More than 400 families contact Nottingham's maternity review in first two weeks

Donna Ockenden, who chairs the review, says 'no voice will be left behind' Credit: PA Images

More than 400 families have contacted the new Nottingham maternity services review less than two weeks after it began, says senior midwife Donna Ockenden.

Ms Ockenden - the chair of the new 18-month independent review investigating maternity care at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (NUH) - says it is already at a "very large scale indeed".

The midwife, who led the investigation into the maternity scandal at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, told ITV Central: "We've got off to a very fast start in terms of the number of families that have come forward.

"We can see already that there are significant issues."

She added that she is adamant to ensure "no voices are left behind" and she expects more bereaved families with experiences to come forward.

Donna Ockenden reflects on the reviews first two weeks and her aims for the review

On Tuesday, she met affected families of maternity-related failings at Nottingham's Queen's Medical Centre and City Hospital, after it was announced incidents from 10 years ago will be considered in the review.

Ms Ockenden said: "The overriding theme from families was, what happened to us must not be allowed to happen to other families."

Community groups attended the meeting including the Nottingham Muslim Women's Network and a voluntary run project Zephyr's, which supports people who have suffered pregnancy loss or the death of a baby or child.

The families say they are "relieved" the review is underway into Nottingham University Hospitals' Trust (NUH) Maternity Units and are "grateful" families and staff are being listened to.

Ms Ockenden reflected on how the review has been received by those affected, saying: "Conversations went well, I think families are relieved that the review is under way.

"Yesterday there was a gratefulness that families and staff are being listened to."

She said: "Well over 400 families have contacted us directly but what we mustn't forget is potentially over 600 families contacted the previous review which closed."

Any families who were part of the last review are automatically members of this review if they want to be.

Ms Ockenden said: "They'll (NUH) be providing to our review team with their cases of stillbirth, of neonatal death, of babies sustained brain damage, of mothers who sadly died and mothers who experienced sustained severe harm as part of their maternity care."

"If there are cases within those five groups that we've just talked about that want to come forward they can contact us as well."

The review aims to examine failings at the maternity units in the two Nottingham Hospitals following the deaths and injuries of dozens of babies and mothers during or shortly after birth in the maternity wards.

It officially started on 1 September after bereaved families called on the Health Secretary for urgent change and the previous NHS review was scrapped.

Ms Ockenden previously lead a 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.

This review, however, is expected to last 18 months, depending on the number of families who come forward and it was announced on Tuesday (13 September) it will consider cases from 1 April 2012.

In some circumstances, experiences dating back to April 2006 will be considered if they "add significantly to the review's findings".

Ms Ockenden explained: "We know NUH look after about 10,000 women a year so 10 years of cases is 100,000 families.

"What is really important is that the work we do is in sufficient detail and helps NUH to improve in the here and now."

When asked about working with the hospitals she said she wants staff on the ground to also feel "heard and listened to".

The independent review comes after dozens of babies died or were injured at the Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) Trust. Credit: PA Images

Inspectors the Care Quality Commission currently rate maternity at NUH as "inadequate".

Hospital executives are working to an improvement plan and the trust appointed a new chief executive, Anthony May, on 1 September.

In an open letter published on the day, Mr May said: "I am determined to deliver the improvements needed in maternity services, building on the work of our Maternity Improvement Programme."

He added: "I would like to welcome Donna and her team to Nottingham and I look forward to working collaboratively with Donna, as part of our wider improvement programme.

"While there is more to do, I have been impressed by the hard work, dedication and expertise of the teams I have met across NUH."