Cotswold Maternity Unit should reopen 'immediately'

A maternity unit shut during a probe into working practices should reopen "immediately", a councillor has said.

Cotswold Maternity Unit in Chipping Norton closed in October.

Health officials have vowed to open the centre once any recommendations have been implemented but they are not set to be revealed until 13 March.

Ward councillor Hilary Biles said midwives who are delivering babies in the community should be able to do so at the unit now.

'Very vague'

Mrs Biles said: "Effectively we have to wait until 13 March to see what the trust has to say. It's very vague what they are going to do.

"In my view if the midwives are still working in the community doing home births I can't for the life of me understand why they can't deliver babies in the unit.

"I would like to see the unit reopen immediately".

The review was sparked by concerns about working practices, higher than expected transfer rates and falling birth numbers.

The midwife-led unit for women with low-risk pregnancies is still open to antenatal and postnatal patients.

Jane Herve, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust head of midwifery, said: "We remain totally committed to reopening the Cotswold Maternity Unit to births as soon as we are able to.

"We will work with local mothers and GPs to make the reopened unit a success. The problems that led us to where we are today are very complicated and we need to ensure that they are thoroughly addressed".

Trust officials said a more effective discharge policy was needed along with an agreement on staffing and an appropriate mix of skills among workers.

Calls have been made for midwives and GPs to support each other more in caring for women and a review of working arrangements is said to be required, the Trust added.

However patient transfers made were "entirely appropriate" and done to ensure the safety of mother and baby, it said.

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