NHS leaders' first attempts to persuade the public to accept major cuts to hospital and health services were drowned out by boos tonight.

A crowd of hundreds in Banbury jeered and hissed as a panel of six health bosses presented their proposals in public for the first time.

Under the changes being proposed, hundreds of hospital beds could be cut, acute services moved from more rural areas into Oxford and, most importantly for many in Banbury, the maternity services in the town permanently downgraded.

One woman stood and told the panel how, after her daughter had given birth by the side of the road near Banbury, she was taken to the Horton General Hospital in Banbury only to wait for an ambulance from Gloucestershire to take her to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

She concluded by demanding: "You tell me what's good about the John Radcliffe?" to huge applause from the crowd.

Oxford Mail:

Banbury MP Victoria Prentis accused the panel of comparing apples with oranges after they tried to justify replacing acute services in Banbury with more appointment spaces, which, she said, were not even budgetted for.

The meeting at St Mary's Church was Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group's first public presentation of its plans to shake up NHS services across the county.

Chief executive David Smith pleaded for public sympathy by saying: "The money we receive from the government is not keeping pace with the level of the demand we are seeing from the public."

Oxford Mail:

The crowd were ramped up before the meeting at a picket outside the church by the Keep the Horton General campaign.

Protestors, including Victoria Prentis MP, chanted slogans and urged drivers to beep as they went past.

Campaign leader Keith Strangwood urged those going inside to 'make their views known as loud as possible', but not to fill in questionnaires on the proposed changes at the 'sham' consultation session tonight.

His group is planning to run its own series of public sessions where it has promised to tell people the truth about the transformation plans.

Oxford Mail:

Among those who joined the protest was Kate Fitton, who brought along her three grandchildren Yazmyne, 10, Xanthe, 10, and Ellis, eight, all of whom have been treated at the Horton.

Mrs Fitton, who lives in Banbury, said the Horton had saved her son's life after he was involved in a car crash and saved her husband's life when he had a seizure in 2006.

She said: "If they had had to take him to the John Radcliffe he'd be dead."

Oxford Mail:

Some services at the Horton have already been closed in recent years, but under the proposed changes the hospital's maternity unit could be permanently downgraded, meaning if problems emerge during birth, mothers could have to be rushed to Oxford.

The panel admitted that has happened 11 times since October out of 59 births at the Horton.

The proposed changes could also see 200 hospital beds removed for good in Oxfordshire and the removal of the special care baby unit and maternity services from Chipping Norton.

The proposals form part of 'phase one' of Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group's 'Big Health and Care Consultation'.

This forms part of the wider 'sustainability and trasformation plan' for Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West ordered by NHS England to meet a predicted funding shortfall of £587m by 2020.

Victoria Prentis said she was 'extremely disappointed' the consultation had been split into two phases and was 'genuinely worried' people would not understand its content.

More consultation drop-in events are planned on the following dates:

Thursday 2 February: 2pm – 4pm in Chipping Norton
Tuesday 7 February: 3pm – 5pm in Grove
Thursday 9 February: 7pm – 9pm in Oxford
Monday 13 February: 10am – 12pm in Didcot
Thursday 16 February: 6pm – 8pm in Witney
Tuesday 21 February: 3pm – 5pm in Bicester
Monday 27 February: 10.30am – 12.30pm in Brackley
Thursday 2 March: 8pm – 10pm in Henley
Monday 6 March: 8pm – 10pm in Wallingford
Thursday 16 March: 7pm – 9pm in Banbury
Thursday 23 March: 6.30pm – 8.30pm in Abingdon

People can find out more about sessions near them and also respond to the consultation online at www.oxfordshireccg.nhs.uk