Families affected by Nottingham University Hospitals maternity care failings urge Ockenden review

Sarah and Jack Hawkins tell ITV News Central they want Donna Ockenden to lead an independent review.

A group of 100 families affected by alleged failings in maternity care at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust have written to the Health Secretary Sajid Javid, voicing their concerns over an ongoing review being led by local health bosses.

Sarah and Jack Hawkins lost their daughter Harriet in April 2016, and are among the families calling for a full public inquiry into the Trust.

The number of families now wanting to take part in the current review has quadrupled in recent weeks to 387.

In the letter sent to the government, families said they wanted to see midwife Donna Ockenden lead an independent review - after she released her damning report into maternity care at hospitals in Shropshire last week.

In an Interview with ITV News Central, Dr Jack Hawkins said: "There is a real problem we've known this for a long time and what we haven't been able to find out is just how many and the numbers are going up.

"Donna Ockenden knows how to conduct one of these reviews. She will hit the ground running, she's got expertise, she's got an experienced big team with everything that they need to do this review well."

The families affected by alleged maternity failures at Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) have written to the Health Secretary.

They have criticised the thematic review of maternity incidents currently under way at NUH, which they said is “moving with the viscosity of treacle”.

They have asked Sajid Javid to put in charge maternity expert Ms Ockenden, who recently delivered the damning report into Shrewsbury and Telford hospital NHS Trust – the UK’s biggest maternity scandal, which saw more than 200 baby deaths.

The families said they have no confidence in the current review process or those leading it, and feel they must speak out about their concerns now “if there is any chance of preventing more death and harm to babies, mothers, and families”.

In the letter to Mr Javid, the group said: “Historically there have been reviews, nothing has changed.

“Coroners have publicly raised concerns, nothing has changed.

“If families are to be safeguarded, real and impactful intervention is required.

“The thematic review so far has been less than impactful, understaffed and moving with the viscosity of treacle.

“How can the public have faith in this process? The only answer is Donna Ockenden and a public inquiry.”

The current thematic review, looking at data from 2006 when the NUH trust was formed until mid-October 2021, was initiated for several reasons, but mainly due to families raising concerns about their cases, according to the review’s website.

It is being led by the local clinical commissioning group (CCG) and NHS England, and is expected to be completed by November 2022.

The probe is being conducted after dozens of babies died or suffered brain damage in recent years.

The families have questioned the independence of the probe, which has been commissioned by two former employees of NUH, and the experience of the leadership to handle a review of this magnitude.

They said not enough has been done to promote the review or reach out to new families in order to fully understand the extent of the failings.

The families said: “If we consider that in six months only 26 families have been spoken to, how can the public have faith that the other 361 families will not only be listened to, but purposeful conclusions made?

“It will either be rushed or drag on, whereas Donna Ockenden has the team, and a public inquiry has definitive timelines. The affected families and general public deserve that certainty.”

Maternity units run by the NUH trust have been rated as inadequate by the Care Quality Commission since 2020.

Nottingham’s thematic review team said it was best placed to move forward concerns at pace and see the changes needed for the communities and people living in Nottingham. 

NUH said it has already made progress in maternity care and would await national guidance on the Ockenden report.