More than 1,300 care concerns raised over trust fined £800,000 for baby death
The chair of an independent review into an NHS trust’s maternity care has said that hundreds of families and staff members have raised concerns after it was fined £800,000 for care failures.
Donna Ockenden said more than 900 families and 400 staff members connected to the Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) NHS Trust have made contact since the review was first announced last September, and encouraged more to come forward.
Her comments come after the NUH trust was fined the record amount for failing to care for Sarah Andrews and her baby, Wynter, who died 23 minutes after being born at the Queen’s Medical Centre (QMC) on 15 September 2019.
Ms Ockenden said: “I’ve had the privilege of meeting Sarah and Gary Andrews, and the issue for me is the heartbreak that that family has suffered as a result of the death of Wynter.
"Wynter should be here with her family, and her little brother, now, and she isn’t, and I think the suffering of that family is something that should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind.”
Ms Ockenden, who qualified as a midwife in 1991, is leading an experienced team of midwives, obstetricians and other specialists from across the country to investigate what improvements can be made at the trust and ensure they are enforced.
She has previously led a similar review into the deaths of babies and mothers at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust.
But in this review, she said only around 90 staff came forward to share concerns.
The review will examine maternity care across the Trust and Ms Ockenden has urged anyone who feels they may have been affected to come forward, with a dedicated initiative for staff being launched last October.
She said: “What we have put a call-out for is staff, current or former staff, who work within or around maternity services, those services that underpin a maternity service.”
She added: “I would encourage more staff to come forward, because along with family cases, the more staff that come forward, the more families we are able to include, the more robust our findings will be and the more relevant our findings will be, and the stronger our findings will be.
"I say to the families across Nottingham, if you believe that you should be part of our review, don’t hesitate, and contact us.
“It’s really, really important that people do come forward.”
The review will look at clinical reviews, local and national care guidelines, testimonies of staff and patients, as well as results of internal inquiries and investigations previously carried out by the trust.
But Ms Ockenden said she did not want expectant mothers to worry that their child was at risk.
She said women should always raise concerns with midwives and other medical professionals, pledging that any learning would be released on an ongoing basis.
She added: “The trust is working really hard on an ongoing basis at their maternity improvement plan, and what I want women to understand is that as we progress with our reviews, where we find learning we will be sharing that learning on an ongoing basis with the trust as ‘must-dos’.
"I don’t want women to worry and think that their baby is due in five months’ time but I will save up all my learning for 18 months.
"I promise we will not do that, we have already agreed that we will be providing the learning to the trust so that they can continually improve, month by month, and I hope that then reassures women that the improvement is ongoing.”
The NUH trust is currently rated as requiring improvement by the Care Quality Commission after its latest inspection in 2021.
The QMC was given the same rating last May, but its maternity unit was rated as inadequate, the lowest rating available.
After the sentencing at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court, where District Judge Grace Leong said there were “systematic failures” in the care of both Wynter and Mrs Andrews, Anthony May, chief executive of the NUH trust, said: “I am truly sorry for the pain and grief that we caused Mr and Mrs Andrews due to failings in the maternity care we provided.
"These were serious failings that led to the worst possible outcome and we let them down at what should have been a joyous time in their lives.
"I want to pay tribute to Mr and Mrs Andrews, who have shown incredible courage during this process despite the fact that it has brought additional pain and suffering.
"On Wednesday we pleaded guilty and accepted responsibility for the findings of the CQC and today we accept, in full, the sentence of the court.
"While words will never be enough, I can assure our communities that staff across NUH are committed to providing good quality care every day and we are working hard to make the necessary improvements, including engaging fully and openly with Donna Ockenden and her team on their ongoing independent review into our maternity services.”