introduction of extended intermediate care arrangements in peoples homes. But this will still be a reduced service without a viable minor injuries unit and the Stakeholder group will continue to urge the PCT to sort out a scheme with the two local GP surgeries that will come close to satisfying the town".
What nobody can quite understand is how a Stakeholder Group which was appointed to look at Castleview ends up lobbying for a Minor Injuries Unit at the new hospital. There needs to be some clarification about all of this.....starting perhaps with the election of a Hospital Stakeholder Group which is a bit more democratic, open and representative than the Castleview one was.



Well over 100 people turned up at the Town Hall on Monday evening to hear the Action Group give a Progress Report on the Campaign - prior to the PCT's decision meeting this Thursday. Chunky Townley - the Chairman - reviewed the various lobbying and media efforts which had gone on so far. Gerry Alcock and John Grantham outlined the PCT's report on the consultation (see below) and underlined the fact that with such a tiny response it was difficult to see that the PCT had a mandate for any course of action. Steve Akers reported on the Action Group's visit to the PCT AGM the previous week and his view that we had made some friends and won some support. Finally Clive Hill outlined the options which exist for future action....including appeals to the Secretary of State, working with the Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, liaising with the local Patients Forum and the idea which perhaps created most interest in the hall of following Watlington's example and buying the hospital and running it ourselves. There was a lively discussion and the general mood was overwhelmingly to encourage the Action Committee to keep pressing for a hospital-based MIU and to retain bed numbers. A statement was endorsed which will be relayed to the PCT Board on Thursday. Highlights from the debate were a strong rallying cry from Liberal Democrat Liz Leffmann that we should carry on demanding the facilities we need, a promise from Councillor Hilary Biles who is a member of the Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee that she and her colleagues would try to ensure that Chippy Hospital got a fair hearing. A visitor from New South Wales with family in Chippy exhorted us to fight and told us about similar experiences back home. County Councillor Rob Evans made a long speech which few could follow but which seemed to be a variant on the theme we are hearing all the time from the County Council these days - that unless the PCT quickly decide on an Option 1 solution (ie working with the OCC and buying at least 12 of their beds) then its probably goodbye to a Chippy Residential Care Home. With all this crude bullying going on between public bodies its no wonder that the PCT try bullying us in their turn!! Hilary Biles said she couldn't understand what Rob was talking about and it was time to call the OCC's bluff. Clive Hill rightly suggested that it was the County Council who had got us into this mess in the first place by using the Castleview situation to precipitate a crisis about the hospital. Clive made a plea for more information - tell us how things are working. The Ambulance Service, the out of hours service, the Intermediate Care service. The PCT keep telling us that everything's rosy. Is this true So now the spotlight turns to the Board Meeting in Banbury on Thursday. Its a meeting in Public. It should be worth listening to and we would like a few Chippy people there. 9.15am at the Post Graduate Lecture Theatre in the Horton. Drive into Banbury and turn right at the lights up the hill to the Horton. First entrance after the traffic lights on the left is where the venue is. You will have to park in the Horton Car Park (Pay and Display) or smarter to use Sainsbury's car park a bit further on.


In the whole consultation exercise, only 37 peoplevoted for the PCT's preferred option - even that was with provisos.

The PCT take their decision about our hospital next Thursday at a Board meeting. The executives responsible have only now produced a report on the outcome of the consultation process and this is supposed to be a basis for the Board to decide which option to back. But my word - do they have a problem!! And its absolutely nothing to do with the Action Group or the Petition or the Public Meetings. Its entirely of their own making. Their problem is simply that with all the brouhaha, all the publicity, the huge meetings and the media exposure they only received 21 completed consultation forms, 59 letters and 21 e-mails - a grand total of 106 responses. (compare that with the League of Friends questionnaire returned by 2,000 people) From a "catchment" population of 25,000. 106 responses!! It just defies belief. Without the Petition of 10,000 signatures the PCT might have argued that there was a complete public apathy. But that is patently not the case. As my old Mum used to say - a blind man on a galloping horse can see what's going on here. The public did not like any of the options as presented so they boycotted the whole consultation fiasco. Which leaves the poor old PCT to make whatever it can out of those 106 responses. But so few responses mean very little.

The powerful Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OJHOSC) has concluded that under the present circumstances they could not support the PCT proposals. The members of that committee wished to be assured that there was public support for the preferred option. So where is there any evidence of that support

Looking at the way the 106 respondents voted for the three options.

Over half - 56 people didn't express a preference or found none acceptable. 4 voted for Option 3
(Minimal changes to services in the existing buildings).
9 voted for Option 2 (
improve services in the existing buildings).
37 people voted for Option 1 (
improved services in a new building)

where a preference for option 1 was given there were, almost without exception, a number of caveats and comments given in relation to this preference. The main areas for which comments were received are as follows :

A strong desire to see X-ray services continued in the future (39)

A requirement for the Minor Injuries Unit to continue (37)

Strong concerns over any future site and links to the town (28)

Concerns over reduced bed numbers (18)

Requests that all money released be kept in Chipping Norton (17)

So the main conclusions of the report are:

It is clear that there is support for the development of a newly built health care facility in Chipping Norton

It is evident that the majority of people would like all current services to be re-provided in any newly built facility

There is a great deal of mistrust over the reasoning used by the PCT in identifying its proposed range of services

There is clearly a widespread misunderstanding in terms of how home based intermediate care services could support a reduction in bed numbers in the future considering demographic trends and current use of such services

The writers of the report seem to accept that an option involving a new build will only be acceptable with some changes. They seem to be recommending changes but don't quite go so far as to make that clear. They say in pure Sir Humphrey language......
For the PCT preferred option (Option 1) to be more fully supported by the public a number of elements may need to be included or addressed more fully. In order to achieve this a number of matters could be considered.

1 The provision of X-ray services has already been reviewed by the PCT and it is now planned to continue this service in Chipping Norton

2 It would be possible to allay fears around the proposed number of beds and the effectiveness of intermediate care services by initially commissioning more beds in a new facility than the proposed 12 for a limited time whilst re-locating home based intermediate care services to Chipping Norton from Banbury. This would allow intermediate care services time to grow and prove their success without being perceived as jeopardising access to bed based facilities immediately

3 T
he desire for a Minor injuries Unit to be located on the site of a new build but manned via GP contract could be considered.

4 Detailed discussions between all concerned parties around the site (location) are yet to be held. It would be necessary following any decision made by the PCT Board to move ahead with Option 1 to consult further with members of the public on options for the site of any proposed new development.

So will the Board accept these matters If they do we may have a way forward! If they don't the PCT have no basis for proceeding with Option 1. So things would presumably stay as they are on the hospital front...which would be a huge opportunity wasted. Lets hope the Board do the sensible thing next Thursday.


So what happens now The PCT has conceded an x-ray facility but is still being tough about the number of beds and an MIU facility. Keith Ruddle has tabled a brilliant possible way through (READ ABOUT IT) which was discussed at a big Stakeholder Meeting in the Town Hall on 17th September. (READ REPORT) The Action Group travelled to Banbury to meet the PCT on the 20th and they held out - as they clearly must - for the demands made in the Petition. A major Public Meeting is planned in the town for October 4th. The PCT still says it will decide everything on October 7th. The PCT can't say it doesn't know everybody's views. The MP, the Town Council, the District Council and 10,000 petitioners have all voted for NO CUTS. 850 people in the Church made their feelings quite clear. The County Overview and Scrutiny Committee have asked them to hold fire. The County is breathing down their necks saying they want a decision fast because of the Castleview situation. Meanwhile the PCT itself is in the middle of a consultation with its own staff about merging itself with another PCT, appointing new directors and acquiring a new Chief Executive (see below) What a mess...The Cherwell Vale PCT must surely want the Chippy situation sorted out before they fold up. A solution is to hand. For goodness sake lets go for it.


A government minister has admitted that Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital has been under-funded by 28m over four years. Stephen Ladyman MP, the under secretary of state at the Department of Health, made the admission in a letter to north Oxfordshire MP Tony Baldry. Mr Baldry condemned the under-funding saying it had also affected services at Banbury's Horton Hospital. Mr Baldry criticised Mr Ladyman for refusing to set up an independent review of the John Radcliffe's finances after a recent parliamentary debate revealed the extent of the debts at Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust - the body that controls the JR, the Horton, the Churchill and the Radcliffe Infirmary. Mr Baldry said: "It is quite clear that the ORH Trust's finances, especially at the John Radcliffe, are in chaos and getting worse. For the last four years, finances at the John Radcliffe have been seriously deteriorating. "Staggeringly, ministers now admit that the trust has been under-funded for its research effort over this time by about 7m a year. Mr Ladyman admits this amounts to a considerable cumulative financial pressure. That is an understatement. It is an almighty cock-up." Mr Baldry said: "Financial difficulties at the ORH Trust mean the impact is felt by hospitals such as the Horton."


Meanwhile the Cherwell Vale PCT
is planning to disappear!

At its last meeting, the Board of Cherwell Vale PCT approved proposals for new overall joint management arrangements between this PCT and North East Oxfordshire PCT, and in particular for the appointment of a joint Chief Executive and of further joint Directors.

Since the Boards last meeting the following appointments have been made to the three new joint director posts: Director of Clinical Services Hazel Knott Director of Commissioning and Modernisation Emma Tidy Director of Planning and Primary Care Ginny Hope

Because of the need to consult fully with staff on the structure below Director level, the three new Directors will not formally take up their new duties until the beginning of November.

Human Resources services continue to be provided to both PCTs via our shared Director of Human Resources, Graham Warby. The other two Directors are already in place and operating across both PCTs: Director of Public Health (Dr Ljuba Stirzaker) and Director of Finance and Performance (Dr Margaret Norgett). The post of Joint Chief Executive has now been advertised nationally and a selection process is scheduled to take place over 11th and 12th August. The current two Chief Executives of the PCTs, together with existing and designated joint Directors, are leading the process to prepare proposals for the rest of the management structure. These proposals will be the subject of formal consultation with the joint Staff Side representing staff in both PCTs. The Joint Staff Side has agreed that the consultation will run from mid-August to the end of October.


Petition total is 10,526 a truly fantastic effort .
Thanks to everyone who helped !

The Chair of the Castleview Stakeholders Group Keith Ruddle has written an important letter to the PCT following the September 1st meeting - proposing a way ahead. Not everyone will agree with it but this is a must-read contribution to the Debate about the future of Chipping Norton & District Hospital. He reveals that back in March he warned the PCT that their proposals would get a very negative response - unless they were seriously modified and expanded. They weren't seriously modified and we all know what the response has been. Keith is trying again! Full marks for persistence. Lets hope the PCT are listening more carefully this time.




The door to a happy outcome was opened at an important meeting of the Stakeholders Group which took place in Chippy Town Hall on Friday 17th September. Read an account Most people present thought it was a very encouraging meeting. There was some real progress in a discussion of the two difficult issues - the number of beds in a new hospital and the form a Minor Injuries Unit should take. Some of us were beginning to think that with agreement on these big points of difference we could start thinking in terms of a Public Meeting where the Action Committee helped the PCT present the advantages of a new build hospital offering the same range and level of services as at present. But by Monday when the Action Group Committee travelled to Banbury things had changed . The PCT as Mr Tough Guy was back with a vengeance. The door was slammed in our faces. The timing had been fixed to suit Chair Anita Higham and Director Hazel Knott - but they didn't bother to turn up. The Chief Executive was back on his mantra about "we have consulted and now we will decide on October 7th". "There's no point in sending a big delegation because we are having the meeting in our usual Board Room and you won't get in". The most anyone was offering was that in their report to the Board - due to be published on September 30th - some options would be included which would allow the Board to consider the possibility of maintaining 18 beds and of offering a hospital-based Minor Injuries Service. The PCT having insisted that a cut in bed numbers would be compensated for by an increase in Domiciliary Care, we asked a simple question. Would the total expenditure (beds plus domiciliary care) therefore be the same in the two scenarios. But they insisted that this was not about money-saving. It was about delivering appropriate service and so there were no detailed financial costings of this kind. At this point the Action Committee (all with business backgrounds) ran out of any understanding of just how the PCT Board will take their decision. Going all over the same old ground again we kept getting into silly circular arguments. A couple of examples. The problem in supplying a Minor Injuries service is the low level of demand. A "safe" minor injury service requires a high level of skill which you don't want to leave unused most of the time.....but nurses being called away from wards in the Hospital to attend to a Minor Injury represents an unacceptable risk to the safety of in-patients. So the PCT now propose that Minor Injuries should be handled in the Town surgeries - but only up to 6pm. This surely cuts the demand in half in each surgery compared with a single location, making it even more difficult to integrate with other work (and therefore even less economic). We were told that in the last year there were only three cases of a Minor Injury presenting at night. The PCT response to this is to cut the service altogether at night. For the life of us we can't follow that. A hospital-based service with this low level of use would hardly constitute lack of safety for anybody. The Action Committee argued strongly for a hospital-based minor injuries service, manned 24 hours by nurses from the 50-bed hospital/care home complex - and supported by on-call GPs and (ambulance service) paramedics. The Action Committee thought it would probably cost less than buying in a daytime service from GPs. There was a half-hearted undertaking to look at this but we didn't really believe they were serious. By now it was clear that the PCT were not in the game of making any more concessions ahead of the Board meeting. So we must now wait until September 30th and see just what the recommendation to the PCT Board is. A big opportunity has been missed. We will arrange a Public Meeting in the Town Hall after the 30th Sept and before October 7th to give everyone a chance to say what they think. But it looks as if we will need to get the banners out after all on the evening of the 7th for a march to the PCT offices in Banbury. NO CUTS IN OUR HOSPITAL SERVICES!



The OXFORDSHIRE JOINT HEALTH OVERVIEW & SCRUTINY COMMITTEE is a powerful committee consisting of councillors from the County, the Districts and Oxford City. They are a kind of watchdog for us all. They have a statutory right to be consulted about any changes in NHS service in the County. What gives them real teeth is that if they really dont like something they can ask for it to be referred to the Secretary of State. This is quite a sanction.

The committee met in Oxford on Sept 2nd to consider their response to the Consultation options on Chipping Norton Hospital. Chunky Townley and Clive Hill of the Hospital Action Group made a terrific presentation to the committee and District Councillor Hilary Biles was in great form - batting for Chipping Norton. So much so that the Chairman eventually "warned" her that on this committee she was supposed to be talking for Oxfordshire not just her own patch. Eventually the committee felt it simply didnt have enough financial information to make any judgement. And it was angry that the PCT had reported following the first consultation meeting that the town supported OPTION 1. They wanted the PCT to explain on what information that view had been based. They also thought that it was vital for a Community Hospital Strategy to be worked out for the whole County. Approaching these things piecemeal - town by town - doesnt make sense.

The committee resolved to write to the Cherwell Vale PCT asking them to delay making any decision about Chipping Norton Hospital until the Joint Committee has been furnished with more information. The meeting in Chippy the previous evening had closed with the Chairman saying that the PCT Board - having heard everyone's views - would now go away and make its decision on October 7th. This Joint Committee decision will throw a spanner in their timetable. Could be a blessing in disguise and allow for more discussion all round.

UPDATE The O & S Committee have now asked for a summit meeting of all chief execs of trusts to discuss the whole situation across the county and, before Oct 7th. In the meantime nothing can go forward.


750 inside 100 locked out!

What a truly amazing turnout. The general consensus was that around 850 people made it to the Church last night. Not everybody got in! The PCT had boiled down peoples worries to a short list which seemed about right compared with all the comments which petitioners have been hearing in the last few weeks. The worries were : X-ray. MIU, number of beds, maternity and where will the proceeds of selling the hospital go The PCT told us that since the last meeting they have become a two-star authority and can now keep more of any money from asset sales. Last time they said they could keep one million. Now the figure was three million!! What a difference a star makes. Since the site value is much greater than the "NHS book value" of 800,000 quoted last time, we could now have an x-ray unit after all. They said they had got that wrong before. We could also have a separate wing or building with the name "Chipping Norton War Memorial Hospital" on it - owned by the NHS. (They had some other wheeze involving using the money in a more tax-efficient way to pre-pay for bought in services...but that will never fly. The emotional need among towns people for a tangible physical legacy is overwhelming). A lady from the Oxford Radcliffe Trust did provide enormous reassurance over the continuation of maternity services. No guarantees but as good as. And that was the end of the good news. It became totally clear that if there was no property sale there would be no money for improvements. Another version of the Option 1 blackmail. Choose Option 1 or else. And it left the two key questions - the number of beds and the withdrawal of the MIU. They were two of the Petition demands and the PCT has decided to tough it out. Indeed, on several occasions the Chair who is clearly an ex-headmistress - sharply admonished the gathering. "We may decide in the light of the public response (ie you people being difficult) that the best way forward is for us to do nothing". They justify a reduction from 18 to 12 beds by saying there is no demand for more, but in any case they have the flexibility to purchase more if they need them from the Order of St John in the new care home/hospital complex. But most importantly. these days people want to be looked after in their own homes so the reduction in beds will be compensated for with an increase in domiciliary care. All these arguments came under remorseless attack from the audience. The area was growing. The Radcliffe kept saying there was a need for more beds in the area - not fewer. The big hospitals didnt know these beds were available. Thats why they were underused. There were several stories of people who had wanted to go into Chippy Hospital for intermediate care but had not been able to. Hilary Biles said she had heard this "flexibility" of beds argument from the other side. Care Homes said they could purchase more if they needed them. It didnt add up. And as for domiciliary care, the local GPs were telling us that the system simply doesnt work. These points were simply not answered .The PCT persisted in their view that this was not a CUTit was a proposal for delivering service in a new different way. Which left the Minor Injuries Unit. A service would now be provided by GPs but only during the day. At night there would be no cover in the town. (Surely this was a CUT) Chippy wasnt big enough to justify a minor injuries set up. It wasnt viable. But as somebody commented from the floor when you need the service you need it. Statistics are irrelevant. The towns remoteness particularly in winter came up. The absence of any credible ambulance service and the non-availability of paramedics or first responders were raised. But all the PCT promised to do was think about it. No concessions. Its patently clear that some creative, joined-up thinking is needed fast in this area involving the PCT. the GPs and the Ambulance Service. Just ask Dr Parker. Hes already got it worked out for you. This whole process is like getting blood out of a stone. Hundreds of people have spent their August collecting signatures and making a fuss. That has got us an x-ray unit. The next phase which will have to involve some more imaginative protest and publicity and a lot of time and energy may get us more beds saved. Hopefully the resourceful Dr Moore and his colleagues will work out a Minor Injuries solution which everybody can support. The town is in a mood to keep fighting. We will get there in the end..But what an absurd way in the twenty first century to work out a Healthcare Strategy for a proud and prosperous area. This PCT is doing us no favours. They keep saying they are listening. But nobody really believes them. The biggest cheer of the evening came for the man from the floor who said..."The suspicion is that this has all been decided already". As Bill Heine asked the PCT Chief Executive today on his phone-in programme, "How many people out of the 850 present supported your proposals" The answer was one person. The PCT have suggested today that the atmosphere was intimidating. They say there are other views beside those of the Action Group but people were reluctant to express them.. Genuinely, please tell us what they are. Some of us have spent the last few weeks calling on hundreds of houses and meeting people in the Market Square for the petition. We simply havent met anybody speaking up for the PCT proposals. Not quite true. One lady has sought us out and accosted us noisily on every single occasion we have been in the Market Square and told us in no uncertain terms that we are wrong. We have tried to engage her in a dialogue but she has simply told us that we are wrong and the PCT is right. She eventually became part of life's rich pattern among the petitioners. That was the same lady who spoke up for the PCT last night. When somebody in the audience shouted"Why are they right". She answered......."Thats a long story" and left. As Ken Norman who is a local communications and training specialist said today..."I think that its telling that a battalion of PCT representatives armed with PowerPoint slides over 2 public meetings and countless words in several documents have actually managed to convince 1 person out of a community of 6,000. They should reflect on their communication skills and strategy".


Any enquiries (including media questions) please ring Clive Hill on John Grantham on or Gerry Alcock 210 191



Liz Leffman, Liberal Democrat activist and local Parliamentary candidate, says:

The massive turnout at the meeting on Wednesday evening says it all - people all over the area are determined to keep their local hospital services. Having played a part in collecting signatures over the past few weeks, I am committed to making sure that our hospital services are not just maintained but improved to meet the needs of the growing local population.
There are two fundamental flaws in the process that we are in the midst of. First of all, it seems that plans for the hospital are being driven not by the health needs of the town and the surrounding area, but by the needs of the PCT and the County Council. If the question of what to do about Castle View had not come up, would we be talking today about changes in our hospital services We DO need better NHS services for the town, but is the building of those facilities by the Order of St John, who have never built a hospital before, the right solution Secondly, what about the proceeds from the sale of the current site Government policy means that this money will not be used to fund our hospital, but will in part be clawed back into central NHS budgets. Is this right or fair I applaud the PCT for having recognised the importance of retaining X ray services. This decision was taken after listening to what we had to say. Now I urge them to listen again and not to take any hasty decisions.We, the people of Chipping Norton and the local area, will continue to press for the services we need and deserve. I say 'no' to cuts in our hospital services.

Hospital's future still unclear after debate

The future of Chipping Norton's hospital looks no clearer after a heated public meeting attended by more than 700 people. More than 700 people filled the largest venue in the town to discuss the community hospital with Cherwell Vale Primary Care Trust, and about 60 were left waiting outside St Mary's Church, unable to get in. At the start of the meeting nine-year-old Jake Mattock, whose mother credits the hospital with saving his life, presented a petition of more than 10,000 signatures calling for no cuts to services.

The PCT has been consulting the town over the hospital's future, and has so far favoured a plan to move some of its beds to a new privately-run nursing home. Under this scheme, the hospital would lose its X-ray department and minor injuries unit. Hazel Knott, from the PCT, began by saying that following demand from the town, the X-ray service would be kept if its preferred plan goes ahead. She said the minor injuries unit would still be closed, and that local GPs and the out-of-hours GP service could treat the small numbers using the service.

The action group which collected the petition said it would not accept any cuts. Steve Akers said: "You may be having this as a consultation, we in Chipping Norton think we're in negotiation with you over a hospital that was raised by public subscription. The PCT is just one in a long line of boards we have entrusted it to."

Following several heated exchanges, an ex-nurse from the town was booed by the room for backing the PCT's favoured plan. Local GP Dr Jonathan Moore, who has been talking to the PCT and the action group, called for a less aggressive debate. He said: "I think both sides want the very best for Chipping Norton. I don't want it to get too confrontational, and I think there are large areas where we can find some middle ground."

Several people accused the PCT of having already made up its mind, which the PCT denied. It said it stood by its claim that the town did not need 18 NHS beds, but said if the proposed 12 proved inadequate it would get more. Trust chief executive Barry Thomas also said if the hospital building were sold it would raise about 3m, far more than the figure of 800,000 originally suggested.

Trust chairman Anita Higham finished by saying that all of the comments made would be included in a report to the board at the end of the month. "We as a board have the option to do nothing, and that may well be what we do," she said.


"Local NHS managers will have to think again"

- says David Cameron MP ahead of Sept 1st meeting

"Why do our much-loved community hospitals seem to be permanently under threat of cuts or closure

Now the focus is on Chipping Norton hospital. In my view, the preferred option of the NHS management makes four vital errors.

First, it envisages a cut in beds, even though bed blocking remains a problem and the John Radcliffe management think there are too few beds in Oxfordshire.

Second, it looks forward to a reduction in services, as X ray, for example, will no longer be available. When we have all paid more taxes to the NHS services should be getting better, not worse.

Third, people who use Chipping Norton hospital and value its services (my family included) want assurances that the NHS will maintain a real presence in the town. If a new hospital is really a care home with some leased hospital beds, what guarantee do we have that the NHS - with maternity, minor injuries, and the other services that we value - really is here to stay

Fourth, we need to know more about where any money from selling the existing building will go. What guarantees can we have about the money being spent locally - and about the NHS having a freehold over any new hospital building

These are the questions that I believe the NHS must address. We all hear and understand their pleas that more money needs to be spent helping people to live independently at home for longer. And we all know that the NHS is about services people use, not bricks and mortar. But we also know the unhappy history of the NHS and our much loved local hospitals. That's why these questions need to be answered - and why the local NHS managers will have to think again."


No cuts in our Hospital Services
Tony Gray Labour Party Parliamentary Candidate.

At a time when the Government is investing substantial extra funds in the NHS (total spent on the NHS in England is set to rise from 56bn in 2002-03 to over 90bn in 2007-08) - Chippy deserves its slice of the cake. In their desire to 'Improve the Patient Experience' the Government says that it wants to: "Strengthen accountability to local communities through improved engagement with them." It is essential that local NHS managers meet that demand in keeping a local healthcare centre that over 9,000 residents have also called for. Having lived for most of my life in the Wychwoods I have deeply valued the presence of having a local hospital. I have no time for those who argue that big is always better when it comes to public services - often the reverse is true. Whilst the John Radcliffe Hospital is fast becoming a model twenty-first century Hospital - this must not be at the expense of local facilities.

There is a desperate need to have a modern community Hospital - but not at the expense of essential local facilities. Beneath the understandable anger, local NHS managers must latch onto the enthusiasm of Chipping Norton residents - who demand a truly local NHS service. It is essential that we have a brand new elderly home and a new Healthcentre will mean additional money in future years going into resources rather than maintenance. I strongly urge PCT to keep minor injuries, Xray and maternity in Chipping Norton. No cuts in our Hospital Services.

Rob Evans - our County Councillor is stuck in the States. He has written today (Aug 31st) to the PCT


"I support and have signed the petition that has been organized in the town to preserve the existing level of hospital services. I hope the PCT is able to bring some firm proposals about the continuation of MIU and X Ray in particular in conjunction with the Doctors surgeries and League of Friends and also the Maternity Unit in collaboration with the John Radcliffe. All public authorities must now feel a responsibility to encourage the continuation and further development of services in market towns against the economic and environmental costs of transferring most of them to a limited number of larger conurbations."



Graham Thornton of Chadlington joins the Action Group in the Market Square on Saturday to alert everybody to the PCT's second crucial consultation meeting on September 1st in the Church at 7pm.

The PCT have agreed to receive our petition at the beginning of the meeting and to allow the Action Group Chairman - Chunky Townley - to make an opening address. We are expecting the PCT to come up with some amended proposals but nothing is certain. This is above all an opportunity for everybody to make their views known and it is essential you attend if you possibly can. The church holds 600+ and we hope it will be full. Lots of people are still on holiday - which was all part of the consultation plan. The PCT had hoped to slip this whole thing through while everybody was on the beach. Lets make sure that they still know that they have a fight on their hands and that we are determined to resist cuts in hospital services. Since the first meeting a number of important things have happened ...Our MP. our three District Councillors and our County Councillor have all come out in support of the NO CUTS campaign. Our Town Council have refused to endorse any of the PCT options. The District Council have done the same. The League of Friends questionnaire was completed by 2000 respondents and showed overwhelming support to maintain existing hospital services. The local media have been incredibly supportive and we are really grateful to BBC Oxford, Central TV, Banbury Guardian, Oxford Mail, Cotswold Journal, Witney Gazette and Banbury Cake - who have given terrific coverage to the NO CUTS Campaign. Above all 8,000 people (and still counting) have signed a petition resisting cuts. Please be there on Wednesday to lend your support. You will surely want to be able to tell your grandchildren..."I was there the night the PCT began to change their mind!"


Its a few years ago now but Claire Jarvis (pictured left with Daniel) still remembers it all vividly.

Daniel was 11 months old at the time. He managed to roll across the bathroom floor and get wedged under the heated towel rail - not hot enough to burn an adult, but hot enough to give a baby third degree burns on both legs. My partner was away, so I called a neighbour who helped give first aid and then took us to the MIU - the nurse there had already called out one of the GPs from White House to meet us there. He examined Daniel, made drawings of the burns, faxed them through to the plastics unit at the JR in Oxford and then conferred with the consultant by phone. He then gave the recommended treatment and we were able to go home straight away. What was so fantastic was (a) the care and support of the nurse on duty when both Daniel and I were quite distressed and (b) not having to travel to Banbury or Oxford - which would not only have added to the stress of the event but would also have meant a much longer delay in treatment. There is no doubt in my mind that being cared for by a small team in familiar surroundings helped alleviate my shock and Daniel's pain. Although he still has a significant scar on one leg, he made a very swift recovery and, amazingly, didn't need any pain relief after that first evening.


The quote below is from an outstanding and really thoughtful letter which Dr Jonathan Moore of the West Street Surgery has written to the PCT about their proposals for the Hospital.

I would not underestimate the ability of people in Chipping Norton to raise money and develop services. Speaking personally when I was involved in the foundation of the Lawrence Home Nursing Team it was thought completely impossible to raise 40,000 to start up this service. As you know over the last five years we have expanded and developed this service beyond our wildest expectations. More recently with the closure of the Chipping Norton open air swimming pool a consortium of local people have got together and done an extraordinary job in raising money and maintaining the services. As one resident recently said: "if the town can save an open air swimming pool I am sure there will be a much greater determination to save and preserve at least the current services that we have at Chipping Norton Hospital".



Last weekend the irrepressible David Geddes (of Geddes Carpets in West Street) was doing the cooking at his home in Little Compton. He was juggling various dishes and went to put one on to the bottom tray of the oven. He pulled out the oven tray - probably too quickly. Unknown to him his wife had left a dish of cooking fat there which by now had heated up to a nice scalding temperature. Splat! All over his foot. Agony wasn't in it. David went into orbit. He was howling. The family bought him a bucket of cold water. David got a bit panicky because as a diabetic he knows these kinds of things can be dangerous when your circulation is not all it should be. He needed reassurance (and painkillers) fast! His wife wanted to drive to the Horton but David insisted that Chippy was nearer and better. He hasn't stopped talking about the fantastic treatment he got in Chippy Hospital since. Mrs Lord was on duty and needed to finish her drug round but was then straight on the case. She phoned the GP who prescribed anti-biotics. She dressed his wound and dispensed lashings of TLC. She insisted he came back on Sunday when Mandy gave him the same treatment. To describe David as an enthusiast for the hospital is a fantastic understatement. "We absolutely must not let them cut back on any services at the Hospital. It would be criminal"


2000 people respond to League of Friends questionnaire about Hospital Services

Would PCT plans improve healthcare provision in Chipping Norton and District 90% reject the PCT proposals

Does Chipping Norton Hospital need a Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) and an X-Ray facility 99% say yes.

The PCT proposes a reduction in bed capacity to 12 beds. 80% of respondents want to see the present 18 beds maintained

Should money realised through any sale of the existing Hospital site be reinvested into a new Chipping Norton Hospital. 95% of respondents say yes.

Where should a new hospital be 40% - as close to the existing site as possible. 30% - anywhere in the town or the outskirts of the town

94% want to see maternity services retained

Read a FULL SUMMARY of the findings.


Hospital groups plan to join forces

People fighting to save their hospital from closure will join campaigners across Oxfordshire to swap ideas. A group of more than 20 people gathered at the Bradley Centre, in Bretch Hill, Banbury, to discuss what can be done to keep all wards of the town's Horton Hospital open.

The Horton campaigning group is protesting against plans to move Banbury's mental health services to Oxford and is holding a public meeting in the town hall on September 6. Leading Banbury campaigner George Parrish said: "In the past there was just us, but now as they are starting to try and close other community hospitals, we thought it would be a good idea to talk to other campaign groups and swap ideas. We would like to talk to the Chipping Norton campaign group, for example, who are trying to save the hospital there, to try and see what we can do help each other.

Gerry Alcock, a Chipping Norton town councillor and campaigner, said: "That's a really great idea. "We can learn from each other about the best ways of representing people's views. We would be very happy to share our experiences."


Maureen Shepherd of the Action Committee nabs a more than willing Grahame Garden to add his signature to the Petition


Our resident town cartoonist Frank Dickens (of Bristow fame) was signing
the Petition in the Square so we asked him to do us a campaign cartoon!!
He did this one for us on the spot. Not quite sure about the message but then Frank was leaving for holiday in Spain that afternoon!



What an incredible co-incidence!! Less than 30 miles away Malmesbury is up in arms. Their PCT wants to close their old hospital and develop a new facility
attached to a residential care home
on greenfield land using private finance and pocketing the proceeds of the sale of the old site. They want to withdraw maternity and can't really say what other facilities will be included in the new facility. They seem to have recruited a group of patsies to consult with and are claiming local support. The League of Friends are supporting plans because they are afraid of "losing everything". Read more about it......marvel at the similarities to our situation and ask whether somewhere in the Thames Valley Strategic Health Authority there isn't a "co-ordination" unit whose job is to assist PCT's in closing down community hospitals. Lets twin with Malmesbury and compare notes.

(From "This is Wiltshire"12 August 2004)
PCT proposals a farce say critics
HEALTH trust plans to develop new facilities at Malmesbury Hospital have been slammed as a farce. Residents say the plans are merely a way of helping Kennet and North Wiltshire Primary Care Trust (PCT) get out of debt. The PCT wants to build a new home for the Gable House Surgery, a 60-bed private care home, a number of close care homes and a new outpatients department. But opponents of the scheme say the development which is earmarked for a green field site outside the town's development boundary are doubtful if it can deliver the necessary medical facilities. The scepticism is fuelled by a lack of confirmation from the PCT on what services it would include. A decision to go ahead with the development suffered a setback two weeks ago when North Wiltshire District Council put it back for further talks. The council deferred the planning application amid concerns over the precise make-up of the proposed new facilities. Members of the Malmesbury Hospital Board have been heavily involved with launching the new plans. Board chairman John Bowen whose members include representatives from the PCT, district and county councillors and Gable House GPs said Malmesbury people strongly supported the project. Robin Clark, chairman of the League of Friends for Malmesbury Hospital and project board member, said the development was the better of two evils. Mr Clark said: "Obviously we would prefer to keep the hospital. But we are just trying to make the best of what there is for Malmesbury. I think this development is more about the PCT getting themselves out of debt and taking away the maternity services. I am supporting the planning application to make sure the PCT gives us something." Resident Dawn Halsey said there is no rational reason for the development to encroach on the green field site. Mrs Halsey said: "The vast majority of people in Malmesbury think it is going to be a hospital but it will be a private care home. The public are unaware of what exactly the PCT is doing. I feel the aim of the PCT is to generate funds through privately financing the initiative and get themselves out of debt. We are not against the building of a new hospital in Malmesbury. Everybody needs medical facilities but this will not provide it." Malmesbury Maternity Unit campaigner Sarah Newman, said: "I cannot see why the new development could not include a maternity unit".

Malmesbury Maternity Unit is threatened with closure by Kennet & North Wiltshire Primary Care Trust (PCT) along with the Devizes Maternity Unit despite big campaigns to defend these units in each town. A petition of was presented to the PCT last year. Campaigners have asked for it back as they now wish to present it to Parliament, but the PCT refuses to return it without explanation (probably because they just binned it - showing their real concern for local feeling)


"We need hospitals based in our community"

The Banbury Guardian takes up the story of Jake in this week's edition (our version is below). Great story. The paper has been incredibly supportive of the Chippy Hospital Campaign and we thank them for that very much. Hopefully we will all show our appreciation by buying the paper! Better even than the story is the Editorial on Page 2. Great fighting stuff from the Editor!

The case of nine year old Jake provides the perfect example of why we need hospitals based in our community. He fell ill after triggering a previously undiagnosed nut allergy and needed urgent attention. If he had needed to travel to Banbury his condition could have been fatal - and because of the time factor, a journey to Oxford was out of the the question. Often in cases like Jake's the first few minutes are vital and it is only by having locally-based facilities that we can ensure the necessary level of care is available to patients in this crucial period. The government and health authorities can put in place as many new initiatives as they like - be it the NHS Helpline, reviews of ambulance coverage or innovative community care. The fact is people expect, and have a right to expect, adequate care within reasonable proximity to their houses. Modernisation and streamlining are all very well as long as they are done for the right reasons and result in comparable, if not improved provision.


The Public Meeting on the 1st September is to be held in the Church. The vicar reckons it can hold around 600 seated. In a recent new history of the church Jan Cliffe describes the role of the church in medieval times as a place to congregate....."The central Nave and Aisles created a large square space capable of accommodating a congregation of around 800, but would not have contained any furniture, possibly just wooden benches around the walls. Most people stood or knelt on the floor, which would have been paved with large stone slabs incorporating the gravestones and some brasses of prominent local people". We'll be keeping the seats on September 1st but there will probably be some standing in the aisles. The location of the church is not easy - particularly for older people who won't want to walk and can't park. Brilliantly John Grantham (the Town Fixer) has arranged for the recreation ground to be used that evening for car parking - a virtually unprecedented occurrence! This will make access to the church a doddle. But he stresses that this can only happen if the ground is firm or we shall get into a terrible mess. So keep your fingers crossed for a fine dry evening!


The Witney Gazette of August 11th quotes Heather Barnett of the PCT ...."We are already investigating opportunities to improve our proposals in line with the feedback we have received from the public". What does this mean Will we hear on September 1st



Some points from their response to the Consultation Document. READ THE FULL RESPONSE

The League of Friends have grave concerns about the proposals.....The League strongly believes that the existing level of service provision should be maintained, and that enhanced services would be desirable.....

The League continues to be seriously concerned at the existing level of MIU (Minor Injuries Unit) service at Chipping Norton. We believe that the current opening hours should be preserved at the very least, and that the full service should be reinstated as soon as the staffing/health and safety issues have been resolved. Chipping Norton is remote from other towns and transport links are not sufficient. We understand from local surgeries that the PCT (Primary Care Trust) has not entered into detailed discussions regarding the MIU service being provided by local GPs.

The League believes most strongly that X-Ray should continue to be provided. The issue of rurality is key here, with large numbers of patients having to travel elsewhere to be x-rayed, reliant on poor public transport or the overstretched ambulance service. There is a suggestion that the cost estimates for the re-provision of x-ray on the new site are at best inaccurate.

The proposed reduction in bed numbers is of great concern, particularly with little evidence to support this within the consultation document. We understand that there is a great degree of dissatisfaction amongst key health professionals regarding the current provision of domiciliary care. Therefore any increase in this in order to justify a reduction in beds must be of equal concern. The League would also question the degree to which further recruitment of domiciliary care workers is viable given the current state of the job market................

It is vital that the NHS retains ownership as far as possible so that the identity of a hospital for the local community can be preserved. The League believes that it will be impossible to fund raise in the future for what could essentially be viewed as a private facility and therefore the PCT needs to be clear that the additional support that has been available through the League might well not be available in the future.

The League strongly believes that the PCT needs to make publicly available the information upon which it has based its valuation of the existing site. The PCT will be aware that there is a strong sense that the suggestion of 800,000 is grossly inaccurate. READ THE FULL RESPONSE



Having listened to the "management" experts arguing figures over the last few weeks about the viability of an x-ray service in Chippy, it was really helpful to hear the view from the front line when me and my wheezy chest dragged ourselves into the Hospital x-ray department last Friday morning. In between the x-ray shots there was some pretty serious chatting between me and "Ms x-ray" (we agreed to keep this anonymous) ............The demand is high. The department is really busy. Its only open three mornings a week and you generally find that you have to wait three or four days for an appointment. The department could clearly handle more work with longer hours but nobody seems to have considered it. More than this there seems to be lots of potential. There are very few referrals at the moment from Hooky, Charlbury or the Wychwoods - although the few patients who do come seem to much prefer the informality and the friendliness of Chippy Hospital compared with the Horton and the Radcliffe. So why don't the doctors use Chippy Well here's the catch. An x-ray has to go to Banbury and have a report written on it by a radiologist before it is then sent back to the GP. Sending the film and stuff through to Banbury takes several days and there is the suspicion that Chippy reports are not top of the radiologists pile for attention. Which means that the GP is looking at a much slower service overall from Chippy than from the Horton - so he tends to choose the Horton even though the patient may well have preferred to have gone to Chippy. Is this another case of killing a service by stealth....you make something unattractive so people don't use it....and then claim its not being used so it needs to be closed down! But there's an answer to this. Its obvious that the present equipment needs updating. (What follows is an unofficial estimate - but its been discussed with suppliers) You could completely replace the present equipment for just 50k and with an additional 100k you could get a state of the art full-on digital capability. Thats a grand total of 150,000 - way short of the 250,000 quoted at the Public meeting for replacement. And what Digital does is to transform your working methods and speed. Everything can be sent down the line....goodbye to hard copies. The villages will be queuing up to use the Chippy x-ray facility - once this technology is in place. Chippy would become a viable outpost for specialists at the Horton. Conference calls could be discussing real-time x-rays. GPs could get instantaneous input from consultants in Banbury. The 20 mile painful drive would be avoided as everyone agreed it was only a sprain after all! There's a highly committed radiographer in Chippy who has got a lot of this worked out and is really excited about the possibilities. She sees a much better future as close and attainable. She believes there is a role for community hospitals and she much prefers working in them! Isn't it time the NHS bosses spared some time to talk to her and stopped threatening closure of our x-ray department (Oh and by the way she doesn't like her equipment being described as decrepit. It still does its job. Its under a maintenance contract and there's no point replacing it unless we get something seriously better!)



Edna Sale.....We must keep the Hospital and all the services. Its brilliant. I've used it so often. Its so nice. I love it

Bill Price....Its so handy. We can't keep trekking into Banbury. They're brilliant in
Chippy Hospital.
Debbie Kemp....When I burned my wrist they were really lovely. Banbury A&E is like taking a ticket at the deli counter.
Sarah and Neil Witham....We were both born in Chippy Hospital and its always been good knowing its there. Close by if you need it. Martin Clark...They've always looked after people injured at work so well. When I was at Parker Knoll there were lots of men taken down there with cuts, knocks and needles through fingers.




JAKE who lives up London Road is a pretty cool dude. Ruud van Nistelroy is his favourite footballer and his best mate is Luke who lives down at Cross Leys. Jake tells you modestly that he is totally expert at all the Playstation2 games. Jake is a really super kid. But a few months ago he went through a major trauma and his Mum attributes his survival entirely to the fact that Chippy Hospital was close by and the nurses there handled a crisis with enormous skill and coolness.

Nobody knew Jake was allergic to Brazil nuts. He had eaten every other kind of nut and loved them. That evening around 7.30pm he ate a Chocolate Brazil (and he only did that because it was the only chocolate covered sweet left in the bag - and Jake really likes chocolate). His Mum Alison recalls what happened next with real horror....his face puffed up, Jake complained that his throat had gone completely dry. he was choking, his face changed colour and Alison says "his lips swelled up. He looked just like Mick Jagger". (Who's Mick Jagger asks Jake from the other side of a generation divide). Jake was in deep anaphylactic shock. His mother had no doubts. She wasn't going to hang around for an ambulance or grapple with the GP night callout system. There just didn't seem to be that kind of time. In five minutes Jake was down at the hospital. They had diagnosed the problem and given him adrenalin which stabilised the situation until an ambulance took him off to the Horton. Alison has no doubt that without Chippy Hospital, Jake wouldn't be around today. Its not surprising that she is such a huge supporter of the NO CUTS campaign.



The Action Group Chairman "Chunky" Townley and Committee Member Clive Hill had just five minutes to tell the District Council why their backing is so important to the Chippy "NO CUTS" campaign. Chunky and Clive were both in great form. Chunky explained why the group has been formed. To try and get some simplicity into an increasingly complex debate about options - all of which have so many ifs and buts. It is completely unacceptable that with all the promises being made about increased expenditure in Health we should have to contemplate a reduction in services. Clive hammered on the point that ALL the options involved a reduction in services. Lets get that sorted first before getting embroiled in how and where we deliver the services. It wasn't helpful to be trying to choose the nearest acceptable option. He urged the District Council to join with the Town Council, the town's three District Councillors, the County Councillor and the MP in rejecting all the options.

Then the floodgates opened. Every councillor that spoke was strongly in favour of the Action Group line. Our own town trio batted as a team and emphasised the role of the hospital as an essential part of the community .....Councillor Hannis recalled his many years involvement in fund raising for the Hospital. This proposal was disgusting. Who are these faceless people who come up with these ideas....Councillor Howes said the PCT had produced a committee document and we all know about those..... and Councillor Coles talked about the problems of home care and carers. Who would actually do the caring in the home in future. We needed more hospital beds NOT fewer .....Councillor Biles (Pictured left in the tea break with Clive and Chunky) is the health expert on the Council. She emphasised that all the options contained too many unknowns. So many things had not yet been decided. Staffing was unclear - who employs who. The model for Minor Injuries still had to be worked through. Her committee had been clear that cuts could not be tolerated. This proposal is very light on the meat! ..... Councillor Millard wished the Action Group well. He reminded everybody that Chippy Hospital covered a very wide area. All the councillors were involved. Is this Consult and listen or Consult and do what we were going to do anyway. Lets give them a run for their money..... Councillor Walker who lives just a few miles out of Chippy said.......The hospital is absolutely invaluable....this plan is part of a government conspiracy to deny services to rural areas.....the action group have got it exactly right...The PCT need to be told in no uncertain terms to get back to the drawing board with NO CUTS as the starting point.....Councillor Hunt said that the Action Group had hit the nail on the head. There were far too many conflicting threads. They had to be split apart...... Councillor Harvey movingly said that one day everyone of us would need an ambulance and a hospital. The way things are going you might turn round and there won't be one there. Its terrifying.....Councillor Handley reminded everyone of the winter months and the remoteness of Chippy. You need services on the spot. We simply have to fight this tooth and nail.......Perhaps the strongest support of the afternoon came from Cabinet Member Louise Chapman. She was in fierce form. I reckon we should give her the Freedom of Chippy for her efforts.

A resolution was proposed by Mary Neale ....

West Oxfordshire District Council strongly opposes any reduction in services currently provided at Chipping Norton hospital and calls upon the Cherwell Vale PCT to work with all partners to maintain all the existing service provision and furthermore improve services to meet the needs of Chipping Norton and the locality in the future, using the most appropriate locations in the town to safeguard these services.

It was approved unanimously. This was an absolutely fantastic result. This website has had critical things to say about the WODC in the past. Not today. They pooled their own experiences, went to great efforts to establish what their constituents felt, came out in support of the town and are clearly going to help in any way they can. Just what a District Council should be doing. Well done to our District Councillors. And to the Chairman Barry Norton who was in masterly form this afternoon - fair but with his heart showing pretty clearly. Well done Chunky and Clive. Well done all round. Now the least everyone else can do is to join the fight by getting out and signing the Petition.


Our hands-on and strictly non-political Chairman Chunky Townley fixing a banner to Stones balcony as a backdrop for an interview he did (Tuesday) with Central TV at 2pm. Apparently it was a great interview. Chunky was lined up with John Grantham and Clive Hill below the banner. The interviewer introduced them as all born in Chippy Hospital, children born in the Hospital, grandchildren born in the Hospital. Chunky did a call to arms, It was all spliced together with some nice shots of the town. Later in the afternoon Chunky settled into his armchair to watch his TV debut - just as the skies opened and the Over Norton transmitter went off air. Nobody in Chippy saw the news item..........but word from Ledwell and Charlbury is that it all looked very good.



Eve Coles
District Councillor

It is essential for us all to send a clear message to the Local Health Authority that none of their options for the hospital will do. We must resist any cuts in our hospital services

Elizabeth Allen
District Council Candidate

These proposals mean that for someone in the villages without a car, an x-ray will become a whole day's expedition


will fight to maintain current levels of healthcareprovided by the Hospital. We do not like any of the options proposed.

Steven Weston
Vicar of
St Mary's

We must mobilise the whole town on the basis of NO CUTS to hospital


John Hannis
District Councillor

I have supported Chippy Hospital all my life and been proud of how it has served the town. For the first time in my long experience of it we are talking about services getting worse. This is ridiculous. We expect things to get better!

Mike Howes District Councillor

My family must be typical of most in the town. Over the 33 years we have lived here, we have used all the marvellous services that our hospital provides. The town is expanding and it is essential that we keepALL the services. I urge the PCT toreconsider their options.


What matters most is that we have a hospital in Chipping Norton with the full range of services and a secure future. That is what people want and that is what the PCT should aim for. More money is going into the NHS - and no one will understand if they see fewer services coming out of it.

Rob Evans
County Councillor

It is time to develop our market towns as major centres of services rather than outposts of far flung health empires. The current 'No Cuts' petition in the town has to succeed and I understand the PCT will return with more positive proposals to the further public meeting on September 1st.'


All our District Councillors and our MP in agreement...we must be in with a chance!!
David Cameron signing up (left) with John Hannis, Mike Howes and Eve Coles

Four members of the Action Group on duty were Terry Howes, Clive Hill, John Grantham and (behind) Gerry Alcock. Present in spirit were the other four members - the Vicar, the Chairman Chunky Townley, Anne Robinson and Maureen Shepherd. (on the right) Terry Howes helps Bob Cairns of The Leys with the petition. Bob was one of the first to sign. The heart-rending story he told at the Public Meeting about the way local health and social services had let him and his family down, is still vividly fresh in many peoples minds.

John Grantham with his daughter Joanne and grandsons Luke and Dan - three generations and everyone of them born in Chippy Hospital. (right) Inspector Nick Deacon is a convert to the cause and sets off on patrol!

With us through the afternoon was the smashing Katy Johnstone from Radio Oxford who was being very fair-minded and did some cracking interviews and was really fun to have around, while petition-signing got brisker in the sunshine.


Action Group Chairman "Chunky" Townley writes

It is essential that the local Health Authority hears the town's opinion about the proposed hospital options LOUD AND CLEAR None of their options will do. We cannot accept cuts in current services. The Town Council have clarified their position, we hope that all our other elected representatives will now do the same. The CHIPPY HOSPITAL ACTION GROUP was launched today. Our battle cry during August will be:


The objectives of our ACTION GROUP are to attract the maximum publicity we can for the NO CUTS campaign, to provide more background information about the PCT's proposals, to organise a petition among residents of Chipping Norton and all the surrounding villages, to encourage every single local resident to submit a consultation response form to the PCT and finally and most importantly to ensure a record turnout at the Public Meeting on September 1st. The PCT want a consultation. We must make sure they get one.

The Hospital Action Group plan to distribute information sheets, posters, and other publicity material so we need a few quid from some people to get things moving.

In trying to collect thousands of signatures for a petition during August - with so many people on holiday - the Action Group may be attempting the impossible! Unfortunately the timing is not our choice and the deadline is the Public Meeting on September 1st. The wording of the Petition is: "The local Health Authority are threatening to cut the number of hospital beds and withdraw x-ray facilities and the minor injuries unit from Chipping Norton in their future plans. We, the undersigned, insist that all current hospital services in Chipping Norton should be retained". We are going to need serious help collecting signatures. Would you be prepared to cover your street Or spend a couple of hours in the Market Square Or organise your village.If you can help at all within the town please ring John Grantham on If you can help in the villages around please ring Clive Hill on And please make it soon.

But most of all we need your commitment to the cause. Please contact one of the Action Group. They are all people you know! From left to right: Chunky Townley (Chairman) Clive Hill, Anne Robinson, John Grantham, Steven Weston, Maureen Shepherd, Terry Howes, Gerry Alcock.

Please take a look at the special collection of old photographs which the Museum have put together in their display window opposite the Town Hall steps. Terrific timing and very inspirational. The poster announcing the fundraising Public Meeting in 1919 is a classic. Perhaps we should get hundreds of these printed off and posted around the town!

After the 400+ attendance at the July 5th Public Meeting the problem now is where can the follow-up meeting on September 1st be held. There will certainly be many more than 400 wanting to get into that. Among the suggestions so far are - in the square (and to hell with the weather), in the Church (but would the vicar agree) in a marquee on the Rec.
Suggestions in the
NEWSFLASH! Problem solved! The church is booked. The vicar says it holds around 600 sitting. Standing in the aisles will increase that. But the PCT will still probably need an overflow meeting somewhere.



JULY 21st A Great letter from Graham Thornton of Chadlington which ends........My conclusion after the consultation meetings is that Chipping Norton and District will end up with a 50-bed glorified care home with far fewer facilities than at present. This must not be allowed to happen. People know that the hospital and Castle View sites, as well as the sites of the Ambulance station and the now-closed Chestnuts nurses home are worth millions to a developer. One of the excuses, if the existing Castle View was brought up to standard is that residents would have to be moved out while the work was done, but the same thing will happen at Spencer Court Woodstock, because it is said that no new site can be found. The next Public consultation is on September 1st. As a previous correspondent told your readers...lets rise in revolt....Let us show that this town and district originally provided this brilliant hospital and are not prepared to see it vanish into the mismanaged finances of the Oxfordshire County Council and the National Health Service.


Im fully behind the Chipping Norton campaign to save the community hospital, which is a vital local service. It seems the powers that be are determined to suck services to the centre of the universe, e.g. Oxford, to the detriment of Chipping Norton and Banbury.West Oxfordshire has an ageing population and older generations will increasingly need the minor injuries unit and x-ray.It is not fair to make patients travel 20 miles to Oxford when they are in distress when they could have treatment virtually on their doorstep. Indeed, without these elements it is not a hospital at all in my opinion and should not be labelled as such. The plan also includes the loss of six beds, which begs the question what happens when the remaining beds are full It means even more patients will be transported to another hospital or left in an aisle waiting for treatment. It seems rural communities are being stripped of services left, right and centre for example of hospitals, transport, shops. All these services are disintegrating in the face of market forces and the people are being forgotten. I am sure Banbury and North Oxfordshire and West Oxfordshire are growing at a faster rate than Oxford and perhaps the services should reflect that.
Les Robinson, Chipping Norton

Some comments from local GPs
The Hospital was endowed by its community and has had substantial investment from the town over the years. All proceeds from the sale of the current building should therefore be retained in the town and guarantees be given that assets cannot be stripped - either now or in the future. Any third party involved in admininistering a new hospital (eg St John) should also be bound by covenant to observe the same principles.
One of our major concerns is the central place taken by the Intermediate Care Services. You mention that a 12% increase in this service would be taken to improve provision. Unfortunately our experience with these services is that they are often not available in Chipping Norton probably because we are too far out for carers to get to Chippy and back again, perhaps three times a day for one patient. My own personal experience has been that I have never managed to access these services for a patient - despite many phone calls.
We are extremely disappointed to see that you propose closing the x-ray facilities. As you know Chippy has a large elderly population and many people do not have ready access to transport to Banbury or Oxford. If we feel a patient has pneumonia or a broken hip we are able to x-ray them in Chippy without having to transfer them by expensive ambulance transport to Casualty in Banbury where they have to join the queue of other patients who need to be seen.

Points from this website Forum
I cant see how any mother or mother to be in chipping norton can possibly want to change or move our cottage hospital. when i was pregnant with my first child the midwives antenatal care and support was spectacular and invaluable to me and my husband. I could get all soppy about how personal it is unlike the big hospitals or clinics but i dont want to sound like a sap!. My nan who is 92 became very ill last year , we thought we were going to loose her, basicaly because she was giving up. But the nurses at c/n hospital got her back to her old self in no time.
I dont think it could be any where near the same if it is moved and integrated with other facilities. It would change everyting for the people of chipping norton and the surrounding villages. I dont realy get all this politics stuff, What can we do
Graham Pike: I am a nurse at the JR in Oxford, but I live in Chippy. Unfortunately I was unable to attend the meeting on Monday, but I have registered my concerns at the PCT's proposal on their website. Put simply, fewer beds at Chipping Norton means longer waits at the JR and Horton. If we can't move patients to community hospitals when they no longer need acute care (and this is in the patient's interest, since community hospitals are better set up for rehabilitation whereas the acute hospitals are set up for treating very sick people), then they will wait longer in acute medical and surgical beds. This is clearly non-ideal, both for that patient (who loses out on the specialist therapy available in community hospitals) and for the patients who as a consequence face longer waits in the Emergency Department because there are no beds available on the wards. The PCT hopes to solve this problem by providing extra home care. Given the shortage of people who provide such care (due largely, I'm sure, to the low pay for such jobs), I fail to see how they will achieve this.
District Councillor Hilary Biles :Had the PCT confirmed that Xray, MIU, maternity, and out- patient services were to be in option 1, then perhaps (the WODC Economic & Social Overview & Scrutiny Committee) would have voted for that. However, they were not. It appeared only the beds are a certainty and the falls clinic. This naturally is very worrying. The Councillors were also concerned at the prospect of the building not belonging to the NHS at the end of the contract. We had to focus on the consultation document, not the maybes.
Deputy Mayor Gina Burrows: Rubbishing everyone who belongs to or works for an official body will inevitably be counter-productive. Do people think that all those who have worked through long hours (both officers, elected members and interested residents) have done so for their own glorification or profit They've worked hard to try and achieve a workable solution to a difficult set of problems.

Anita Higham (PCT Chairman) said at the public meeting: "The x-ray department is currently open three mornings a week and is very underused. If it was open more often and looked after more patients then perhaps we would think differently"
But a nurse in the x-ray department said she often sees up to 14 patients during a four hour session and the facilities were far from decrepit. I work three mornings a week and most of the time I work at least an hour overtime because I have such a full load of patients. If the x-ray department closes the orthopaedic clinic will have to be discontinued as well"

Nobody ever said that living in Chippy was easy. We are on the edge of everyone's area, bottom of everyone's list of priorities and everybody's favourite cost saving! The last year has seen us fighting to save our Pool, our ambulance station, our biggest employer, our old folks home and now the big one - our much-loved Community Hospital. Time to mount the barricades!

The local PCT (Cherwell Vale) have decided that the 90-year old Chippy hospital is simply getting too long in the tooth as a viable base for providing community healthcare. At present the hospital has 18 intermediate care beds, x-ray facilities. a minor injuries unit, maternity beds, a falls unit and facilities for consultants to see patients. The PCT is under terrific financial pressure generally and is desperately short of funds. Part of its problem is that the John Radcliffe has been running a big deficit for years - for reasons which are being argued fiercely about (financial mismanagement says the government-underfunding says the opposition). The PCTs are being required this year to bail out the JR by finding cost savings (READ MORE ABOUT THIS BELOW). So money is tight!!

The whole thing has been brought to a head by the fact that the next-door Castleview Residential Care Home (owned by Oxfordshire County Council) has to be rebuilt over the next couple of years because it simply doesn't meet standards any more.....so the County and the NHS have come up with a scheme which rebuilds the hospital and the care home together on a new site.

Its an incredibly ingenious scheme - no doubt about that. The development and management of Care Homes in Oxfordshire has been contracted out to the Oxford Care Partnership - which is a private joint venture company between Pilgrim Housing Trust and the Order of St John. (Pilgrim do the building, St John do the caring). This company can raise private finance using its long-term supply contracts with the county and the NHS as security. So the new building gets built with no capital cost to the County or the NHS on land already owned by the county. Just what the doctor ordered for the two cash-strapped organisations. But the good news doesn't end there....straight into the bank go the proceeds from the sale of the two town centre sites. (Conservatively estimated by local experts at around 2m for each site). And here you must remember that the Hospital was set up with private subscriptions as a War Memorial Hospital after the First World War - and its been lovingly maintained and supported by the town ever since.

The problem is that to make all the sums work (we are asked to believe because we are not allowed to see any figures) there have to be service cuts. No X-ray, No minor injuries, only 12 beds, no guarantees about Maternity.

It is these cuts which have become the sticking point. There doesn't seem too much point arguing about where this "Shadow" of the former hospital is to be sited or the complexities of its financing. All that's secondary. The key point is that there must be NO CUTS TO SERVICES.

People in this town know what the real estate is worth and simply don't believe that its not perfectly possible to maintain current levels of healthcare service in a new building using all the proceeds from selling the hospital site

The huge Public Meeting on July 5th really got the Hospital debate going. (READ ABOUT THE MEETING) It was clear to everyone that the town was simply not going to roll over and go along with the OCC/PCT Joint proposal. The main talking points revolve around questions like...How can you sell a War Memorial and How can less beds and fewer services possibly be described as Improved Healthcare

On 1st July the important ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL OVERVIEW & SCRUTINY COMMITTEE of West Oxfordshire District Council met to consider the Proposals for Chippy Hospital. Committee Members felt strongly that the existing Chipping Norton Hospital provided a very good service and that Option 2 of the proposals, to work to improve services in the existing buildings, was the only option the Committee felt able to recommend. Option 1 did not offer sufficient guarantees.

On the 19th July our own Town Council discussed the consultation document. They did not feel able to support any of the options. They thought that Option 1A came closest to anything they could think of accepting but this was still unsatisfactory because of the cuts proposed and the lack of guarantees. The Town Council said..."We will fight to maintain current levels of healthcareprovided by the Hospital. We do not like any of the options proposed. We simply cannot accept any reduction in healthcare provision".

David Cameron weighs into the debate.

There was a special debate on July 13th in Parliament about the NHS in the Thames Valley. David Cameron, Conservative MP for Witney, set out the problems at the heart of the NHS in Oxfordshire:

- low per capita funding compared to the rest of the country;
- continuing financial difficulties at the John Radcliffe Hospital, with a deficit approaching 45 million this year; and
- high costs of living in Oxfordshire, which makes it more difficult to recruit and retain staff.

New official figures from the Thames Valley Strategic Health Authority show that the NHS in Oxfordshire must find 54.1 million of savings to break even by March 2005, as required by Government rules. 35 to come from the Oxford Radcliffe and 2m from our local provider Cherwell Vale PCT

David explained that while the Government talked about spending more money, many of his constituents were experiencing reductions in service. These have included:

- plans to reduce the number of beds in community hospitals;
- attempts to close the Witney Hospital Minor Injuries Unit; in the evening;

- shortage of NHS dentists;

- changes to the out of hours service; and

- plans for the future of the Chipping Norton hospital with fewer beds, no x-ray or minor injuries unit.

"It is a mystery to my constituents how so much money has been spent on the NHS and yet the results are not there. With community hospitals under pressure, NHS dentists in short supply and job cuts in store at the John Radcliffe Hospital people are seeing some services getting worse, not better. Of course, some things are getting better and the work that doctors, nurses and other NHS workers do is magnificent. But the system seems to be letting them down. I hope that the Minister will understand the particular needs of rural areas. Our community hospitals are a vital service, not an add-on. When you live in the country, how far you are from services is vitally important. Distance can mean death."

On the very interesting front page of David Cameron's latest Westminster Report David states ' The future of Chipping Norton Hospital is now being debated. The prospects look good and I will be pressing for the full range of services to be maintained'.


Step one: read the PCT consultation document
The PCT consultation document explains the options for change and how the consultation works. It is available electronically or hard copies can be requested by telephoning Juliet Long, Patient Advice and Liaison Service Officer, on .
Read the full consultation document (pdf file; size 202.6 KB).

Step two: tell the PCT what you think
There are a number of ways in which you can make your views known:
Fill in an online form
Email to
Write to FREEPOST Chipping Norton Consultation, Cherwell Vale PCT, Oxford Road, Banbury, OX16 9GE.

The PCT have planned two public meetings where the PCT present and explain the proposals - an opportunity for questions and discussions. The first has already happened on 5th July. The second is scheduled for 1st September 7pm at Chipping Norton Town Hall


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