By Anna Whittaker, Local Democracy Reporter
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has met members of Nottinghamshire County Council to discuss their calls for a public inquiry into maternity services at Nottingham’s two main hospitals.
Mr Javid met Councillor Sue Saddington (Con) on November 12 alongside Councillor Matt Barney (Con) to accept a letter outlining their concerns.
Cllr Saddington, who chairs the council’s health scrutiny committee says “enough is enough” following a series of baby deaths and injuries at the Queen’s Medical Centre and Nottingham City Hospital, where maternity services are currently rated ‘inadequate’.
Both hospitals are run by Nottinghamshire University Hospitals Trust,
In an earlier letter to Mr Javid, Cllr Saddington wrote that it is time for “the old guard to stand aside” to make way for new leadership at the trust and enable it to “return to being a centre of excellence”.
She added recent updates on the trust’s progress to improve maternity services are “the clearest possible indication that the current NUH leadership will not be able to deliver improvement with the speed and vigour that are required”.
She wrote: “My Committee will continue to hold NUH to account for the services it provides, however, I believe that there is sufficient public concern for a full public inquiry to be launched into the historic failures of NUH maternity services. The purpose of the inquiry would be to ensure that the Trust does not ever again allow its maternity services to decline to this extent.
“I respectfully request that you initiate an inquiry. One of the first things to determine will be how far back the inquiry investigates. Former staff have drawn attention in the media to the shortcomings of NUH leadership, for example, Senior Midwife Sue Brydon, who may be key in determining these historic parameters.”
Nottingham University Hospitals Trust is also rated requires improvement overall.
Cllr Michelle Welsh (Lab) has also put forward a motion to full council this week calling for an independent government inquiry, seconded by councillor Penny Gowland (Lab).
Nottingham parents Jack and Sarah Hawkins, whose baby Harriet was stillborn in April 2016, are also backing the calls.
NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSEI) are currently carrying out their own review into “maternity incidents, complaints and concerns” at the trust – but Cllr Welsh said this was not enough.
Cllr Saddington added in a statement: “I am pleased to say that our concerns have been put in a letter to the Health Secretary and, at a recent event, he assured both myself and Councillor Barney that this would be referred to the Health Minister and dealt with accordingly.
“The maternity services issue at NUH is one we feel needs urgent attention and I am delighted that the Health Minister will be looking into it immediately and responding to our public inquiry request.”
Chief Nurse for Nottingham University Hospitals, Michelle Rhodes, said in a statement issued last week: “We are doing everything in our power to ensure that the families using our services get the best possible care and are fully co-operating with the on-going independent review.”