Horton hospital maternity unit downgrade extended
The controversial temporary downgrade of a hospital's maternity service because of a shortage of doctors has been extended.
The unit at Banbury's Horton General Hospital is currently midwife-led, rather than consultant-led.
Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust had hoped to reopen the obstetric unit in January but now says it will not be until March.
Chief executive Dr Bruno Holthof said there was still a doctor shortage.
He said: "Across the NHS, hospital trusts are affected by a shortage of obstetric doctors, and unfortunately this has also hit recruitment for the Horton General Hospital.
"We are disappointed that we cannot return obstetric-led maternity services to the Horton in January as hoped and we will continue to advertise widely, offering an enhanced package to attract the candidates we need.
"Patient safety must come first, and of course we cannot run the obstetric-led service without the staff for it to operate safely."
The unit requires nine doctors.
A petition with 17,000 signatures against the downgrade plan was delivered to the board in August.
Midwives at the hospital submitted a collective grievance via the GMB union earlier this month, saying staff had not been consulted properly over the change and the impact on their jobs.