The independent reconfiguration panel has advised the health secretary to reject Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals trust's proposals to downgrade paediatric, gynaecological and obstetric services at Horton Hospital because it would not provide an accessible or improved service for local people.

The panel decided the trust's proposals were driven primarily by concerns about the future safety and sustainability of workforce arrangements at the hospital, but that patient choice and access must also be a priority.

Dr Peter Barrett, chair of the panel, said: "The local community's access to services would be seriously compromised if the trust's proposals were implemented.

"Panel members were particularly concerned about the difficult and costly journeys that local people would need to make to Oxford and felt that this might even prevent or delay some people from seeking medical advice or treatment."