Donna Ockenden to lead review of maternity care and baby deaths at Nottingham NHS Trust

By Blackwater Law

A new review of maternity services at two hospitals administrated by Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) Trust is underway, led by midwife Donna Ockenden. Ockenden previously spearheaded the namesake report into Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital, unearthing one of the largest maternity care scandals in the history of the NHS.

What prompted the new review?

The new review has been launched into NUH following dozens of birth injuries to mothers and/or babies at Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre (QMC) and Nottingham City Hospital.

From 2010 to 2020, reports from Channel 4 News and the Independent show that 65 serious incidents occurred resulting in 46 cases of babies suffering brain damage and 19 stillbirths.

A series of medical negligence compensation claims have since resulted in £91m in damages and costs being paid out to the families of the victims.

In 2020, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) rated both maternity units as “inadequate”, citing the need for improvement in staffing levels and a change in leadership culture – with a greater willingness to learn from mistakes.

The new, national review was commissioned following dissatisfaction expressed in relation a regionally-led review that had initially been established. The families of victims made representations to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, prompting the re-examination.

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What will the new Ockenden review cover?

Comprised of Ms Ockenden and around 60 maternity care experts from across the UK, the review will examine recorded incidences of poor care at the Trust’s hospitals from as far back as 1st April 2012. It will consider cases up until three months before its final scheduled publication, currently expected in March 2024.

The review will also allow the submission of new cases from as far back as 1st April 2016, should it be thought that they could “add significantly” to the findings and subsequent recommendations.

Since its inception on 1st September 2022, the review team has already been contacted by more than 350 families affected by substandard maternity care from the Trust.

Blackwater Law medical negligence solicitors made a successful hospital negligence claim for the family of an elderly patient who fell out of bed.

Hospital beds in a corridor

What kind of birth injuries will be investigated in the review?

The review will examine instances of the following birth injuries, known to be more likely when maternity care is not delivered to acceptable standards:

  • Term and intrapartum stillbirths
  • Neonatal deaths from 24 weeks gestation that occurs up to 28 days of life
  • Cases of babies being diagnosed with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy
  • Maternal death up to 42 days post-partum
  • Birth injuries to mothers including unexpected admissions to intensive care, major blood loss in excess of 3.5L, peripartum hysterectomy, major invasive surgeries, eclampsia and pulmonary embolus requiring further treatment

Who is invited to provide feedback for the review?

Ms Ockenden’s review team wish to engage with a variety of key parties during the course of the review, to build a broad understanding of the failings at NUH.

This includes families of those affected by poor maternity care, current and former medical staff at the hospitals concerned, regional/national stakeholders and health regulators.

Those seeking to contribute to the review team can do so by contacting nottsreview@donnaockenden.com.

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