Families say improvements in Nottingham maternity services are a 'small step'

ITV News Central Health Correspondent Nancy Cole reports.

Families affected by failures in maternity care at Nottingham University Hospitals Trust say improvements in maternity services are “a small step”, but basics in care are still being missed. 

For the first time since 2020, maternity services at the Queens Medical Centre and Nottingham City Hospital, run by the trust, have been upgraded from inadequate to requiring improvement.

It follows inspections earlier this year by the health watchdog, the Care Quality Commission. 

Dozens of babies have died or been injured at the Trust which is currently the subject of an independent review and a police investigation. 

Dr Jack and Sarah Hawkins have long-campaigned for safer maternity care after their daughter Harriet died in 2016 due to failings. 

In a statement from the Nottingham families group they said “there is clearly much more that needs to be done”.

Though improvements were pointed out by inspectors across services including “women being treated with compassion and kindness”, families who have been failed said “it’s concerning that the CQC have identified critical and basic issues that still require improvement.”

Issues such as staff training, oversight of women’s risk and cleanliness of equipment were also raised in the CQC's report.

Sarah Hawkins said “it has taken so much external scrutiny by the media, by Donna Ockenden and a review team to get this improvement. 

"This improvement is the absolute minimal. It’s not a safe service. It still requires improvement and there’s a lot of work to be done.”

Dr Jack Hawkins spoke of concerns in the report over the Trust’s duty of candour - a legal requirement for patients to be notified when something goes wrong.

Dr Hawkins said families are contacting them about “harm going on right now, who have very recently experienced poor care and poor follow up of that care.” 

Today's report comes at a time the spotlight is heavily on Nottingham. 

It’s a year since the independent review into maternity failings led by senior midwife Donna Ockenden began. Her team is now looking at cases of some 1,800 affected families. 

The findings so far have triggered an inquiry by Nottinghamshire Police that will run alongside her own. The CQC also is looking at the deaths of three babies in 2021. 

The trust says it will take time to build sustainable change. Families who’ve suffered loss and harm at the maternity services it’s not soon enough. 

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