An Update on the Donna Ockenden Maternity Review in Nottingham – February 2023.

Donna Ockenden met with the board of Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (NUH) on Thursday 2 February 2023, for the first time since the launch of the inquiry in September 2022.

It is reported that Ms Ockenden shared the initial feedback she had been receiving from families in the review so far. Communication is said to be one of the main obstacles families have reported experiencing, even recently, over two years since the Trust was held to be ‘inadequate’. Families have stated they are facing a ‘brick wall’ with the Trust, and are unable to get their concerns heard.

Ms Ockenden states the meeting overall was very positive. Chief executive of NUH, Anthony May, reassured the public and the families concerned that he is not awaiting for the review to conclude before making the necessary improvements, and that all feedback will be actioned immediately.

Ms Ockenden’s review was launched in September 2022, and is expected to take a further 12 months. So far 949 families have been contacted as part of the review. The review was launched following an investigation with Channel 4 in 2020, which found evidence of repeated poor care spanning over a decade, and revealed 46 cases of babies who were left with permanent brain damage, 19 still-births and 15 deaths. The NUH Maternity Unit was rated inadequate by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) at this time, with a further warning notice being issued in March 2022, which highlighted specific concerns over the triage services and increased stillbirths; 19 serious incidents had been reported by maternity staff between March 2021 and February 2022.

The Independent reports that in December 2021 a clinical negligence case was settled by Jack and Sarah Hawkins over the loss of their daughter, Harriet, who was born still-born at the maternity unit, for a total of £2.8 million. The main issues identified in an independent report relating to this case echo what was discussed at Thursdays meeting, with identified factors including inadequate processes to support communication of clinical information as well as issues of poor safety culture and a lack of governance in reporting serious clinical incidents.

Ms Ockenden previously led an inquiry into the maternity scandal at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust, and as a result of this Lanyon Bowdler has supported hundreds of families who have been affected by poor maternity care. If you or your family have been affected in this way, please speak to a member of our specialist team.

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