PATIENTS have had a “very good settlement” from NHS bosses over Banbury’s Horton General Hospital, the town’s MP Sir Tony Baldry has said.

And the Conservative criticised the “irresponsible” castigation of the trust’s management of the hospital, after concerns about the loss of emergency abdominal surgery there.

Keep the Horton General campaign group chairman Keith Strangwood wrote to Sir Tony to say the NHS saw it as “an annoying little outpost in the north”.

But the MP said: “The facts simply do not support this assertion.

“Five years ago, the Horton had 39 full-time equivalent consultant doctors. Today, it has 46 full-time equivalent consultant doctors – an increase of 15 per cent.”

The information was supplied by Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust on request, he said.

He added: “There are more consultants at the Horton today than at any time since the establishment of the NHS in 1948.

“By any objective standard, we collectively achieved a very good settlement for the Horton and those whom the Horton Hospital serves.”

Emergency abdominal surgery was suspended in January last year because of the level of doctor cover, and the move was made permanent two months ago.

Cardiac rehabilitation services for those in the latter stages of recovery were cut that month and the Fiennes OAP mental health ward could close.

Yet more types of ear, nose and throat procedures began this January, a rapid access paediatric clinic opened last month and work has begun on a dedicated children’s outpatient centre.

The MP said: “I really don’t think it’s an adequate point that they (the group) castigate the trust on this, and disregard all of the new surgeries. It’s irresponsible.”

Mr Strangwood had urged Sir Tony look into why no Banbury councillors sit on a committee that has the power to block changes to NHS services.

The Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview and Scru-tiny Committee declined to intervene in the abdominal surgery move in February.

Sir Tony said: “It is very difficult to get an exact balance from every town in the county.

“The Horton has had the full support from the committee.”

But Mr Strangwood told the Oxford Mail: “The needs of people in Banbury are not being met. We have not been given the consultation that we should have had. We have just been fobbed off.

“Their attitude is ‘I don’t live in Banbury, so I don’t care about Banbury’.

“As far as I’m concerned Mr Baldry is elected to represent the people of Banbury, he wasn’t elected to speak up for the Trust.

“His loyalty should be with his electorate, not them.”