Scores of Banbury mothers contribute to dossier of tragic and horrendous births in the shadow Horton maternity downgrade

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Scores of Banbury mothers have described a catalogue of failings in the maternity system that replaced the Horton General Hospital’s obstetric service.

The Horton’s consultant-led service and special care baby unit, were removed in 2016 and the midwife-only service left for Banbury was this year rated ‘requires improvement’ by the Care Quality Commission – see here.

Since then the JR Hospital, Oxford has had to manage 7,000 – 8,000 births per year – nearly 2,000 of which are mothers from the Banbury area.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The mothers contributing to the Keep the Horton General (KTHG) dossier – some 40 to date – have recorded their experiences ranging from being belittled and disbelieved by staff to being told to make their own way to Oxford after discovering their baby had died before birth.

One woman felt disbelieved when she reported a haemorrhage which could have killed her. Another had to lie on the floor because there was no bed for her. Many complained of so few staff they could not get the attention of a midwife, doctor or nurse because the unit was so over-run.

The dossier has been prepared by its collator and author, Beth Hopper – who took on the task after being a victim of terrible miscarriage experiences herself, before giving birth to her daughter, Alice. Following a post on Instagram she received a flood of stories showing how numerous women have been traumatised and want full maternity returned to Banbury.

This important dossier comes as a government Birth Trauma Inquiry report was published, whose chairman described good childbirth as a ‘postcode lottery’. The report calls on ministers to recruit, train and retain more midwives, obstetricians and anaesthetists to ensure safe staffing in maternity services.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

KTHG is launching a new campaign to return a full maternity service to Banbury and demanding the group is fully included in ‘Plan B’ discussions taking place for the Horton’s redevelopment following the failure of a £370m bid for government funding.

Baby Aubrey Wakeling, whose mother Becky has contributed to the dossier of birth experiencesBaby Aubrey Wakeling, whose mother Becky has contributed to the dossier of birth experiences
Baby Aubrey Wakeling, whose mother Becky has contributed to the dossier of birth experiences

Spokesman Charlotte Bird said: “It was as inevitable as night following day. The Birth Trauma Report into the awful state of maternity provision is a mirror for many mothers in the Banbury area. We have a dire need for obstetrics to be returned to the Horton. We will continue to fight for mothers who have been so badly disadvantaged in this 'postcode lottery'.”

In the first of three articles the Banbury Guardian highlights how childbirth has been for some mothers. Complaints relating to trauma caused lack of staffing affecting patient care are repeated through the 40 contributors.

Shauna Vincent said: “On March 4, I rang the JR to say I was bleeding. They advised I travel to the JR from Banbury to be checked. When I got there I waited for over an hour. The midwife said she couldn’t find the heartbeat so called a doctor who said ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘it’s about moving forward now’ after telling me my baby was dead.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"The hospital didn’t check my cervix or anything, just took blood and gave me a tablet - I could have already been in labour.

Shauna Vincent and her husband David. Mrs Vincent, who lost her baby, came round from anaesthetic in a ward of mothers and newborn infantsShauna Vincent and her husband David. Mrs Vincent, who lost her baby, came round from anaesthetic in a ward of mothers and newborn infants
Shauna Vincent and her husband David. Mrs Vincent, who lost her baby, came round from anaesthetic in a ward of mothers and newborn infants

"I was expected to go back to give birth to the baby. My waters broke driving home where I gave birth on the toilet. I rang the JR who told me to phone an ambulance and stay on the line.

"The ambulance arrived 10 - 15 mins later. I was bleeding a lot. They had to help me off the toilet as I couldn’t stand. They put me on a stretcher and into the ambulance. They said they couldn’t remove anything so left the baby between my legs. I bled so much I passed out and got blue lighted to the JR.

"When I arrived everyone looked in shock. I got rushed into theatre as my placenta hadn’t came out and they couldn’t remove it while I was awake – the doctor couldn’t find it and it was hurting too much.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I came round on the delivery suite to crying babies, yet my dead baby was in a cold cot next to me. It was like it was a dream.

Becky Wakeling and her baby boy, Aubrey. Mrs Wakeling waited five days in the JR to have her baby after being told it should be delivered within 24 hoursBecky Wakeling and her baby boy, Aubrey. Mrs Wakeling waited five days in the JR to have her baby after being told it should be delivered within 24 hours
Becky Wakeling and her baby boy, Aubrey. Mrs Wakeling waited five days in the JR to have her baby after being told it should be delivered within 24 hours

"They got me up and sat me on a chair and I passed out again. I didn’t get taken to the bereavement ward until the next morning, despite me pleading to be moved. The bereavement ward was swarming with flies. The midwife said ‘we’ve reported it but they keep coming back’.

“The doctor recommended an iron infusion but I would have to go back to the delivery suite so I refused. They tried taking blood twice and in the end said there was no point if I’ve refused the infusion. There was no compassion. The midwife asked to come round the next day but I didn’t want anyone. I received a parking fine, despite the midwife saying they’d reimburse our parking.”

Becky Wakeling

“I had preeclampsia and needed to be induced within 24 hours. That night a lady opposite me began to give birth. They moved her when she started pushing. The next day they were short staffed and I couldn't be induced. I was very worried as I needed induction within 24 hours. My husband visited but I wasn't allowed to see my 23 month old son.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I waited five days on the ward, crying. A lady began to give birth in the toilet after being told there was no room on delivery suite. They took her down but only when she was pushing.

"I went into spontaneous labour. My son’s birth was quick. However, once the placenta had come out I knew something wasn't right. I asked the midwife if it was all there and was told it was.

A green folder - Shauna Vincent was sent away with this folder to help her come to terms with the loss of her babyA green folder - Shauna Vincent was sent away with this folder to help her come to terms with the loss of her baby
A green folder - Shauna Vincent was sent away with this folder to help her come to terms with the loss of her baby

"The next morning went to shower, only to feel the need to push. I pushed out retained placenta the size of two fists and I was so frightened. I rang the emergency buzzer and a midwife came and quickly whipped it away.

"She came back and said my placenta had been noted as being incomplete after my birth - but I'd been told it was complete. I continued to pass pieces of placenta for four weeks. There was no after care. My GP eventually sent me for a scan which showed I had passed all the placenta naturally. I was told I should have had that scan at the JR.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"There was no dignity or privacy and the staff were repeatedly saying they were tired and short staffed.”

Milica Redfearn, Director of Midwifery at OUH, said: “We aim to make every birth experience at our hospitals a good one. We recognise this is not always the case and we strive to improve where services have not met our high standards.

“Earlier this year, the CQC’s national maternity survey demonstrated largely positive feedback about maternity services at OUH. Safe staffing is a priority of the OUH maternity service.

“Anyone who has concerns about the care they receive with us here at OUH is encouraged to speak up and raise these with us. We are a learning organisation and want to know where there are improvements that we can make. Our Birth Reflections Service offers support to women who have had a difficult birthing experience.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Another three dossier cases will feature next week. If you have suffered a difficult or traumatic birth experience you wish to share for the dossier, please contact us at [email protected]

Related topics: