HEALTH bosses have again been accused of a “lack of transparency” over a closed maternity unit in Chipping Norton.
Four months after births were suspended at the Cotswold Maternity Unit, bosses still cannot say when it will reopen or exactly what closed it.
Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust was grilled during an update at the county’s joint health overview and scrutiny committee yesterday.
The unit was closed in October and the trust launched a review after concerns were raised about a high number of transfer rates to other hospitals.
Following the closure, an online petition claimed two midwives had been suspended from the unit after raising concerns about work practices and safety.
Hilary Biles, county councillor for Chipping Norton, criticised a “lack of transparency” about the issue.
She said: “I just want an end date with some consultation about what is going to happen.
“If there had been good management in place when these issues were raised by these two midwives, I don’t think we would be in this situation.
“The lack of management at that level was then transferred up the ladder and I think the management further up was remiss in handling this.”
Kate Barlow, who had four children at the unit, said: “I want reassurances that the review will look into the failings of the management teams in the trust that allowed this to happen.
“Taxpayers’ money has been invested in this fantastic facility and it’s not being used. We’re being denied our right to these facilities.”
Councillor Jenny Hannaby said: “This is like something out of a BBC drama.
“I really cannot understand why you could not have put a team in place in the unit, like they do in schools, to keep it open while you do the review.”
The trust’s director of planning and information, Andrew Stevens, said: “There were concerns raised by parents and staff, and others, about the unit, that was coupled with the fact the transfer rate from the unit was above what would be expected for such a unit.
“The reasons are complex, but are covered by the culture of the unit, the unit’s operation and management issues.
“The team was not operating the unit as a cohesive team.”
He added: “We felt it was too complex a situation to change by simply a change of personnel.
“Given the issues raised, we needed to undertake a thorough review and the best way to address the issues was to suspend births.”
He said the completed review would be taken to the trust’s board on March 13 and would recommend reopening the maternity unit.