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Rishi Sunak declines to commit to public inquiry into maternity services on visit to Nottinghamshire

While visiting the East Midlands Rishi Sunak declined the opportunity to commit to a public inquiry into maternity services.

The Prime Minister visited Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire on Friday (March 22) as he helped launch the Conservative’s local election campaign.

He was joined by Conservative Councillor and Mansfield MP Ben Bradley, who is in the running to be the first East Midlands Mayor at the May 2 vote.

Rishi Sunak on his visit to the East Midlands. Photo: Local Democracy Reporting Service.
Rishi Sunak on his visit to the East Midlands. Photo: Local Democracy Reporting Service.

During the visit, Mr Sunak was asked about Nottingham University Hospital’s maternity services.

Experienced midwife Donna Ockenden is running what is thought to be the largest review into maternity services in NHS history in Nottingham, involving the cases of 1,813 families.

Nottinghamshire Police is also running a criminal investigation into Nottingham maternity services called Operation Perth, starting in Spring 2024.

It has led many bereaved families to call for a statutory public inquiry into maternity services in England. Other families have also called for a UK-wide inquiry.

Derby and Burton Hospital Trust’s maternity services are currently rated inadequate by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

When asked if he would commit to a public inquiry, Mr Sunak said: “I’m not as familiar with the specific details of what has happened, I was just talking to Ben [Bradley] about it.

“My understanding is that there has been a review of maternity services.

“More generally what we have done is to invest around £150m extra in strengthening maternity services across the country because it is incredibly important.

“We have had incidences in different areas where services have not been at the standard that any of us would expect or that people deserve.

“I’m sure the health trust here will take on board all the recommendations of the report and make sure patients get the care they need.”

Ben Bradley, MP for Mansfield, added: “There’s been an ongoing piece of work through Donna Ockenden and the review, a hugely difficult and emotive issue.

“We know about all the pressures on the wider NHS.

“There is new leadership at Nottingham University Hospitals now, I meet the chief executive and the chairman regularly.

“I think they are very committed to this and it has been much more open and transparent since they came into post, that can only be a good thing.

“In recent weeks some of the warning notices have been removed which is hopefully a sign of improvement. As long as it continues on that trajectory it feels like the leadership at the trust is doing what they can.”

The Prime Minister visited Trent Barton’s bus depot in Langley Mill after the government confirmed £25m funding for 177 electric buses in the East Midlands.

Four councils in the region, including Nottinghamshire County Council, will receive the funding.

On May 2, the public will take to the polls to elect both the East Midlands Mayor and the Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner on the same day.

Claire Ward is representing Labour in the mayoral election and Matthew Relf is standing as an independent. Frank Adlington-Stringer is running to be the Green Party mayor and Alan Graves is representing Reform UK.

Candidates for the Police and Crime Commissioner vote are still being decided but Labour have selected Gary Godden to stand in the poll and Conservative Caroline Henry is the current holder of the post.

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