Specialist maternity unit 'not closing'

Hospital bosses insist rumours a specialist Oxford maternity unit is closing aren't true.

They say the Silver Star service at the John Radcliffe Hospital is merely moving floors for a few weeks during the summer, like it did last year, so they make best use of the staff and space they have.

The Silver Star service looks after mums-to-be who have high-risk pregnancies or suffer complications.

It is normally based on Level 6 of the Women's Centre at the John Radcliffe, but it will be moved to Level 5 over the summer, when the number of available midwives normally drops as many take time off to spend some of the school holidays with their children.

The Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals Trust say the move will enable them to better manage the number of mums-to-be being looked after by the John Radcliffe - including those in the Silver Star service.

The ORHT insist the midwife to patient ratio will remain 'safe' and inpatients will continue to be treated by the same team of midwives and consultants, just in a different location.

Gill Walton, Director of Midwifery, said: "Every summer we do reduce the number of beds we have open.  I want to reassure women using both our Silver Star service for mothers who have high-risk pregnancies, and all other mothers hoping to deliver over the summer, that their safe care is our top priority and will not be compromised."

Similar rumours were spread in summer 2009, when the Silver Star unit was temporarily moved to Level 5.  It returned to Level 6 in September.