THE fight is far from over for politicians and campaigners who want to see a re-think of major healthcare plans in Oxfordshire.

Cherwell District Council is hoping for another bite of the legal cherry as it calls for a judicial review into how Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has consulted on its ‘transformation plans.’

The pre-hearing today at the Royal Courts of Justice comes after the district council and other local authorities were initially refused permission for a full hearing in July.

Now a different judge will decide whether the district council’s legal submissions are arguable and warrants a full hearing into how the CCG have split its consultation into two phases.

Members of the campaign group Keep The Horton General (KTHG) will be supporting the district council and its chairman Keith Strangwood said the current transformation plan could still be ‘u-turned’.

He added: “What we are hoping is for the court to agree that the CCG’s split consultation is illegal.

“Which would mean it would have to start the whole consultation from scratch.

“We can still stop this, we have hope.”

If permission is granted today, a full-hearing will be listed for another date and the High Court will rule on the legality of the CCG’s split consultation.

KTHG’s solicitor Rowan Smith from Leigh Day said: “The campaign has been fighting to save the Horton General for nearly 20 years, demonstrating that this is an incredibly important local issue.

“Our clients believe that there were a number of substantial flaws present in the CCG’s consultation process and we hope that the High Court will take these into consideration when hearing this case.”

Last month board members of the CCG approved the first phase of healthcare plans, including centralising acute stroke services, more bed closures and the permanent downgrade of maternity services at the Horton General Hospital to a midwife-led unit.

Details have yet to emerge on the second phase of the transformation plan but campaigners fear decisions already made in the first phase will impact those made in the second.

Banbury MP Victoria Prentis, who has campaigned tirelessly to stop the permanent downgrade of maternity services at the Horton, said she will seek advice from her colleagues also affected by the downgrade.

She told the Oxford Mail: “Parliament returns next week which will give me the opportunity to regroup with colleagues from neighbouring constituencies who have been supportive throughout.

“Together we will continue to lobby the Department of Health.

“I also hope to secure an Adjournment debate about the Horton.”

The CCG confirmed its chief executive David Smith would be attending today.