Oxford

Oxford hospitals NHS trust suspended midwife services

John Radcliffe Hospital Image copyright Bill Nicholls
Image caption Midwife services in Oxfordshire were suspended because of issues at the John Radcliffe Hospital

Staffing problems at an Oxford hospital meant midwife services across the rest of the county were suspended for an evening.

Midwives were only on duty at the John Radcliffe Hospital on Thursday evening.

Rosalie Wright, director of midwifery at the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, confirmed staffing problems were behind the decision.

Layla Moran, MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, called it "extremely concerning".

During the period in which services were suspended, some women were told they had to give birth at the main delivery suite at the John Radcliffe and not at their preferred choice of Oxford Spires Midwifery-led Unit.

However, no women presented who wanted to give birth at home or at a community midwifery-led unit.

'Wake-up call'

Ms Wright said: "We made the clinical decision to suspend home births and midwifery-led services across the county to support a peak in activity at the John Radcliffe Hospital.

"Our staffing situation remains difficult as we are currently still waiting for all our new recruits to be fully ready to join the team.

"This was a clinical decision deemed necessary to maintain safe, high quality one-to-one care for all women."

The situation remains under review, she added.

Lib Dem MP Ms Moran said: "This is extremely concerning news for parents across Oxfordshire who may want a home birth or in a community midwifery-led unit, but I absolutely understand the need for the NHS trust to make the decision in order to be able to give women the care they need in the light of staffing problems."

She described it as a "serious wake-up call for the government and NHS England" and called for an Oxfordshire housing allowance or weighting to "make sure NHS staff can afford to live and work here".

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "Temporary closures in NHS maternity units are well rehearsed safety measures which trusts use to safely manage peaks in admissions."

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