SENIOR health figures are urging residents and local authorities to voice their opinions on the second wave of health changes on the horizon.

Following the controversial consultation on Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group's (CCG) phase one of the Oxfordshire Transformation Plan, members of Healthwatch Oxfordshire say residents need to be ready to question the second phase of plans.

During the health watchdog's board meeting on Tuesday night outgoing chairman Eddie Duller said: "At a time when we have had a third of our funding stopped by the county council we have been working very hard to try and translate all these big, complicated terms into plain English so that residents actually understand what these plans mean.

"It is absolutely vital that when this second phase of plans comes along for residents and service users to voice their opinion."

Mr Duller's successor Professor George Smith said he is determined to ensure that Oxfordshire County Council is more involved in the decision making process.

He said: "We know that phase two of the plans will be looking at primary care and community hospitals.

"The county council has not engaged fully in the process and when the second phase comes around it needs to be more than just consultees.

"I would urge the authority to come on board as a full partner in the second phase so it can really help shape the future of healthcare in the county."

The CCG has introduced the two phases of plans as a way of streamlining services to address a growing financial shortfall and the needs of an ageing population.

It aims to address the needs of an ageing population and staffing issues and avoid a £134m black hole in the budget by 2020/21.

Professor Smith added: "I think there are a lot of different options in terms of models of care that need to be thought about.

"For example with home care, we need teams of integrated care workers with professional registered nurses.

"That will mean more challenging and difficult cases can be dealt with in the home at a higher level, rather than the individual having to be rushed into hospital.

"And rather than think about closing community hospitals, we need to be looking at them as GP hubs that could provide services for big areas across the county."

A final decision on the first phase of the Oxfordshire arm of the STP, which includes closing 200 acute hospital beds and centralising stroke and critical care, will be made by the CCG on August 10.

A consultation will soon follow this decision, where the second phase of plans will be revealed in their entirety.