Ockenden maternity review already of a ‘very large scale’ in first two weeks

City Hospital in Nottingham (Credit LDRS)
By Anna Whittaker, Local Democracy Reporter

The new Nottingham maternity review is already of a “very large scale” just a fortnight after it began, senior midwife Donna Ockenden says.

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

Yesterday (September 13) the terms of reference for the review set out that it will consider incidents at Nottingham Queen’s Medical Centre and City Hospital dating back to 2012.

The process follows the deaths and injury of dozens of babies during or shortly after birth in the maternity departments at both hospitals.

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

Ms Ockenden led a previous review into Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust’s maternity services, which found 201 babies and nine mothers might have survived if they had received better maternity care there.

The experienced midwife told the Local Democracy Reporting Service on September 14: “We are now starting a review that is of a very large scale indeed.

“Well over 400 families have contacted us directly but what we mustn’t forget is potentially over 600 families contacted the previous review which closed.

“Any family who was a part of the former review, they are automatically a  member of this review if they want to be.”

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

The review will consider cases from 1 April 2012 – and in exceptional cases, experiences from April 2006 to March 2021 will be considered if they “may add significantly to the review’s findings”.

Ms Ockenden explained: “We know NUH look after about 10,000 women a year so 10 years of cases is 100,000 families.

“What is really important is that the work we do is in sufficient detail and helps NUH to improve in the here and now.

“The further back you go, the larger the number of cases you undertake, you run a risk of having so many cases you can’t see the themes coming through.”

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

Ms Ockenden said she explained to families how she will ensure that “no voices are left behind”.

She said: “Conversations went well, I think families are relieved that the review is underway.

“Yesterday there was a gratefulness that families and staff are being listened to.

“The overriding theme from families was, what happened to us must not be allowed to happen to other families.”

The trust will also be asked to share information on families who have suffered a stillbirth, neonatal death, significant brain damage, mothers who have died and mothers who suffered severe harm.

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

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

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

“Every piece of information that is coming into the review is being personally read. If we can ask people to bear with us with the large volume of correspondence that we’re getting.”

Inspectors the Care Quality Commission currently rate maternity at NUH as ‘inadequate’.

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

In an open letter published on the day, Mr May said: “I am determined to deliver the improvements needed in 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 I look forward to working collaboratively with Donna, as part of our wider improvement programme.

“While there is more to do, I have been impressed by the hard work, dedication and expertise of the teams I have met across NUH.”

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