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GPs could be asked to do C-sections under proposals to retain maternity unit

GPs should be given additional training to perform caesarean sections, according to new proposals for maternity services in an Oxfordshire hospital. 

This suggestion is one of nine considered by a scrutiny committee today, and follows the downgrading of maternity services at Horton General Hospital in Oxfordshire last year from consultant-led to midwife-led.

GPs called the proposal ‘absolutely astonishing’, and said that while they are often ‘inappropriately used to plug holes’, this suggestion was absurd. 

The Horton Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC), which met this afternoon, considered a number of new proposals to meet local demand for maternity services.

This followed Oxfordshire CCG's decision to permanently downgrade maternity services at Horton General Hospital from a consultant-led to midwife-led unit, due to staff shortages.

The HOSC was set up to allow representatives from all catchment areas to re-examine the evidence used by the CCG and Oxford University NHS Trust when making this decision, and consider new proposals for maternity services.

The committee papers, spotted by the Banbury Guardian and discussed at a meeting today, outlined the different proposals including training local GPs to perform caesareans.

It said: ‘There would be obstetric units at the John Radcliffe Hospital and Horton General Hospital and the staffing model at the Horton General Hospital would be specialist GPs (local GPs given extra training to be able to perform caesarean sections) with access to on-call support from the John Radcliffe Hospital.’

But local GPs said this proposal ‘reaches a whole new level of absurdity’.

Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire LMC chief executive officer Dr Matt Mayer said: ‘Proposing that GPs should be performing caesarean sections is absolutely astonishing.

‘Already across the NHS, GPs are inappropriately used to plug holes in the system caused by ever deeper cuts, but this proposal reaches a whole new level of absurdity. What next? GPs doing hip replacements? Open heart surgery?’

Dr Mayer said that the NHS needs to be funded ‘realistically and seriously’ rather than wasting money on ‘ridiculous schemes such as this one’.

He added: ‘GPs have enough workload and liability of their own without being asked to also perform major surgical operations’.

A spokesperson for Oxfordshire CCG said: 'The Horton Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee has been set up to look at all possible options for the future of maternity services at the Horton General Hospital in Banbury to provide the best possible care to people in North Oxfordshire and the surrounding areas.' 

Readers' comments (44)

  • Does anyone else get the feeling that in the rush to meet local (and more widespread) demands the policy makers are being hasty and wholly unrealistic? Stinks of desperation to stem the leaking hull of a sinking ship. Orthopaedic or colo-rectal ie elbow or arse?

    I also recall that the graduates of their local University (ie Oxford) are still shunning general practise as a career. Maybe someone should send them a link to the Pulse article on this. Cheeky bas...ds.

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  • One assumes the "mega brain" that came up this pile utter bilge managed to think coherently enough to have a cunning plan so the patient may be anaesthetised before said GP could undertake the C-Section??

    Made my day, better than all phone lines crashing and work drying up!

    Which it genuinely has.

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  • Are they insane! Obviously never been there when one goes wrong....

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  • omnipotent gp can do c section in 10 minute consultation specially if he/she is single handed gp like I was.
    gp could be asked to do c section and why not other surgery like appendectomy

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  • Bring it on !!, 3 months crash course for GPs doing operations and 3 month crash course for specialists doing GP work
    I can see the specialists lining up to flee first after 3 months

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  • Weirdly I would be more competent to take this on than a lot of other things I keep being told that GPs are best placed to do...might need a double appointment though

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  • Not often I am rendered speechless. Jaimie Kaffash - Could I please suggest an annual Health Service Management Ignoble award for the most stupid management idea, and nominate this for the first award

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  • doctordog.

    One for my PLP.

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  • I’m old enough to remember the GP on Neighbours doing brain surgery on one of her patients...maybe we should start with that?

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  • Jones the Tie

    brilliant.. ooh and we'll do the anaesthetic/spinal anaesthetic as well I assume ?

    I would suggest the 'extra training' would be completion of an STR proramme and the MRCOG as minimum... mind you I always like to squeeze in a nasal hypophysectomy after morning surgery so hard can this be!! FFS is it me..what planet are these folk on..tossers

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