A MATERNITY unit in Wantage has finally reopened after more than a year of closure due to ‘staffing constraints’.

Wantage Maternity unit and Cotswold Birth centre in Chipping Norton, both run by Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH), were closed to families for low-risk births in August 2021 due to staffing issues.

Despite campaigns from councillors and residents, the opening date kept being pushed back which the unit expecting to have opened in March last year.

READ MORE: Maternity units that have been closed for over a year have finally reopened

However, having worked with regional NHS colleagues, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), and Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee (HOSC), the trust now has a safe level of staffing to provide safe care at these units.

Jenny Hannaby county councillor for Grove and Wantage, who chairs the Wantage Community Hospital’s League of Friends, said she is ‘absolutely delighted’ the unit has reopened.

The campaign group had just raised money to refurbish the unit before it closed which Mrs Hannaby said was a ‘disappointment’ but is now pleased local families can now use the service again.

“It has been a long 18 months,” she said. “Especially for local mothers who want to give birth locally rather than travelling to other hospitals so all in all we’re absolutely excited.

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“This has been a real Wantage community effort to get this reopened. We’re really pleased because of course we’re a growing town and we have a lot of young couples coming into our area and we really need these services locally.”

Catherine Greenwood, clinical director for maternity at the trust, said: "We are really pleased to be able to offer greater birth choices for parents with the reopening of our Midwifery-led Units (MLUs) in Wantage and Chipping Norton.

"We appreciate that these two units have been temporarily closed for a long time, and we apologise wholeheartedly to the families who were impacted by this and anyone unable to give birth in their preferred location.

"Any decisions about service provision are made with patient and staff safety being the number one priority, and we know from the national picture that there will be future challenges related to workforce.

“We are committed to delivering the safest care possible, and we have been frustrated at not being able to provide the full service that we have wanted to.

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"Thank you to my colleagues at all levels who have worked so hard to reintroduce full maternity services at OUH and for maintaining one-to-one care standards during a difficult time."

Mrs Hannaby now hopes the campaign group can ‘add pressure’ to the trust to start a consultation to reinstate beds into the main hospital unit.


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This story was written by Gee Harland. She joined the team in 2022 as a senior multimedia reporter.

Gee covers Abingdon, Didcot, Wallingford and Wantage.

Get in touch with her by emailing: gee.harland@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @geeharland