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Donna Ockenden to chair new review into flaws at another hospital

The chief midwife who investigated the NHS’s worst maternity scandal will chair a new review at another hospital, officials revealed today.

Donna Ockenden, who produced the landmark report on the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, will now investigate the failings at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.

It follows the backlash to the earlier review of the health service, which critics feared was not truly independent.

Some 100 mothers urged Sajid Javid to appoint Ms Ockenden in April, but the NHS initially opted for NHS Senior Director Julie Dent.

The families said they were “severely disappointed, confused and even more traumatized.” They raised concerns about the independence of the previous review, which was first established in August last year.

Ms Dent resigned earlier this month citing “personal reasons”.

Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt claimed earlier this week that the Health Department had scored “an own goal” by not naming Ms Ockenden sooner. He suggested that DHSC thought “she is too independent.”

Now, NHS England has formally apologized to families for the delay in Ms Ockenden’s appointment, scrapping the previous review and starting over.

Families demanding answers called her appointment a “significant step towards restoring confidence in Nottingham’s maternity services”.

At least nine babies and three mothers are believed to have died in the last three years at the trust, which runs 15 hospitals in the Midlands. He had previously paid out millions of pounds for the deaths of 30 babies and 46 babies who suffered brain damage.

Donna Ockenden, who produced the landmark report on the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, will now chair a review at another hospital.

Donna Ockenden, who produced the landmark report on the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, will now chair a review at another hospital.

1653649413 270 Donna Ockenden to chair new review into flaws at another

She will take over the review at Nottingham Nottingham University Hospitals after backlash over the health service’s first choice for the job. Pictured: Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham

Some 100 mothers urged Sajid Javid to appoint Ms Ockenden in April, but the NHS initially opted for NHS Senior Director Julie Dent (pictured)

Some 100 mothers urged Sajid Javid to appoint Ms Ockenden in April, but the NHS initially opted for NHS Senior Director Julie Dent (pictured)

What did the families say about the appointment of Donna Ockenden in the review of

A statement on behalf of the affected families said: ‘We cannot describe the overwhelming sense of relief we feel at the news that Donna Ockenden has been appointed to review Nottingham’s maternity services.

‘We would like to thank the Rt Hon Sajid Javid for finally listening to us after many years of campaigning by families affected by care failures.

‘The appointment of Donna Ockenden is an important step in restoring confidence in Nottingham’s maternity services.

“We trust that you will conduct a robust review to ensure that the scale of flaws at NUH is recognized and essential improvements are made.

‘Improvements that will protect future babies and mothers from death and harm. Improvements that will ensure that women are properly heard.

‘Improvements that will ensure staff have the right qualifications, training and skills.

‘Improvements that will create a new culture of transparency, openness and willingness to learn from mistakes.

“This marks the beginning of the next stage in the journey where families can now stop fighting and instead dedicate their strength, knowledge and experiences to uncovering the truth and improving maternity service for the people of Nottingham.” .

Ms Ockenden said: “Having a baby is one of the most important moments for a family and when women and their babies come into contact with NHS maternity services, they should receive the best and safest care.”

‘We already know that improvements need to be made to maternity care across the country and families in Nottingham have been through experiences that no family should have to go through.

“I am delighted that Sir David Sloman has asked me to take on the role of chair of this review and I will shortly be engaging with families as my first priority.”

The previous review, covering almost 600 cases, was expected to be completed in November this year.

It is looking at data from 2006, when the NUH trust was formed, to mid-October 2021 and was established by the local clinical commissioning group (CCG) and the NHS for England.

But NHS England announced today that the current team will publish their interim findings today and will stand down to allow Ms Ockenden’s team to take over.

The health service said it “will ensure these improvements are made immediately” in light of families’ concerns.

And Ms. Ockenden’s team will start as soon as possible with new terms of reference, she said.

Sir David Sloman, chief operating officer of NHS England and Improvement, said: “We are sorry for the distress caused to families by the delay in announcing a new chair for review.

‘We know we need to get this right for families who have experienced such a terrible loss and been through so much pain already.

“We have heard the concerns raised and want to make sure the new review addresses them; It must help families share their views and experiences so that vital improvements can be made for mothers, families and babies in Nottingham.

“Given Donna Ockenden’s wealth of experience, we are pleased that she has agreed to chair the review – we will begin working together now to develop terms of reference so that her vital work can begin without further delay.”

A spokesman for the affected families said they “cannot describe the overwhelming sense of relief” they feel at Ms Ockenden’s appointment.

They said: ‘We would like to thank the Rt Hon Sajid Javid for finally listening to us after many years of campaigning by families affected by care failures.

‘The appointment of Donna Ockenden is an important step in restoring confidence in Nottingham’s maternity services.

“We trust you will conduct a robust review to ensure that the scale of flaws at NUH is recognized and essential improvements are made.”

The damning report by Ms Ockenden of the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust showed that mothers were forced to have natural births even though they should have been offered a caesarean section in hospital.

The review found that around 200 babies and nine mothers could have survived if better care had been provided, while the trust’s low caesarean section rate was seen as positive nationally and locally.

In the review, it found that the trust presided over catastrophic failures for 20 years, and failed to learn from its own inadequate investigations, resulting in babies being stillborn, dying shortly after birth, or suffering severe brain damage.

The Shrewsbury and Telford research found that some babies suffered skull fractures, broken bones or developed cerebral palsy after traumatic forceps deliveries, while others received no oxygen and experienced life-changing brain injuries.

The report said midwifery staff were “overconfident” in their abilities, and there was a reluctance to involve more senior staff.

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