'Not good enough' - Nottingham hospital bosses apologise to families for maternity failings

  • Nottingham University Hospital say they are "really very sorry" and they are determined to get to "learn from the incidents"

Bosses at Nottingham University Hospital Trust (NUH) say they have apologised to families after it emerged they are still investigating 61 serious incidents at their maternity units.

These cases were not directly passed on to the independent review team, lead by Donna Ockenden, looking into the city's maternity unit 'failings'.

Twelve of these include maternal deaths, neonatal deaths, stillbirths, or severe brain injury in babies and date back to 2019.

Dr Keith Gurling, Medical Director at Nottingham University Hospitals said: "I'd like to just start by saying we're really sorry to all of those women and families who have experienced any failings in care throughout their time with us at NUH.

"We take any incident that has happened very seriously and are very keen to learn from that. In order to get the learning we need to investigate those incidents and see what is happening.

"Of course every loss is a real tragic loss and we don't underestimate the impact that has had on families and on women and we want to make sure we learn as much as we possibly can from what's happened."

When asked why mums and babies are still being injured and dying, the NUH boss responded: "We're very sorry for those who have experienced failings in our care.

"Healthcare does come at risk and we do everything we can to prevent that and that's why it's really important that we learn from the incidents that occur so we can reduce the frequency of those going forward."

"[I've] apologised profusely but it isn't good enough."

Serious incidents are considered unexpected or unintended events which could cause harm to NHS patients.

The threshold of what makes a serious incident includes the death of babies, mothers, stillbirths and brain damaged babies, but can also include logistical issues where the mother has had to be diverted to another unit.

During September's board meeting, Director of Midwifery Sharon Wallis said: "We have a significant number of serious incidents. We have a cluster being reviewed. We have support from the regional team to try to get through the backlog.

"We need to understand where things have gone wrong and learn lessons for families.

"I've personally spoken to one of the women [involved] and apologised profusely, because it isn't good enough."

The NHS used to have a 60 day target with investigations, which was lifted during the pandemic.

Fifty-four of the 61 cases have passed the 60 day target, with some of them dating back years.

The NUH boss continued: "All the families that are engaged in incident investigations there's a panel set up and the panel will be in contact with the family.

"And for those incidents where we haven't yet commenced a panel, we are reaching out to those families to update them on the time frame that things are happening in."

Currently a review is being held by midwife Donna Ockenden after dozens of baby deaths at Queen's Medical Centre and City Hospital in Nottingham.

The Trust says it's working had to clear the backlog of investigations, and hopes to have them completed by Christmas.

Maternity services at Nottingham University Hospitals Trust have been declared inadequate by health watchdogs.

The Government appointed the independent review team following a campaign by bereaved families.

More than 700 families and more than 160 members of staff have contacted the independent review team, to share their experiences, since it started work eight weeks ago.