Largest UK Review of Maternity Care Failings Initiated in Nottingham Hospitals

Published on 12 Jul 2023

An independent review into failings in maternity care in Nottingham will now become the UK's largest ever carried out in the UK with 1,700 families' experiences to be examined.

The inquiry will be led by Donna Ockenden, who previously headed the probe into services at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust in Shropshire (SaTH), which previously was the biggest maternity scandal ever to affect the NHS.

Ms Ockendens’ review will focus on the maternity units at Nottingham University Hospital (NUH) NHS Trust's Queen's Medical Centre and City Hospital. The review comes after numerous instances of baby deaths and injuries at the trust. So far, 674 families have given their consent to join the review, which has shifted from an "opt-in" to an "opt-out" basis following requests from affected families. NUH has acknowledged the need to rebuild trust and plans to issue a public apology.

The review is a colossal undertaking, examining cases involving 1,700 families who had experienced stillbirth, neonatal deaths, brain damage to the baby, harm to mothers or relatives of mothers who died. The sheer amount of families involved highlights the magnitude of the problem and emphasises the need for a thorough investigation.

The review follows previous concerns raised about similar failings identified in SaTH in Shropshire, where it was identified that better care could have saved the lives of at least 201 babies and mothers. There are fears that similar findings may be identified with NUH.

The review's chair, Donna Ockenden, stressed the importance of achieving representation from diverse communities in the review process. Efforts are underway to ensure that women from all backgrounds feel confident in coming forward and participating. The low response rate among certain communities, such as black and Asian women, underscores the need for targeted outreach and engagement.

While positive changes have been observed in response to family accounts, the review team has acknowledged that the journey to address all issues cannot be resolved overnight. The commitment to transparency expressed by NUH is seen as a significant step forward by families who have long fought for their voices to be heard. The successful inclusion of over 95% of affected families in the previous review in Shropshire provides a benchmark for the Nottingham review.

Overall, this review into maternity care failings in Nottingham hospitals aims to identify past mistakes, rebuild trust, and ensure that all affected families - regardless of background - have a voice in the process. The goal is to learn from these incidents and make substantial improvements to maternity services, with the ultimate aim of preventing similar tragedies in the future.

Lanyon Bowdler’s specialist Clinical Negligence Department are representing hundreds of families affected by the SaTH maternity scandal, and have worked extensively with the Ockenden review team to uncover the truth as to what happened in Shropshire’s maternity services.

Beth Heath, partner and head of clinical negligence, said, “It is a terrible tragedy that just over 12 months from the report into the SaTH maternity scandal, the NHS now faces a further scandal of seemingly worse proportions. Families need to have their voices heard, and it is vitally important that NUH and the NHS are completely transparent and accountable throughout this process”

If you wish to speak to Lanyon Bowdler’s specialist team, please email: or phone 0800 652 3371.

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