Collection of horrific birth experiences published by campaigners fighting to reinstate consultant-led maternity services in Banbury

Keep the Horton General (KTHG) has distributed a dossier of birth traumas.Keep the Horton General (KTHG) has distributed a dossier of birth traumas.
Keep the Horton General (KTHG) has distributed a dossier of birth traumas.
A collection of horrific birth experiences at the John Radcliffe Hospital (JR), Oxford has been published by a group of hospital campaigners in a bid to reinstate consultant-led maternity services in Banbury.

Keep the Horton General (KTHG) has distributed a dossier of birth traumas collected by Beth Hopper, a mother who experienced years of heartbreaking pregnancy loss including a devastating stillbirth.

Campaigners believe the many experiences - which we have been highlighting in the Banbury Guardian - are the result of the downgrade of the Horton Maternity Hospital, Banbury which was reduced to a midwife-only unit in 2016.

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That Horton unit was rated ‘requires improvement’ in March 2024 having been a ‘good’ obstetric unit before the downgrade, which the JR used to cope with overflow.

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Scores of Banbury mothers contribute to dossier of tragic and horrendous births ...

A spokesperson for the KTHG said: "The downgrade came eight years after the Secretary of State for Health refused to allow an identical plan on the basis that it was ‘unsafe and inhumane’ to transport women in labour 25-miles for obstetric care.

"These awful accounts follow the Theo Clarke report into birth trauma and the recent Nottingham inquiry. This new publication is supported by the Birth Trauma Association.

"The Theo Clarke inquiry report said - "...poor care was all-too-frequently tolerated as normal”. This appears to be happening at the JR.

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"The NHS paid an estimated £8.2 billion in 2021 - 2022 for birth negligence and ‘cost of harm’ in maternity services. The cost of running the Horton Maternity Hospital was estimated at c£2.1 million - a comparatively miniscule amount - and a drop in the ocean considering the emotional and physical damage now being suffered by some women (and in some cases babies).

"To put this into context, the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust (OUH) pays over £88m p.a. on PFI. The Banbury hospital catchment is bigger than the population of Oxford city and deserves its own obstetric unit to prevent mothers suffering in this way."

The campaigners said they are concerned that a "generation of women will record traumatic birth experiences - precisely the opposite of what should happen".

"KTHG believes JR midwives and doctors are under intense, unacceptable pressure at the JR through birth numbers (c7,500+ p.a.), leading to unacceptable ‘management’ of births and patient trauma described in the dossier," added the KTHG spokesperson.

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The Banbury Guardian has been highlighting the traumatic case studies over the past few weeks.

Yvonne Christley, chief nursing officer at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The safety and wellbeing of mothers and babies in our care is our top priority, and we sincerely apologise to any women who may not have received the expected level of care.

“We have today, Monday June 17, received a document from Keep the Horton General Campaign Group, and we will be reviewing its contents.

“We encourage anyone concerned about the care they have received to get in touch by talking to the team looking after them or by contacting our complaints team. As a Trust, we want to listen, learn, and make improvements based on the feedback we receive. Our Birth Reflections Service also supports women who have had a difficult birthing experience, and we encourage any woman who requires assistance to reach out for support.”

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