Oxfordshire health chiefs have been told to reinstate maternity and make the Horton a centre of excellence.
Councillors from Cherwell, west and south Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire and Warwickshire added their voices in favour of a return of a full obstetric department to Banbury.
Keith Ruddle, Chipping Norton member of the new Horton Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which met for the first time on Friday, said the Horton service should be ‘gold standard’.
“If you make this a gold standard, wonderful place, with a growing population it doesn’t take a lot to (give) it a lot more births. With the viability of greater numbers and a better future I’m sure recruiting (obstetric doctors) would be easier.”
Mr Ruddle suggested the better the Horton’s birth numbers the more likely return of training accreditation might be to alleviate the difficulty of staffing in Banbury.
Cllr Kieron Mallon said: “If (the Oxford University Hospitals – OUH) had trust in the Horton, people would feel more inclined to apply for a job. At the moment we’re in no-man’s land.
“Patients don’t have ‘choice’. They want a safe birth. They’re worried about what might happen if they have to be transferred.”
He said the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology expects midwife-only units to be planned alongside or co-located with obstetric units. He asked why should this not apply to Banbury.
OUH clinical director of maternity Veronica Miller said: “Why not? It is an option.
“The whole drive in maternity is for low-risk women to give birth in low-risk units.
“With regards to safety we haven’t seen an increase in poor outcomes (since the downgrade), just the reverse, we’ve seen a reduction.”