Pressure on special cots for seriously ill, newborn babies continues as Oxford remains on 'red alert'

The dire lack of neo-natal intensive care beds in the region continues to be seen this week. Oxford's JR hospital has continued to operate on 'red alert'

Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 3:59 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 11:24 am
The regional neo-natal dashboard for today (Tuesday, November 9) showing no intensive, high-dependency or special care beds at Oxford

Into a second week the 'neo-natal dashboard' shows that the hospital has had no intensive care beds for newborns, no high-dependency cots and no special care beds. It did, however show that four maternity beds were available.

For the rest of the last week, figures have shown the JR to be full and unable to take newborns from outside of the county.

It appears that for most of the week the only neo natal intensive care beds have been in Portsmouth and only a single cot at any time. Southampton has also been under severe pressure and on Friday did not have a single maternity bed.

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The neo-natal dashboard for Friday, November 5 showing Oxford on red alert and only one neonatal intensive care bed in Portsmouth

This time last week, the trust's Clinical Lead for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at OUH, Amit Gupta, 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.”

However the situation has continued for over a week.

A Banbury observer said alternatives for families with very sick newborn babies could be Birmingham, Bristol, London, Devon and Essex. She said two neonatal transfer ambulances had been seen waiting outside the JR birth unit on Friday.

There has huge pressure on cots for very sick newborn babies at the JR Hospital, Oxford over the last week. Picture by Getty

The Banbury Guardian asked the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust for details of what would happen to very sick babies, born at the JR, if there were no suitable beds. We also asked where babies might need to be transferred to and if there was any prospect of the situation improving soon, but the Trust said they had nothing to add to last week's response.