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Last Updated: Saturday, 30 September 2006, 14:41 GMT 15:41 UK
Hospital protest hailed a success
Banbury Cross mock horse
Campaigners were advised not to use a real horse
Thousands of protesters have marched against planned changes to a hospital in Oxfordshire.

The march took place in Banbury on Friday evening as part of a fight to keep services at the Horton Hospital.

Proposed changes to the children's ward and maternity unit would force some people to travel further away for hospital treatment.

The Oxford Radcliffe NHS Trust said it wanted the hospital to "keep providing as many services as possible".

It was very emotional, another successful event for fighting to keep the Horton services
George Parish

Protestors gathered at the Horton Hospital at about 1800 BST before marching through Banbury to the People's Park, where a rally was held.

George Parish, one of the organisers of the event, told BBC News: "It was absolutely fantastic, we think there was near to 4,000 people on the march.

"The marchers stretched back over a mile. It was very emotional, another successful event for fighting to keep the Horton services."

In a statement issued earlier this month, the Trust said that the "proposals are not aimed at short-term money saving, but at ensuring that services can be run safely in the future".

It highlighted that the plans were based on "new restrictions on working hours and new rules on the number of doctors needed to support services overnight".

Mock horse

Amongst those due to be taking part in the procession was the "fine lady" character from the nursery rhyme "Ride A Cock Horse".

But after police raised safety concerns over taking a real horse on the march, a mock animal ridden by a man in a dress was used instead.

A public consultation period on the plans ends in the middle of October.




SEE ALSO
Protest over Banbury Cross horse
28 Sep 06 |  Oxfordshire
Protest against hospital cutbacks
19 Jun 06 |  Oxfordshire
600 posts to go at NHS hospitals
25 May 06 |  Oxfordshire

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