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Column 1st July 2020

Scrutinising health services in Oxfordshire

Last Thursday was the first Oxfordshire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) since lockdown and was a 6 hour long video meeting.

The meeting covered all the health care aspects of the Oxfordshire response to Covid-19 and the ongoing health and care needs in Oxfordshire.

Ansaf Azhur (Director of Public Health at the County Council) presented the Covid-19 figures for each of the Districts in the County and reminded HOSC that the figures only cover those people tested and that the infection rate across Oxfordshire can only include those tested and that we have no idea how accurate they are.

The Vale of the White Horse has the lowest recorded infection rate in the County (237 per 100,000 people) but a higher death rate than most other districts (88 per 100,000). Almost half of the people who died in the Vale were in care homes.

HOSC thanked all NHS and other staff and volunteers for all their work during the pandemic.

Also on the agenda was the Oxfordshire Health and Wellbeing Board Annual Report presented by Ian Hudspeth (Leader of Oxfordshire County Council and Chair of the Board).

The performance framework which monitors what the Health and Care services have done to improving health outcomes for our population was included in the report and Dr Alan Cohen (HOSC member) asked what the Board had done to query the performance for the last 12 months when more than half of the measures are recorded as amber or red, not green as they should be. Councillor Hudspeth didn’t have an answer.

OX12 was also on the agenda and nothing has happened since the last meeting on 6th February to progress any decision about the future of health and care provision for our residents.

We pointed out that Wantage Community Hospital has been closed 4 years this week and that this is an extremely long time for a temporary closure.

After some discussion, the Committee agreed that although they accept the continuing need to focus on the Covid-19 response, OX12 must be a top priority for non-Covid project work.

The last meeting recorded that the hospital should fully re-open by September 2020 but this would be postponed to January 1st 2021.

In the meantime Wantage Community Hospital could be valuable to the response to Covid 19, Covid recovery and post Covid phases and this should be kept under active consideration.

No mention was made of any progress on the extension to the Health Centre.


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