HEALTH bosses have suspended a consultation into the future of 14 intermediate care beds at Chipping Norton Community Hospital.

The future of the unit was put in jeopardy when the county council said they could either let the Orders of St John Care Trust (OSJCT) take over the unit or lose it completely. The beds are currently run by Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust.

Prime Minister David Cameron called executives of Oxford Health NHS Found-ation Trust, Healthwatch Oxfordshire, OSJCT and the county council together to broker a deal to save the unit.

Following last Friday’s meeting the county council announced yesterday that a consultation had been halted to investigate how care could be provided by the NHS in the short term.

The county council’s director of adult services, John Jackson, said: “Commiss-ioners and providers will meet this week to discuss how we can continue the current arrangements in the short term.”

The consultation was launched earlier this month after Mr Jackson told the county council’s health and scrutiny overview committee that the unit could close if its 14 beds were not taken over by OSJCT. The old war memorial hospital in the town was closed 10 years ago and campaigners fought hard to ensure a new hospital was built.

The new hospital is owned by the NHS and the county council. While the NHS operates the maternity unit, the care home facility next door is operated by OSJCT.

NHS staff were seconded to OSJCT to run the intermediate care ward for three years, which ended in 2014. Then Oxford Health took over control of the nurses.