Options for future maternity service for Banbury mums are ‘scored’

Patient choice about where mums give birth and training for maternity doctors at the Horton were major topics at an event ‘scoring’ options for the future.

Wednesday, 5th June 2019, 10:51 am
The Horton General Hospital, Maternity Unit, in Banbury whose future is under discussion NNL-160706-143655009

Stakeholders involved in a review of the downgrade of the Horton’s consultant-led maternity unit waded their way through a 158-page document to give scores to 11 options on where services could be provided in future.

Keep the Horton General (KTHG) was at the meeting and gave opinion but had declined to score the options because the group felt the long document was flawed.

Jenny Jones of KTHG, who attended as an observer, said: “Not everyone scored everything as there was a lack of understanding about some things in the information pack document, which included a survey done by consultants for the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG).

Lou Patten, chief executive officer of Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group NNL-180918-105829001

“That involved surveying mothers who have given birth since the Horton obstetric unit was closed in 2016.”

Mrs Jones said different interpretations of patient choice produced a lively discussion.

“There was a prolonged discussion on patient choice. We think it means mothers should be able to choose where to give birth.

“The Oxford University Hospitals Trust (OUH) sees choice as being more than one kind of childbirth delivery – at home, in midwife unit or in an obstetric unit – which is at the JR in Oxfordshire.

“A consultant unit 25 miles away isn’t really a choice if there are no alternatives for mums needing a doctor,” she said.

Mrs Jones said an important part of the event provoking much discussion was about training accreditation.

The Horton lost training accreditation in 2013, when the bar was raised on the number of babies born and it was deemed to provide insufficient experience for junior doctors.

It meant recruitment to the Horton became ‘difficult’ in the absence of alternatives – such as using rotas of staff from Oxford and ultimately, a shortage of doctors led to the temporary closure of the Banbury unit, with special care baby unit, in October 2016.

The Horton Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HHOSC) was set up last year after the Secretary of State for Health ordered a Banburyshire-wide review of the downgrade.

KTHG says regaining training accreditation would help solve the staffing issue, along with a rise in the number of deliveries at the Horton if more mums from north and west of Oxford are accommodated in Banbury.

The group is in the process of finalising research on how this is accomplished at a number of other small hospitals across England and Wales.

OCCG chief Lou Patten said: “A panel of hospital and primary care clinicians, NHS managers, local campaigners and women’s representatives were ‘scoring’ a number of different possible options for how and where services could be provided in future.

“The options process we are using has been shared with the HHOSC and is one of several ways of gathering information to feed back to decision makers, alongside our survey and focus groups with mothers and families.

“All members of the panel had been invited to score each option in advance of the meeting for a range of different criteria. These included patient experience, choice and travel as well as clinical outcomes and workforce.

“The scoring panel discussed their scores on the day to try to reach agreement. The process was thorough and the evidence and data being used was, in some cases, complex.

“For some, scores were relatively close and in a few areas there was a wide range of scores.

“Panel members shared their views and also listened carefully to each other. As a result, they were all prepared to persuade and to compromise in an effort to seek consensus.

“The majority of scores were agreed. A small number require more information before a score can be agreed. The information needed will be gathered and shared with the panel and a further meeting set up as soon as possible to complete this work. The results will then be shared with stakeholders, HOSC and the public.”