Health chiefs launch maternity survey in Banbury
An appeal has gone out for mothers who have given birth since the Horton maternity unit was downgraded to respond to a new survey.
Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) is hoping mums and their partners will give their views on how the alternative service has worked for them.
The OCCG is central to a new review of the process that led to removing consultant maternity from the Horton to Oxford in 2016.
This is being led by a new cross-border health and scrutiny committee formed mainly by elected councillors.
The CCG says the feedback will help them understand what the mums think is important, what worked for them and what could be better, as well as how changes made at the Horton have affected them.
Some 16,000 women who have given birth in one of the maternity units in Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Reading and Swindon over the last two years have been asked to take part.
Details of the survey will be sent directly to women who have used these services.
Women living in south Northants and south Warwickshire will also be invited as they live in the Horton catchment.
The survey asks questions about their experience of labour and giving birth and the choices they made. This will include travelling to hospital, car parking, location of services and it will ask women to describe their experiences.
Catherine Mountford, director of governance at OCCG, said: “We urge all women who have given birth since October 2016 to look out for their invitation letter coming through the post and once it arrives I would like to encourage them to take part and complete the survey with as much information as possible.
“The debate around the future of maternity services in Banbury has been going on for some time. People have strong feelings about the closure of the Horton obstetrics unit and its impact on families in the north of the county and beyond.
“We are looking again at the options and need to take account of the experience of women from across Oxfordshire as well as those living in the Horton catchment area.
“We need to understand if the experience of women from all these areas is similar or different and how the changes at the Horton have impacted them.”
The survey is being carried out by a specialist research company.
The results will be used by OCCG when it makes decisions about Horton maternity services later this year. People can find out more about this work by visiting the OCCG website www.oxfordshireccg.nhs.uk.
Sophie Hammond of Keep the Horton General said: “KTHG is pleased to have been represented in the working group which has had input into designing this survey.
“It’s important for HHOSC to have a clear picture of what women’s birth experiences are like in the wake of the downgrade. It will be interesting to see how distance and increased births at the JR have affected women’s experiences.”
Mrs Hammond said: “KTHG recently carried out a short survey online via social media and its mailing list which showed that 95 per cent of women of childbearing age who responded would prefer to give birth at the Horton should obstetrics be returned.
“This latest, more in-depth survey is specifically open to women who have given birth since the Horton maternity unit downgrade and it will look holistically at the whole birth experience from antenatal care through to feeding support, including often overlooked issues associated with childbirth such as the experience of partners, provision of childcare for older siblings, ease of journey and parking availability.
“KTHG urges mothers to complete this survey as it will be an important opportunity for recent service users to feed back about their experience and whether it could have been improved,” she said.