Ockenden report: Midwife leading maternity investigation says Government hasn't done enough

  • ITV News Central correspondent Peter Bearne speaks to senior midwife Donna Ockenden, over a year into her review of maternity failings in Nottingham.

The midwife leading a review of failings in maternity care in Nottingham says the Government hasn't done enough in response to another review she carried out more than eighteen months ago.

Donna Ockenden is looking at how dozens of mothers and babies died or were injured whilst being cared for by the Nottingham University Hospitals Trust.

A number of bereaved families are calling for a public enquiry into England's maternity services, but Mrs Ockenden says now is not the time for that.

With so many questions still unanswered, she's now 14 months into her review of maternity services in Nottingham.

Some women, she says, still aren't getting good enough care - and adds that if the Trust running the city's hospitals is to turn things round, it will be a marathon not a sprint.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has inspected Nottingham's maternity services and now rate them as 'requiring improvement' - as opposed to their earlier rating of 'inadequate.' Mrs Ockenden told ITV News Central that she is "heartened" by the response from the Trust, but added: "I would say from my most recent visits there is still a lot to do."

There are more than 1,800 families involved in the review and more than 700 staff - making it the largest in NHS history as it looks at how dozens of mothers and babies came to harm.Some families want a judge-led public inquiry into England's maternity services after a series of scandals.Mrs Ockenden says she understands why they want this inquiry, but says that that's not needed now.

Instead she says the Department of Health should be putting into place what she called for after another review into maternity care in Shrewsbury - eighteen months ago.She said: "The Government must now fully implement those issues that they have fully endorsed. There's a big difference between promises and endorsements, and then seeing action - and I think the Government's got some work to do.

"I think ensuring that we've got the right funding, the right workforce, the right training, and therefore the very best care for mothers and babies and families is the priority."

Families say there still needs to be a complete overhaul of the way this country does childbirth.Lawyer Jane Williams, who is representing families involved in the Nottingham review, said: "My clients believe that a statutory enquiry would hopefully secure the sea-change that we need in maternity care across the country, particularly given the number of previous reviews and enquiries.

"Their fear is that history will repeat itself."Donna Ockenden's report isn't expected until September 2025, but she says she expects to see much more improvement at Nottingham's hospitals by then.

The Department of Health has been contacted but has not yet responded.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...