BOTH a doctor-led maternity service and one branch of an 18,000-patient GP practice closed their doors in North Oxfordshire today.

The Horton General Hospital in Banbury is now operating a midwife-led maternity unit due to a shortage of middle-grade doctors.

Expectant mums who had planned to give birth at the Horton are advised to contact their GP to decide whether to press ahead or seek treatment elsewhere.

Those whose births are deemed 'high-risk' will need to travel to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, where preparations have been made for an extra 1,000 births a year.

The earliest the decision can be reversed is January this year.

At the same time the Middleton Cheney branch of Horsefair Surgery in Banbury is closing today "for the foreseeable future".

Partners at the practice said that it had given notice to NHS England to terminate its GMS contract after several GPs left due to retirement or ill health.

The letter stated: "While the NHS finds a new contract holder, it will be business as usual at Horsefair Surgery and there will be no break in the services you receive.

"We will not be closing our doors at Southbar House and we will continue to provide services to you until the time comes to hand over smoothly to the new provider of healthcare here at South Bar House, Banbury.

"We will however be closing Middleton Cheney Branch Surgery from Monday 3rd October 2016 – at least for the foreseeable future."

Both changes come 75 years to the day after doctors agreed to invest a substantial sum in a new X-Ray department at the Horton despite wartime budget constraints.

An article published in the Oxford Times on October 3, 1941 notes that the then-Board of Management of the Horton Hospital agreed to spend £2,734 on "essential" equipment that would last for about 10 years.

At the time scales of pay had also reportedly been increased.