New chair of Nottingham maternity review steps down for 'personal reasons'

The chairwoman of the review into alleged failures in the NHS maternity unit in Nottingham has stepped down nearly two weeks after her appointment.

Senior NHS manager Julie Dent had left for "personal reasons", the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said. She was appointed on April 22.

DHSC added it is working with NHS England to put in place the "right leadership" to deliver an independent review looking into hundreds of cases of alleged poor care at Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH).

It comes after some 100 mothers wrote to Health Secretary Sajid Javid to criticise the thematic review of maternity incidents.

They called for Donna Ockenden, who led an investigation into the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, to be put in charge.

Donna Ockenden addressing families and the media as the long-awaited report was published Credit: PA images

Ms Ockenden previously told BBC Radio Shropshire she had responded to the families, stating she was "deeply honoured" by their request to have her chair the review, but added the decision was not for her to make.

Mr Javid met with some of the families involved in the review on Wednesday and they will be now contacted by the NHS about the next steps for the review.

The Health Secretary said: "Today, I met with families to listen and understand their concerns about the review into maternity services at Nottingham University Hospitals.

"My sympathies remain with all those tragically affected by these harrowing failures and I acknowledge the courage and strength shown by all.

"It is crucial that the best possible leadership is in place to deliver an independent review that leads to real change, and I am working with the NHS to deliver on this and ensure no families have to go through the same pain again."

DHSC said the NHS recognises there is more to do to improve the engagement and communication with families, and this is a priority as a new review process is established.

It added that the NHS remains committed to ensuring that the experiences of families, any themes identified across maternity safety incidents, and concerns raised, all drive rapid improvements in care for women and babies in Nottingham.

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.