The Banbury and Bicester MP took a tour of the John Radcliffe maternity facilities this past Wednesday to seek assurances that the ward could cope with additional births.
The visit focused on the additional provisions that are being put in place in anticipation of the extra births that will now take place at the JR from October 3, following the downgrade of the Horton General Hospital maternity unit.
The MP took look at two new rooms on the delivery suite as well as pre and postnatal wards. The wards have had three extra single rooms and a four bed bay added using the space provided by the closure of the old breastfeeding room.
A new breastfeeding room has been built and is almost ready to open.
On the delivery suite, a theatre has been set aside to use as a contingency if additional rooms are needed. The rooms are still under construction but contractors are working to have them ready by next week.
Mrs Prentis also visited the JR’s Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) where extra beds have been made available. The Oxford University Trust, in charge of the hospital have stated that 25 full-time equivalent midwives will move their place of work from the Horton to the JR, and will be rostered accordingly from Monday, October 3.
Additionally six extra staff are being placed in the SCBU unit at the JR to cope with increased patient numbers.
In order to provide extra support and care for mothers from North Oxfordshire who have delivered at the JR, there are extra plans in place for a new baby clinic which will operate Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm. The clinic will be positioned at the Horton General Hospital.
If any new mothers have any concerns, they are encouraged to drop in during this time. Staff in the children’s ward at the Horton will also be able to provide extra follow up care for high-risk babies who have left a SCBU.
New 36 week scans will now be made available at both the Horton and the JR. It is hoped these scans will help to pick up on any previously undetected issues, allowing birthing plans to be adapted accordingly.
Mrs Prentis said: “I came back reassured that mothers will not end up giving birth in corridors at the John Radcliffe.
“While we all desperately want the Horton obstetric unit to stay open, and I know that we will continue the fight, I felt I ought to look at the facilities a number of mothers from North Oxfordshire will be using.
“Clearly, considerable efforts have been made to accommodate them. I was a little concerned that some of the changes appear to be only suitable in the short term but, as we all hope that our unit will only be closed temporarily, I very much hope that the stand-in facilities at the JR will not be needed long enough for this to be a problem.
“While I remain hopeful that the downgrade of the maternity unit will be reversed in the New Year, I am relieved that temporary provisions for extra accommodation at the JR have been made.”