Mothers in Banburyshire have described a chaotic situation at the JR birthing centre since consultant-led obstetrics was removed from the Horton General last October.
Although Oxford University Hospitals Trust bosses assured councillors there was capacity for up to 1,200 extra births – in addition to the 5,800 already delivered each year at the JR – the new mums describe a worrying picture of stress and overload.
Mothers close to delivery have been sent home because there are too few beds. Others were moved to delivery suites only minutes before their infants were born. Some claim there were no cots.
More than one mum described on social media how husbands were told to drive them to Oxford and, if she began to push, to call an ambulance.
Keep the Horton General chairman Keith Strangwood said: “We have always known this was the likely outcome of the insane decision to remove consultant-led maternity from this rapidly growing area.
“There was never any indication the JR would be able to manage our 1,500 a year births. These accounts shows something has to be done to bring obstetrics back to Banbury.”
One mum said: “It was only when I threatened to transfer to Northampton at midnight they called in an extra midwife and showed me to an empty room.
“We had been waiting around all day being told I was high risk and needed my waters breaking. But we were continually told the delivery suite had no room or midwife for us.
“After discharging myself at 10pm, exhausted, we arrived back in Brackley for me to go into labour. We rushed back to the JR to be told there’s still no room. I was ready to go to Northampton as I felt so let down by the hospital and so panicked.
“Suddenly I was magically shown to a room on the delivery suite and a midwife was called.
“In the same situation again, I would not go near the JR. It is clearly not coping. If I hadn’t insisted on looking into going to Northampton I wonder if my little one would’ve ended up being delivered in the assessment room too. There was a baby being delivered there on the previous Wednesday when we waited for hours and left without being seen,” she said.
Another mum said staff were saying how they cannot accept any more people as they had no beds and would have to turn patients away. “This is the main hospital in Oxfordshire and they are saying this.”
Sharon Hills said: “I was left in reception and a waiting room without any drugs. I finally got in a delivery room and my little boy was born 75 minutes later.”
But Oxford hospitals bosses say they have provided more beds and delivery rooms and hired temporary operating theatres to manage Banburyshire births that would have been delivered at the Horton.
Jane Herve, head of midwifery at Oxford University Hospitals Trust said: “We have not at any point had to close to births or had a capacity issue. There are always busy times in maternity which are often hard to predict because of the nature of labour but our service is set up to be very flexible and we bring in additional midwives quickly to ensure one-to-one care in labour.”
Ms Herve said the trust had to temporarily suspend doctor-led births at the Horton for safety reasons because of insufficient doctors. “We were determined to continue to provide a high quality of care and experience,” she said.
The transfer was accompanied by ‘appropriate changes to maintain this standard of care and avoid putting our patients at risk’, said Ms Herve. These included extra beds at the JR maternity unit, additional delivery rooms, additional temporary operating theatres at the JR (a temporary, state of the art theatre was brought in for gynaecology patients as planned Caesarean sections take place in gynaecology theatres).
Temporary transfer of some midwives and the Horton’s doctors also took place.
“We prioritised the maternity care for women from Oxfordshire and Brackley. We wrote to surrounding areas saying unless women from outside Oxfordshire needed specialist services we would not accept bookings for them.”