Families call for new chair of Nottinghamshire maternity services inquiry to turn down the role

Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham

Families affected by poor maternity services in Nottinghamshire say they have been "further traumatised" by a shake up to a review into potential failings.

In a statement today, the families say the changes to the inquiry into maternity services at Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH), which include the appointment of a new chair, has left them feeling "severely let down, confused, and further traumatised."

The review of maternity incidents, complaints and concerns has been commissioned by NHS England, the local CCG and NHS Improvement, and will be chaired by a senior NHS manager called Julie Dent.

But the families are calling for an independent review, led by senior midwife Donna Ockenden, who just led the review into maternity services in Shropshire.

The Ockenden report found 201 babies and nine mothers could have survived if an NHS trust had provided better care Credit: PA

The statement from the families goes on to say they were not consulted about the changes to the review, which they say "demonstrates a lack of willingness to properly engage with the families affected and is at odds with what is needed from a truly independent review."

They go on to add, "in fact, since we went public with our grave concerns over the current review - nearly 3 weeks ago - not one person from NUH, the CCG nor NHSEI has been in contact with us. 

"We are heartened to have support on Twitter supporting our serious misgivings regarding the appointment process and choice of chair, Julie Dent."

They say they welcome the offer by the Secretary of State to meet with him to discuss ongoing issues and the need for "a truly independent review" but go on to urge Julie Dent "to strongly consider her appointment."

Who is Julie Dent?

Julie Dent Credit: NHS

According to the letter from NHS England and NHS Improvement, Julie Dent has experience of holding several chief executive, chair and non-executive positionsacross the NHS and wider public and third sector roles.

The letter reads that she comes equipped with the skills, leadership and knowledge to provide an expert, independent assessment of the care previously provided.

And how best to ensure improvements are made to the quality, safety and overall standard of care provided to the women, partners and babies at Nottingham University Hospitals.

What does the NHS say?

The letter sent to families, reads: "We have listened carefully to the concerns raised by local families about the leadership, pace and methodology of this review.

"Following discussions at both a regional and national level, it is clear that urgent changes to how the review is being delivered need to be made.

"A new chair needs to lead this review with sufficient senior experience to address the concerns and challenges faced at Nottingham University Hospitals, to speed up the process and to deliver a review that can bring about real change for women and babies in Nottingham.

"It has therefore been agreed that the review will now have enhanced national oversight by NHS England and NHS Improvement and I am pleased to announce that Julie Dent CBE has agreed to take on the role of chair for this review and she will begin this work with immediate effect."

What will the review do?

According to the letter, the review will seek to specifically address issues at Nottingham University Hospitals.

And, building on the work to date, the review team will consider what changes are needed to the methodology and Terms of Reference.

This will be to "ensure that families are listened to and able to see how their own experiences of poor care are being used to drive forward improvements in their local maternity service."

Nottinghamshire CCG issued the following response to the families' comments about the review and the appointment of Julie Dent:

"Julie Dent, a well-respected and senior NHS leader, to further strengthen the ongoing work to review and improve maternity services on behalf of local families in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.

"We would like to give the review team due credit for all their work to date and we are extremely grateful for the support of mothers and families, who have helped to set the direction of the review, and continue to provide valuable feedback, experience and opinions that will help to bring about meaningful changes to local maternity services.”