Nottinghamshire Police to launch investigation into maternity care
Nottinghamshire Police have announced that an investigation will be launched into maternity care provided under Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) NHS Trust.
An inquiry into failings of care provided by the Trust, reported as the UK’s largest ever, was initially launched in September 2022. Chaired by senior midwife Donna Ockenden, the inquiry has already been in contact with around 700 families regarding the unusually high levels of neonatal brain injuries and stillbirths, and the number of families involved is expected to rise to 1,800. The decision to launch a Police investigation alongside the inquiry followed a series of meetings with Donna Ockenden over the past months.
A number of news outlets have reported that there were 46 brain injuries and 19 stillbirths between 2010 and 2020. The maternity units of Nottingham City Hospital and Queen’s Medical Centre, in particular, have been consistently rated as ‘inadequate’ by the Care Quality Commission over the past 3 years. A report by the Commission on Nottingham City Hospital, published 27 May 2022, stated:
“The service did not have enough staff to care for women and keep them safe. Not all staff had training in key skills. Staff did not always assess all risks to women, and we were not assured staff acted upon concerns in a timely way. Staff did not always keep good care records and did not always manage medicines well. We were not assured staff reported all incidents and near misses, and staff did not always receive feedback.”
Families have reported bullying and belittling behaviour by staff, and a widespread failure in transparency is one of the many reasons why the Police have decided to commence a formal investigation into the Trust.
Sarah Hawkins, whose daughter was stillborn in Nottingham City Hospital, told ITV News:
“The clinicians who failed us, the managers who failed us, have not been held to account. They’re fully working, and in any other walk of life, if hundreds of babies were being killed and mothers being harmed, action would be taken.”
A further report is expected to be published by the Care Quality Commission on the 13th of September.
Head of personal injury and medical negligence at Clarke Willmott, Marguarita Tyne said:
“We welcome the scrutiny that will be given to maternity care in Nottinghamshire as a consequence of the police investigation. While gruelling for families who have already been through enough heartbreak, as ever, with these tragic cases, families deserve answers and the police work coupled with the existing high level review from Donna Ockenden and her team should help with this process. We very much hope that for the future there will be vast improvements in patient safety with harm prevented for future patients.”
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