Midwife who led Shrewsbury maternity probe ‘would chair Nottingham review’

Families affected by alleged maternity failures Nottingham University Hospitals have called for Donna Ockenden to be put in charge.

07 April 2022

The senior midwife who led an investigation into the UK’s biggest maternity scandal has said she would be willing to chair a separate review into alleged failures at another trust, and that she was “honoured” to be asked to do so by affected families.

Some 100 mothers have written to Health Secretary Sajid Javid to criticise the thematic review of maternity incidents currently under way at Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) and called for Donna Ockenden to be put in charge.

Ms Ockenden recently delivered the damning report into Shrewsbury and Telford hospital NHS Trust, which saw more than 200 baby deaths and is considered the UK’s biggest maternity scandal.

Donna Ockenden said she would chair the Nottingham review but that it is not her decision to make (Jacob King/PA)
Donna Ockenden said she would chair the Nottingham review but that it is not her decision to make (Jacob King/PA)

Families affected by alleged failures at NUH said they have no confidence in the current review process or those leading it, and feel they must speak out about their concerns now “if there is any chance of preventing more death and harm to babies, mothers, and families”.

Ms Ockenden told BBC Radio Shropshire she had responded to the families, but that the decision on whether to take on the NUH review is not for her to make.

She said: “Clearly there would need to be an appointment process – it’s not up to me to appoint myself of course.

“I’ve responded (to the families) and said I’m deeply honoured.

“I would of course take on (and) chair that review, but there is a team in place at the moment, it’s not my decision as to whether I take it on.

“I know that the families in Nottingham have said that they’ve written to the Secretary of State, so we can await the next steps.”

The current thematic review, looking at data from 2006 when the NUH trust was formed until mid-October 2021, was initiated for several reasons, but mainly due to families raising concerns about their cases, according to the review’s website.

It is being led by the local clinical commissioning group (CCG) and NHS England, and is expected to be completed by November 2022.

The probe is being conducted after dozens of babies died or suffered brain damage in recent years.

The families have questioned the independence of the probe, which has been commissioned by two former employees of NUH, and the experience of the leadership to handle a review of this magnitude.

They said not enough has been done to promote the review or reach out to new families in order to fully understand the extent of the failings.

The Department of Health has been contacted for comment.

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