High demand meant no beds were available for very sick newborn babies in Oxford at the weekend

Pressures on the maternity department at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford meant very sick newborn babies were turned away at the weekend.

Tuesday, 2nd November 2021, 3:59 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd November 2021, 4:08 pm
Neo-natal intensive care beds were not available in Oxford at the weekend. Library photo by Hannah McKay - Pool/Getty Images

The Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust was forced to announce that there were no neo-natal intensive care cots, high dependency cots or special care cots available on Saturday.

The department bosses said the units had been 'exceptionally busy' and services were reduced for women from outside Oxfordshire.

Amit Gupta, Clinical Lead for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at OUH, said: “Our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) has been exceptionally busy and, for a short amount of time, we had to temporarily reduce services for women outside Oxfordshire whose babies might need to be cared for on the unit. This was to ensure the provision of safe patient care to those babies already on the ward.

“On the rare occasion this happens, we work with our partners across the health service to locate a suitable location for the patients to be looked after and make sure they receive the appropriate care. I’d like to reassure people that the level of patient care was not impacted during this time.”

Meanwhile staff shortages have meant the continuing closure of the midwife-led birthing units at Chipping Norton and Wantage.

Alison Cuthbertson, Director of Midwifery at OUH, said: “Patient and staff safety is our number one priority. Unfortunately, we are experiencing ongoing staffing constraints so, to safely run our maternity services, the Wantage and Chipping Norton midwifery led units (MLUs) are currently not open for births. The Home Birth service and other low risk birth services across Oxfordshire currently remain unchanged.

“We apologise for the disruption this will cause some families who will have to go to alternative sites, and we are working as hard as possible to restore full services. We will continue to keep this under regular review as staffing allows.

“We would also like to thank our hardworking staff for their continued support of families who are being cared for at our other sites.”