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Information vacuum over maternity unit
STAFF at Chipping Norton maternity unit were not operating on a ‘unified and cohesive basis’, a report says.
Births at the Midwifery-Led Unit (MLU) are still suspended after an investigation was launched in October last year.
A full review of working practices at the unit is due to be seen by Oxford University Hospitals Trust (OUHT) board members in March.
But an interim report to Oxfordshire’s Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, by head of midwifery Jane Hervé and planning and information director Andrew Stevens, said nothing was wrong with the rate of recent births transferred to other hospitals.
The report said: “An analysis of recent transfers has shown that these were entirely appropriate and done to ensure the safety of the mother and baby.
“It appears that some staff have recently been more cautious when working in the Cotswold Maternity Unit because of the prevailing culture of the unit; this is related to the fact that the team was not operating in a unified and cohesive basis.
“A number of concerns have been raised by staff who have been on the periphery of the units at Chipping Norton. These relate to the culture and the difficulties this has caused between groups of staff. This will be addressed in the main report.”
The OUHT refused to comment further on the findings so far, and said it would wait for the final report before it revealed the content of concerns raised.
West Oxfordshire district councillor for Chipping Norton Annie Roy-Barker said it was “disgraceful” that residents and patients were being kept in the dark.
She said: “People think it’s an awful long time for it to be closed, and we want to see normality restored as soon as possible.
“People are saying the usual sort of thing people say when they are completely in the dark. People are asking what’s going on.”
After the suspension of births last year, concerns were raised about the rate at which births were transferred to other units, such as the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford.
At the time, it was revealed the transfer rate was about 45 per cent, but Ms Hervé said it should have been closer to 25 per cent.
Between April 2009 and March 2010, 159 babies were born under the care of the unit. The following year that fell to 92, and during the following year 117 babies were born at the unit.
Between April last year and the suspension in October, 33 babies were born there.
Following the suspension of births at the unit, a claim was made through the gopetition website that two midwives had been suspended from the unit after raising concerns about work practices and safety.
The petition, which now has 658 signatures, called for them to be reinstated, but the OUHT has refused to even confirm the suspension or make any comment.
Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee meets on Thursday at 10am at County Hall.
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