The Secretary of State for Health & Social Care, the Rt Hon. Jeremy Hunt MP, has today written to the Chair of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel to ask for its initial advice on the permanent closure of consultant-led maternity services (obstetrics) at the Horton General Hospital.
The IRP, an advisory non-departmental public body, is the independent expert on NHS service change, and can review proposals that are being contested. The Health Secretary, as requested by the Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee, has referred the permanent downgrading of obstetrics to the IRP and asked for their advice to be provided by Friday 9th February.
You can read a copy of Health Secretary's letter to the IRP here, and I am pleased that the ongoing situation at the Horton will be reviewed. I await the advice of the IRP on whether they would recommend a formal referral. If you are interested in learning more about how the IRP referral process works, this explanation should help.