Mother asks whether Oxford can cope with Horton births

Karen Osenton, from Kings Sutton, with her daughter, Annie Kay. NNL-160913-171115009
Karen Osenton, from Kings Sutton, with her daughter, Annie Kay. NNL-160913-171115009

King’s Sutton mum Karen Osenton enjoys life with her partner and daughter Annie but the baby’s birth by Caesarean section resulted in a near-death experience.

Mrs Osenton now questions whether the ‘overwhelmed’ JR Hospital will manage the Horton’s deliveries after the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals Trust centralises consultant-led maternity from Banbury on October 3.

“The JR staff did try their best but they are much too overworked,” said Mrs Osenton, who suffers a broken back and hip problems.

Annie was born in February, before plans to move Horton maternity were revealed. Mrs Osenton was diagnosed with hypertension so was referred to the JR where she had to go every alternate day for four weeks.

“All women in labour or who need monitoring have to go through the Medical Assessment Unit (MAU). It is dark, cramped and dirty and there are insufficient chairs. Patients were often left standing or in the corridor,” she said.

“Observation rooms had one hard bench in them. I often waited four to eight hours on one. Because of my broken back and being heavily pregnant I could not lie on it for this long but was told due to lack of space in delivery, lots of women had to give birth on these benches.

“Staff requests for proper beds were ignored. Every time I went I had to give a urine sample and was told to leave it on the side. Each time both toilets had at least six to ten samples left. I was told they were too busy.

“Once a lady was having contractions two minutes apart and was ignored. In the end I demanded someone help her and was told they were too busy.

“In the day assessment unit the 30 seats were nearly always full. Waiting times were so long because they had only three beds. A cupboard had been made into a cubicle with a hard observation table in it. There were usually only one or two midwives working so once in a cubicle you still waited four to six hours for tests that should only take an hour. I was told they were too busy and the unit could not cope. You heard women weeping in frustration at the lack of staff and the time taken to do anything,” she said.

“The journey there was horrendous, 45 to 90 minutes. Mum often had to pull over while I was sick. I did my best to persuade my consultant to let me have the tests at the Horton where I had a bed straight away and all tests back within an hour.

“The consultant told me I was very ill and should be delivered that day but he could not enforce this. Back at the JR they made me wait another two weeks and my condition deteriorated.

“For eight hours after my Caesarean I complained of pain and was ignored – again ‘too busy’. I had suffered a mass internal bleed, had developed severe pre-eclampsia and my liver and kidneys had completely stopped working. I was rushed back to theatre and woke up in intensive care. The JR had nearly killed me and all because they were too busy.”

Catherine Stoddart, chief nurse at OUHT said: “We are very sorry to hear about Ms Osenton’s experience in our hospital. We are continually striving for excellence throughout the trust and I therefore hope that Ms Osenton will make arrangements to talk to our team about her experiences so that we can ensure that we learn from any issues raised. It is national practice that women with high risk pregnancies need access to specialist services such as those at the John Radcliffe Hospital for obstetric and neonatal care.”