OXFORDSHIRE health bosses were forced to suspend home births and midwifery-led services across the county temporarily due to staffing pressure.

Managers at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust took the decision on Thursday night due to a 'peak in activity at the John Radcliffe Hospital' and a 'difficult' staffing situation.

It is understood that the full suspension was only for the evening, however the trust has said the service will 'remain under review'.

Staff at the Cotswold Birth Centre shared a Facebook post this evening saying it was 'business as usual' but went on to say: "If activity levels are high at the JR and they require the support of community midwifery teams, births will be facilitated at the JR."

For the time being it seems expectant mums may or may not be able to give birth at the community midwifery-led units at Wallingford, Wantage or Chipping Norton community hospital or the Horton General Hospital in Banbury, if those midwives are needed in Oxford.

Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla 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.

“This is a serious wake-up call for the Government and NHS England, and follows scares about staff shortages in other parts of our county’s NHS and social care system in recent months.

"Years of funding cuts, pay restraints and the impact of Brexit are really impacting on front line services.

“The Health Secretary Matt Hancock must wake up and smell the coffee about what is happening in our NHS. Ministers must ensure the NHS gets the funding it needs as quickly as possible, and do more to stem the local recruitment and retention crisis – including the introduction of an Oxfordshire housing allowance or weighting to make sure NHS staff can afford to live and work here.”

Rosalie Wright, director of midwifery at the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Last night, 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 is being kept under regular review, but we hope to be able to support women wishing to use our midwifery-led units or wanting a home birth whenever possible.

“No women presented last night who wanted to give birth in a community MLU or at home, however a small number of women were not able to have their first choice of birthing at the Spires unit.

They were instead supported through our main delivery suite at the John Radcliffe Hospital which has a room with a pool.”

In a further clarification from a trust spokeswoman, she said: "The situation will be kept under review, however, wherever possible we will endeavour to support women wishing to use our MLUs or to give birth at home."

Community midwife teams are based at:




Chipping Norton 


Oxford City 






Community midwifery-led units, all with water birth facilities are at:

Cotswold Birth Centre, Chipping Norton

Horton Midwifery-led Unit

Wallingford Maternity and Birthing Centre

Wantage Maternity Unit

There is no obstetric cover for these units - women requiring obstetric intervention are transferred to the John Radcliffe Hospital, accompanied by a midwife.

You can contact community midwives via the hospitals or your GP.

Community Midwives Office, Level 7: 01865 221696 
Monday to Thursday 9.00am - 2.00pm (no answerphone)

Blenheim Team Midwives: 01865 220457 (answerphone)

Isis Team Midwives: 01865 779284 (answerphone)

For urgent maternity advice, contact the Maternity Assessment Unit: 01865 220221.