A TEMPORARY downgrade of the Horton General Hospital's maternity unit is now likely to remain in place until beyond March, bosses have said.

Not enough doctors have been recruited, meaning the unit cannot be stepped back up to a consultant-led service as early as hoped.

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said the situation would be kept 'under review'.

It means women who have complications while giving birth will continue to be transferred to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. 

The unit was changed from being doctor-led to midwife-led in October after the trust said it did not have enough doctors.

Nine doctors are needed, it said, and currently only three are in post.

Since July 2016 the trust has accepted job applications from six more doctors.

Only one has started work and two more are still due to start in the new year.

A statement from the trust said: "The suspension was extended until March and it was decided to review the situation again in December after the next round of recruitment and advertising.

"That situation was reviewed again this week and unfortunately, the current number of obstetric doctors remains at three and the maximum number of doctors likely to be in post by March is five, which is not enough to reinstate the service at that point."