Oxford’s JR is ‘full to bursting’ and cannot take on Banbury’s births, say staff

Special care baby unit will go in September if Horton unit is downgraded (Pictured Mia Healey)
Special care baby unit will go in September if Horton unit is downgraded (Pictured Mia Healey)

The prospect of moving Banbury area’s consultant maternity work to Oxford is set to overwhelm that department, according to staff inside the John Radcliffe.

A member of staff at the John Radcliffe described the Oxford University Hospitals Trust’s (OUHT) plan to end consultant cover for births at the Horton General Hospital as ‘so manipulated it’s scary’.

“I haven’t come across anyone at the JR yet who understands why this is happening.

“Doctors and midwives seem to be baffled. There are only a handful of people behind this and they don’t have a clue about the numbers involved, not only from the Banbury community point of view but from the capacity at the JR. It simply couldn’t cope.

“The last two weeks have been particularly tough and we are constantly full to bursting, asking the Horton to help us out. How can this make any sense. It has been so manipulated it’s scary.”

The OUHT says unless it can recruit sufficient senior doctors to provide safe cover it will have to remove all consultant-led births to the JR women’s centre in late September when three clinical research fellows leave.

Any midwife-led births that encounter problems will have to be transferred, mid delivery, to Oxford.

Midwives and campaigners have been searching for solutions that might help avoid downgrading of the unit, which would happen at the same time as consultation for proposed downgrading of other acute services - expected to be announced at the end of this month.

One Horton doctor has alerted suitably qualified obstetric colleagues in his home country of Uganda and it is understood six have sent their CVs to the head of Obstetrics at the trust for consideration.

Former Horton midwife, Sarah Ayre said: “Staff are overwhelmed by public support. They are doing all they can to keep the unit fully functioning as a consultant led unit. They demand women have easy, timely access to doctors. The JR always has been too far. Management know how many women they send to the Horton because they are fit to burst at the JR. The risks and dangers are huge and obvious.”