Campaign group’s dossier details ‘horrific’ traumas among Banburyshire mums

Keith Strangwood at The Horton General Hospital, Maternity Unit, in Banbury. NNL-160706-143901009
Keith Strangwood at The Horton General Hospital, Maternity Unit, in Banbury. NNL-160706-143901009

Hospital campaign group Keep the Horton General says women are suffering post traumatic stress disorder due to Horton downgrading.

The group has compiled a dossier of womens’ experiences that include accounts of distress, fear, frustration and inconvenience as women have given birth at the JR Hospital in Oxford.

The trust ended the consultant-led maternity service at the Horton in October 2016 saying they could not recruit enough doctors to keep it safe.

The midwife unit left at the Horton was predicted to deal with up to 500 births a year but only a fraction materialised with well over 1,000 Banburyshire women who would have given birth at the Horton being directed to Oxford in a pressurised department delivering 7,000 to 8,000 babies a year.

“The accounts we have been sent depict an catalogue of horror stories,” said KTHG press officer Charlotte Bird.

“They include harrowing descriptions of women being left in labour or awaiting treatment post-birth without access to pain relief or support.

“Women witnessed mothers giving birth in the lavatory and others labouring in examination wards.

“In some cases breast feeding advice and help was simply not forthcoming. Mums complained that they were left with flashbacks and that long delays had affected bonding with their babies.”

The dossier was prepared for the Horton Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (Horton HOSC).

The contributions were referred to at last Monday’s meeting when the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust representatives said each mother had one to one care from a midwife.

However most mums who gave their stories said the JR birth unit was too busy and extremely short staffed. There were stories of delay in administering anti-biotics leading to dangerous consequences for mothers and babies.

Among numerous distressing stories was one whose baby contracted life-threatening sepsis through such a delay.

Because of the pressure on staffing the mother - incapacitated by birth complications - was only able to see her sick baby once a day, by wheelchair, when her husband visited.

One said: “My experience completely ruined our journey into parenthood. I don’t know if we’ll ever get over it.”

Women described emergency transfers from the Horton as ‘a nightmare’.

One mother said the labour ward at the JR was full the entire time and she was upset hearing a woman screaming for pain relief in the next room.

“I arrived on labour ward completely exhausted as I was too terrified to sleep overnight.The care on labour ward was second to none but the wait was damaging psychologically,” she said.

Another mum had to be transferred at the last minute but there were no ambulances available and, needing an emergency caesarean, she had to be driven in her husband’s car. There was no parking available and no-one to meet them.

Many women’s planned inductions were delayed for long periods because of labour ward pressure. Travel, traffic, parking and worry about children at home were constant complaints.

One woman who suffered a haemorrhage giving birth at the Horton was rushed to the JR leaving her husband to manage the newborn baby in a car seat in the middle of the night.

The frightened mum suffered many hours’ distressing misunderstandings that delayed her surgery. She suffers frequent flashbacks.