Banbury campaign group calls for early return of Horton’s prem baby unit

The Horton General Hospital, Maternity Unit whose SCBU has been moved to Oxford
The Horton General Hospital, Maternity Unit whose SCBU has been moved to Oxford

Banbury’s hospital campaign group Keep the Horton General has called for a swift return of consultant-led maternity and special baby care (SCBU) to the Horton.

Spokesman Charlotte Bird said information on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour about the national increase in premature babies demonstrates a local SCBU unit is needed more than ever before.

“On last Monday’s programme, Caroline Davey, head of Bliss - the charity promoting the best care for premature babies and their families - and campaigners were guests,” said Ms Bird.

“Caroline said 35-40,000 premature babies are born every year. This number has steadily increased over time, due to advances enabling more premature babies to survive, women becoming mums later in life and poverty and deprivation.”

Ms Bird said it is nationally acknowledged that Banbury has three areas of significant poverty and deprivation. “Cuts in services at the Horton impact most on those people.”

“Having a premature baby was described as a ‘hugely traumatic experience’ whilst ‘investing early in the right care for babies ensuring their proper development will save the NHS money long term’,” she said.

“It beggars belief that Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust deemed it appropriate to remove the Special Care Baby Unit from the Horton in tandem with consultant led maternity.

“A week after the programme Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced a new compensation scheme for babies injured at birth because of failings in maternity care’ - currently running at half a billion pounds a year,” said Ms Bird.

OUHFT says it will return maternity services to Banbury when possible but is to consult on ending obstetrics and the children’s ward in Banbury in January.