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Donna Ockenden puts families at heart of her review into inadequate maternity services at Nottingham University Hospitals Trust

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Senior midwife Donna Ockenden says families will be at the heart of a new review into Nottingham’s inadequate maternity services.

She visited Nottingham ahead of chairing her own independent review into Nottingham University Hospitals Trust (NUH), where maternity units are rated inadequate by inspectors and dozens of babies have died or been injured.

On July 11 she also met a number of harmed families ahead of reviewing the services provided at both the Queen’s Medical Centre and City Hospital.

Donna Ockenden (57913473)
Donna Ockenden (57913473)

The review will officially start in September and is expected to last around 18 months ­— depending on the number of families who come forward.

Donna 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.

Her appointment as chairman of the Nottingham review comes at a time when NUH is under intense scrutiny over the quality of its maternity services.

Inspectors the Care Quality Commission (CQC) currently grade the services inadequate.

The trust as a whole is also rated as requires improvement.

Donna Ockenden’s new review supersedes the previous NHS Clinical Commissioning Group review into the service, which was disbanded in June after being criticised by some harmed families and politicians in the county.

A number of families met former health secretary Sajid Javid before it was confirmed by NHS England that Donna Ockenden would carry out a Nottingham review.

She told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “The review will be thorough, it will be comprehensive. It will have family voices at the heart of it, staff will feel engaged and it absolutely will lead to meaningful change on the ground, for the better.

“I’ve always said it’s a huge honour that the families wanted me to be here. That’s a big first step.

“Clearly we’ve got a lot of work to undertake. The recent CQC report into both sites made really stark and sobering reading.

“The review will also be about ensuring that we work with the trust to ensure changes on the ground happen in a timely way and they are maintained.”

One of the families who met with Donna Ockenden was Jack and Sarah Hawkins, whose baby Harriet was stillborn in 2016 at City Hospital.

They said: “We felt listened to, reassured and involved. Any worries we raised with her, she had an entirely reasonable answer for.

“The team she described is amazing, a comprehensive group of people.”

When asked how it felt to have Donna Ockenden on board, they responded: “It’s nice ­— but we are aware that Harriet isn’t here.

“This allows us to start to grieve. It feels odd, it feels new and long overdue. It should have happened six years ago.”

Donna Ockenden added: “Clearly, a key component of any independent maternity review is to have the confidence of the affected families, and then the confidence of the local population, and then the confidence of the staff who are working on the ground in the trust.

“That is my absolutely aim to achieve all of those at all times.”

NUH director of midwifery Sharon Wallis said: “Our aim is to offer the best maternity care to the families using our services, and to do this we are committed to supporting the review team’s work, which alongside the work of our own improvement team will ensure we do everything necessary to learn and improve.”

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