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Clashes led to maternity unit closure
A CLASH of working cultures and rifts between staff contributed to the closure of the Cotswold Maternity Unit in Chipping Norton, a report has revealed.
Births at the unit were suspended last October by Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust (OUH), which runs the service, while an internal review into working practices was carried out.
A newly-published report has found there were “significant concerns” about the way things were being run and different working practices between midwives had caused problems. The Chipping Norton Maternity Unit (CNMU) moved to a purposebuilt new base in 2009 and was renamed the Cotswold Maternity Unit (CMU).
The report, which reviewed practice at both units between 2008 and 2012, said some staff claimed there was a “culture of bullying” in both the CNMU and CMU and that “there was evidence that teamwork was poor”.
“It is apparent the two units had very different cultures and previously staff practised in the ‘Chipping Norton way’,” it said.
“This included practice, working hours and workload which differed from national norms. Staff felt the move to the new unit could have been managed differently to ensure all staff were involved. These actions led to problems and the development of complex relationships which in turn led to a breakdown of the team.”
The board, which met last week to discuss the findings, has made 31 recommendations to be implemented and plans to re-open the unit on July 1 – nine months after births were suspended.
But Councillor Hilary Biles, Chipping Norton ward member at Oxfordshire County Council, said the unit had been shut for too long.
“I’m extremely disappointed the unit will be closed for virtually nine months when the midwives are working in the community doing home births,” she said.
Paul Brennan, director of clinical services, said: “The problems that led us to where we are today were very complicated but are being addressed.”
Maternity review fact file:
41 meetings with staff
106 questionnaires sent to women
5 letters received
198 case reviews
46 reviews of transfers
2 reviews of home births
4 questionnaires to GPs
1 meeting with local GPs and health visitor
6 public meetings with 52 people attending