HORTON HOSPITAL UPDATE
At an Extraordinary Board Meeting on 31st August, the Oxford University
Hospitals Foundation Trust (OUHFT) agreed to ‘temporarily’ close the
consultant led maternity service at the Horton General Hospital (Horton)
on the grounds of safety. Although the OUHFT had known for over a year
that it was having difficulty recruiting junior obstetricians, very little appears
to have been done to make the positions more attractive. Following the
resignation of two doctors, the decision was made to close the unit,
leaving just a midwife led facility. The Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) will
Board members were persuaded that the situation was just temporary and
the unit would re-open as soon as sufficient doctors could be recruited and
passed an induction period at the John Radcliffe Hospital (JR).
This means that the remaining service gives women the same experience
as giving birth at home with just a midwife in attendance. Should there be
any complication, the patient and midwife would then be required to travel
to the JR by ambulance. When things go wrong, it happens extremely
quickly and the local GPs, local councillors and the Keep the Horton
General Campaign Group have serious concerns regarding the safety and
time taken in such a transfer.
The closure of the consultant led service was originally planned for 3rd
October, but it has now been brought forward to 1st October. The birth
rate at the Horton was around 1500 per year. It is anticipated that the
midwife led unit will see less than 400 patients per year, leaving an already
struggling JR to cope with the rest, though some may opt for Warwick or
Northampton. The Horton has regularly taken babies into the SCBU when
the JR has run out of capacity. With this option no longer available, babies
may have to travel even further afield.
There are suspicions that the closure is a deliberate ploy to avoid a
consultation on the issue. The Clinical Commissioning Group is working
on a Sustainability and Transformation (i.e. saving money) Plan. The
options put forward so far have not included consultant led maternity or
children’s inpatient beds. The consultation is due in December and then
as many people as possible need to object to the downgrade of
Meantime the Keep the Horton Campaign Group is fighting on. It
continues to raise funds for a legal challenge and there will be a protest in
Westminster on October 10th, joining with other campaign groups who are
seeing their hospital services downgraded. A petition will also be
delivered to Downing Street.
This information is taken from the Jenny Jones Claydon e-newsletter with her kind permission.