Dozens of people contact Ockenden review into Nottingham maternity services as process begins

Donna Ockenden
By Anna Whittaker, Local Democracy Reporter

Dozens of people have already contacted a wide-ranging independent review of Nottingham’s maternity services ahead of its official start date on Thursday.

Donna Ockenden is chairing the independent review of Nottingham University Hospitals Trust (NUH), where maternity units are rated ‘inadequate’ by inspectors and dozens of babies have died or been injured.

On September 1, the official start date of the process, Ms Ockenden said there have been “dozens” of emails sent to a new address – which has been set up for families to come forward with experiences of failings at the trust.

A new Chief Executive, Anthony May, starts in the top job at the trust today, and has already said maternity will be a priority.

Ms Ockenden said on Thursday (September 1) there had been “a lot” of people making contact with the confidential inbox, including patients and staff – with “the number going up all of the time”.

The review is expected to last around 18 months – depending on the number of families who come forward.

Ms Ockenden told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “It is a big day for families and for the trust.

“I am continuing to build my team, we have more than 80 midwives and doctors stretching from Newcastle to Cornwall.

“Perhaps you sadly had a poor outcome, or perhaps you and your baby are well now but there were significant issues you are still concerned about – please do get in touch.”

She added that families who were a part of the former NHS thematic review which was scrapped can also be included – and should contact the new email address provided.

Ms Ockenden added: “We will work together to make sure nobody gets left behind, everybody feels listened to, and that we have as our absolute aim timely improvements to the safety of maternity services in Nottingham.”

Also speaking on Thursday, Michelle Rhodes, Chief Nurse for the trust, said the trust is encouraging patients and staff to contact the review team if they wish to.

She said: “We are deeply sorry for the trauma and distress the families have gone through.

“We welcome Donna and her team to Nottingham and our absolute intention is to work alongside her to make the improvements we need to make.

“Our teams in maternity have been under massive pressure. I am glad the review has started, we have known she has been coming for a few months and it’s almost a feeling of anxiety waiting for it to happen.

“We are actively encouraging them, and families across Nottinghamshire, to talk to Donna if they want to.”

There has been further controversy at NUH in recent months, after a leaked maternity memo from the trust’s director of midwifery Sharon Wallis focused on media coverage following an announcement of further details of Ms Ockenden’s review.

And last month, trust director of communications Tiffany Jones was suspended from her role after blocking a number of bereaved families on Twitter.

Ms Rhodes also addressed these issues, adding: “To be absolutely honest with you, we haven’t got our communications with the general public and the families right, and our staff to some extent.

“I can’t talk about the director of communications because it is a confidential HR process, but as far as the Sharon Wallis memo goes, it was a mistake.

“It was something that was put out to try to rally the troops, and it didn’t follow Sharon’s value set at all.

“You’ve got to remember it is part of our job to keep the guys going, and the press and publicity is really difficult. It was poorly written and it shouldn’t have gone out.”

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