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Chipping Norton maternity unit: Mothers criticise review findings
MOTHERS who received care from a Chipping Norton maternity unit have condemned a report criticising the service it provides.
Oxford University Hospitals Trust board yesterday responded to a review of services at the Cotswold Maternity Unit (CMU), carried out after births were suspended in October last year.
The report found that midwives had frequently kept women at the unit who, according to the policies of the Oxford University Hospitals Trust (OUHT), should have been transferred elsewhere.
But last might a number of mothers who used the unit condemned the report.
Kate Barlow, 41, of Hook Norton, had one child at the former Chipping Norton Maternity Unit and three at home under the care of the CMU.
She said: “In a word, I would say the report is a whitewash. It completely failed to mention the two midwives who have been removed.
“I think the way it casts doubt on the way the old unit was run is completely unacceptable and completely unwarranted.
“It is a great way of creating a smokescreen to distract people from the current issues.”
Kim Murray, 31, had her daughter Bella, now 22 months old, at Banbury’s Horton Hospital in 2011. But she received all her antenatal care from the Chipping Norton unit.
She said: “The staff went over and above the guidelines, but this is seen as a bad thing. They are focusing on the concerns of the staff and the trust, but not on the mothers and babies. They should be the primary concern.”
The decision to allow the OUHT’s head of midwifery Jane Hervé to write the report has also been criticised, but the trust said the decision was approved by the county’s health overview and scrutiny committee.
The trust has refused to comment on the claims two midwives were suspended for raising concerns about the unit.
The Maternity Service Liaison Committee is a forum for maternity service users.
Chairman of the unit’s branch Jennifer Lanham had two home births and one baby at The Horton Hospital in Banbury under the supervision of the old Chipping Norton unit.
She said: “I think this is a really misleading report, exactly what you might expect from an internal investigator.”
It comes after Frances Barnsley, who ran the now defunct Chipping Norton Maternity Unit for 10 years until her retirement in 2009, broke her silence to defend the work of the unit under her stewardship.
Mrs Barnsley, 66, said: “They’re saying that midwives were working outside guidelines, but there will always be women who want to birth outside the guidelines and we were very careful to give them informed advice and choice on the matter.
“If a mother who has had nine babies before, the guidelines say she should be referred. But if she says she wants to have her baby somewhere, that’s her choice.
“I suspect maybe the confidence of the midwives in looking after normal births wasn’t as high after the move to the new centre as it was before.”
It has also been reported that two whistle-blowers, who raised concerns about working practices in the newer unit, were fired.
Mrs Barnsley said: “There were two midwives who raised concerns about working practices and they were removed. The unit wouldn’t have closed if they had been listened to.”
Views from review report
‘There seems to be a rule for working for them and another for others. The midwives don’t feel they have to conform to normal working practices.’
‘I had, and I quote from my notes, a perineum second degree tear and was sutured with vicryl. This was carried out without anaesthetic.’
‘We left the unit, still shaking and in shock from what had been a very traumatic birth.’
‘When I presented at the hospital, the admitting midwife insisted that I had come in too early and suggested that my husband take me home. After my speedy second delivery, I didn't want to risk a write-up about the baby delivered on the A361 somewhere between Shipton-under-Wychwood and Chipping Norton, so decided to stay put. When I asked for a codeine-based painkiller, which I had been given following my first and second deliveries, I was offered a choice of paracetamol or ibuprofen. When neither of these made a significant impact on the pain, I asked again for something stronger, but was refused.
‘I think the trust should be ashamed of the fact that in under two years they have taken a country-leading midwife unit and through their mismanagement destroyed its reputation.’
‘There is a really positive feeling here, I felt like a person here as compared to a battery hen at the hospitals and human care, care everyone should have.’
‘In the sprawl of the NHS it is very easy for maternity services to become impersonalised with little or no continuity of care. Chipping Norton is the complete opposite in that it offers a safe haven for women when they are at their most vulnerable.’