Families Welcome Donna Ockenden’s Nottingham Maternity Review

Donna Ockenden Review
BSC, LLB (Hons) & LPC Sophia Azam
Legally reviewed by: BSC, LLB (Hons) & LPC Sophia Azam In: Medical Negligence

Senior midwife, Donna Ockenden is starting her review into the failings of Nottingham’s hospitals. This comes after she led an inquiry into what has become the UK’s biggest maternity scandal in Shropshire.

Ms Ockenden was appointed as the new chair last May and since then has been looking into the alleged failures at Nottingham University Hospital NHS Trust. This is the NHS trust that governs Nottingham City Hospital and Queens Medical Centre.

Ms Ockenden met with the families that had been affected on Monday (July 11) and received an overwhelmingly positive response with many claiming that their voices are finally being heard.

Who is Donna Ockenden?

Donna Ockenden is a senior midwife with more than 30 years of experience working within a variety of health settings both in the UK and internationally.

Her career spans several sectors including acute providers, commissioning, hospital, community, and education.

She was chair of the England Royal College of Midwives (RCM) between 2006 and 2014.

From there she was approached by families in Nottingham after chairing a review into the deaths of more than 200 babies at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust.

In March, the Ockenden review found that 201 babies and 9 mothers could have survived if an NHS trust had provided better care.

Why is the Maternity Inquiry in Nottingham Needed?

The review comes as a result of 100 families writing to the then Health Secretary Sajid Javid, to criticise the thematic review of maternity incidents.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) told Nottingham University Hospital NHS Trust it must make “significant and immediate improvements” to its maternity services as it is said that women and babies may not be safe.

The latest inspection says both Nottingham City Hospital and Queen’s Medical Centre require improvements and maternity services at both sites remain rates inadequate overall.

Nottingham University Hospitals say it is working hard to make the necessary improvements but recognise it has “more to do.”

The families called for Donna Ockenden to chair the review after senior NHS manager Julie Dent left her role as chairwoman for “personal reasons” two weeks after being appointed.

Reaction to Donna Ockenden’s Appointment

After a delay in appointing a new chair, much to the relief of the families affected by the hospital’s failings, Donna Ockenden was given the job.

In a letter sent to the families, the chief operating officer of NHS England and NHS Improvement, Sir David Sloman apologised to the families for the distress caused by the delay in announcing a new chair and said he had listened to their concerns:

He wrote: “I can confirm that Donna Ockenden has agreed to chair the new review and we will work with her to develop a new terms of reference that reflects the need to both drive urgent improvements to local maternity care and the need to deliver actionable recommendations that can be implemented as quickly as possible.”

“This signals the start of the next stage in the journey where families can now stop fighting and instead dedicate their strength, knowledge, and experiences to uncover the truth and improve maternity service for the people of Nottingham.”

In a statement after her appointment, Ms Ockenden said: “We already know that improvements to maternity care need to be made across the country and families in Nottingham have been through experiences that no family should ever have to go through.”

Donna Ockenden Giving a Voice to the Victims

Since starting her review into Nottingham University Hospitals Trust, donna Ockenden has met with the families affected.

Ms Ockenden states: “It was lovely to put names to faces this was my first meeting with the families who had reached out to me.”

“It was a private meeting, we had a good positive conversation, and as they left, they said ‘thank you for listening and ensuring we are heard’, that was our parting comment.”

“We must make sure family voices are listened to and heard; they are central to all we do.”

“We must support the trust to improve the safety and quality of their maternity services, so the local population of Nottingham feel confident their services are safe again and they can be proud of them”

How Have Maternity Services Changed in the Past 30 Years?

During an interview with ITV, Ms. Ockenden described the changes in maternity services since she started out as a midwife 30 years ago.

She states “Women have become more complex; maternity doesn’t sit alone as an island it is responsive to the society we are in and we know that there are many more disadvantaged families using our maternity services.”

“On paper, birth numbers are coming down, the acuity of women has increased significantly, against the backdrop of reduced midwives on the ground.”

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