“In October, I spoke in Parliament alongside my fellow Oxfordshire MPs about the future of healthcare in the county. Wantage Hospital is currently in a state of limbo – Oxford Health announced in April 2016 that they would be closing the hospital due to concerns over legionella in the old pipe system. This decision is subject to a consultation by Oxfordshire CCG – a consultation which was previously promised in October 2016. Phase one of the consultation did not take place until January 2017, three months after the full consultation was promised. As Wantage is a community hospital it is not covered by this phase. Phase 2 of the consultation has yet to take place, and no date has been announced for when it will begin. This leaves the hospital effectively closed with no end in sight.
After an online petition was signed by almost 4,000 people it was agreed to keep the hospital’s physiotherapy and maternity services open. However, Oxfordshire CCG re-tendered the hospital’s physiotherapy services and the contract passed to HealthShare. The company has since had to close all physiotherapy services provided in Wantage, leaving the hospital with just limited maternity care. Whilst we all recognise the pressures on local health authorities, it is clear that the entire consultation process by Oxfordshire CCG has been completely unacceptable. We must have an open and transparent conversation about the services needed in our towns and communities and this should include full public and stakeholder engagement at every stage.
Also in October, the Communities Secretary Sajid Javid announced £2.5 million allocation funding for 9 garden towns across England. After a successful bid, I am delighted an additional £295,000 of capacity funding has been allocated to support the delivery of Didcot Garden Town in 2017/18.This additional funding is specifically for ongoing work on place-making, community engagement and the development of an arts and culture strategy. The Government recognises the important contribution the project will have on its central ambition of delivering more homes and I am pleased by the support for Didcot’s ambitious, community-led plans for growth.
It is also worth noting that Public Health England and NHS England have now launched their Stay Well This Winter campaign, which helps the most vulnerable people prepare for winter and avoid having to visit hospital due to common winter illnesses. If you’re in one of the groups who are particularly susceptible – such as pensioners and pregnant women – or the parent of a young child, go and speak to your GP or pharmacist as soon as possible to give yourself the best chance of avoiding flu this year. More people than ever before are eligible for that free vaccination this year, including more young children and everyone who works in care homes. To check if you or your loved ones are eligible, and for other tips on staying well this winter, head to: www.nhs.uk/staywell
Please feel free to contact me if you have any pressing issues that you would like help with. Either myself or one of my team will get back to you as soon as possible and do what we can to assist. You can contact me on any matter at the House of Commons, SW1A 0AA, email@example.com or 01235 768 888. Email is the quickest and most reliable way to get in touch, as I keep a very close eye on my emails and can reply very quickly. Details of my activities in Parliament can be read on my website, https://www.vaizey.com. I also send out occasional general interest emails about developments in the Wantage and Didcot Constituency. If you would like to be added to the distribution list, please complete the online form at https://bit.ly/EdVaizeyMP.”