Ockenden maternity review to consider cases dating back to 2012

Donna Ockenden will start an independent review into maternity care in Nottingham (credit Local Democracy Reporting Service)
By Anna Whittaker, Local Democracy Reporter

A review examining care failings in Nottingham’s maternity units will consider cases dating back as far as 2012, it has been confirmed.

The terms of reference for Donna Ockenden’s review of maternity at Nottingham University Hospitals’ Trust have been published today (September 19).

The terms, published by NHS England, sets out the limits of responsibility for the review team and determine the precise limits of the process.

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

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.

It follows the deaths of dozens of babies while in the care of maternity services at the Queen’s Medical Centre and Nottingham City Hospital. The standards of the trust’s care has been criticised by coroners and inspectors following a number of the incidents, and some families have been awarded compensation following legal action.

Jack and Sarah Hawkins, whose baby Harriet died in 2016 at Nottingham City Hospital, met with Ms Ockenden today and said: “It’s really reassuring we feel involved in the process.

“We feel really heard and believed by Donna. The terms of reference are appropriate and far reaching  – covering harm to mums and children and mental health.

“They will look to uncover what has been going on at NUH.

“The term of reference will be periodically reviewed too which is great if we want to have input.

“It is so very different from the previous review.”

The terms of reference document stated: “The purpose of the review remains to ensure timely learning, action and improvements in the safety and quality of the maternity care provided.

“Cases in the scope of the review will include clinical incidents where mothers and/or babies have suffered severe harm or death.”

The review will engage with families, current and former staff, local, regional and national stakeholders and regulators.

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 said last week the review team has already had more than 350 emails, letters and calls since the review started.

The process will be based on an ‘open book’ approach – as used in a previous review of maternity services at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust.

The Trust will be asked to provide the review team with “a large amount of information” including cases in the following five categories: stillbirths, neonatal deaths, babies diagnosed with Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy, maternal death and severe maternal harm.

Maternity services at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the Queen’s Medical Centre and City Hospital, are rated ‘inadequate’ by inspectors the Care Quality Commission.

The only and final review report will be published and presented to Nottingham University Hospitals and NHS England – the review’s commissioners – in around March 2024.

The NHS England document read: “The review team will contact families to ask for their consent to be involved in the review. The wishes of families, whether to be involved in the review, (or not) will be completely respected by the maternity review team.

“We ask all families whose experience falls into one (or more) of the 5 categories above to  please contact us via email: [email protected]

“If your maternity experience is outside of these 5 categories, we will still be able to consider your case, and important learning from your case can be used to improve maternity care at the Trust.”

There is also a contact form on the website http://www.donnaockenden.com.

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