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Review of maternity services at Nottingham University Hospitals Trust already on a ‘very large scale’

The new Nottingham Maternity Review is already on a massive scale, just a fortnight after its launch, according to senior midwife Donna Ockenden.

Hundreds of families have already come forward to share their experiences of care at Nottingham University Hospitals’ Trust (NUH).

The terms of reference for the review yesterday (September 13) said it would look into incidents at Nottingham Queen’s Medical Center and the City Hospital dating back to 2012.

Donna Ockenden (58748917)

The process follows the deaths and injuries of dozens of babies during or shortly after birth in the maternity wards of the two hospitals.

Donna Ockenden officially started the review on September 1 after bereaved families called on the Health Secretary for an urgent change and a previous NHS review was dropped.

She led an earlier review of Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust maternity services, which found 201 babies and nine mothers could have survived if they had received better maternity care there.

The experienced midwife told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: ‘We are now embarking on a review which is indeed on a very large scale.

“Well over 400 families contacted us directly, but what we need to remember is that potentially over 600 families contacted the previous review that ended.

“Any family that was in the old journal is automatically a member of that journal if they want to.”

The review is expected to take 18 months, depending on the number of families who come forward.

The review will consider cases from April 1, 2012 – and in exceptional cases, experiences from April 2006 to March 2021 will be considered if they “can make a significant contribution to the findings of the review”.

Ms Ockenden explained: ‘We know that NUH cares for around 10,000 women a year, so ten years of cases is 100,000 families.

“What’s really important is that the work we do is detailed enough and helps NUH improve here and now.

“The further back you go, the more cases you take on, you run the risk of having so many cases that you can’t see the themes coming through.”

On September 13, Donna Ockenden met with families and community groups, including the Nottingham Muslim Women’s Network and the Zephyr’s Voluntary Project, which supports people who have suffered pregnancy loss or the death of a baby or child .

She Ockenden said she explained to the families how she would ensure “no voice is left behind”.

She said: ‘Conversations have gone well, I think the families are relieved that the review is underway.

Yesterday there was gratitude that families and staff are listened to.

“The overriding theme of the families was that what happened to us should not happen to other families.”

The trust will also be asked to share information about families who have suffered stillbirths, neonatal deaths, significant brain damage, deceased mothers and mothers who have suffered serious harm.

But Donna Ockenden added: “Even if families feel they don’t fit these five categories, they can tell the review team about experiences that may have concerned them.

“They can go to our website and there is a contact form on our page. It’s really simple.

“Every email is read and everyone will receive a personal response.

“Every piece of information that goes into the review is read personally. If we can ask people to support us with the large volume of correspondence we receive.”

Care Quality Commission inspectors currently rate maternity at NUH as inadequate.

Hospital leaders are working on an improvement plan and the trust appointed a new chief executive, Anthony May, on September 1.

In an open letter published the same day, Mr May said: ‘I am committed to making the necessary improvements to maternity services, building on the work of our Maternity Improvement Programme.’

He added: “I would like to welcome Donna and her team to Nottingham and look forward to working alongside Donna, as part of our wider improvement programme.

“While there is still much to do, I have been impressed with the hard work, dedication and expertise of the teams I have encountered across NUH.”

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