IT IS great to have some good news in the fight to save acute services at the Horton General Hospital.

Since the obstetric until closed 18 months ago the vast majority of pregnant local women have had to travel to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford in the latter stages of their labour, a journey which as we know can take an hour and a half.

This has been a troubling and frightening time for them, their families, and the wider community.

A fortnight ago, we received the report of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (who were so instrumental in saving us in 2008).

The Secretary of State for Health accepted their advice.

The IRP concluded that further work needs to be undertaken before any decision can be taken.

They recognise the interdependencies of services at the Horton, but they make it very clear that full consideration must be given to the provision of antenatal care, travel and parking arrangements as well as local population growth before any final decision is made.

A special committee, which crosses county boundaries, will be set up to scrutinise developments.

While this work is carried out, the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH) has been told to continue to try to recruit in order to re-open the unit.

I will be doing all I can to support this process.

It is great that so many local businesses offered support for this; with gifts of housing and even Hooky beer!

If anyone reading this has practical suggestions for attracting obstetricians to our area, please do get in touch.

We need to start again with a blank sheet, and work together to create a real vision for the future of healthcare in Oxfordshire.

I am looking forward to uniting with others across the huge area which relies on the Horton General to ensure our voices are heard.