NottinghamshireLive joins calls for independent inquiry into maternity wards in city

Journalists in an East Midlands city are demanding an independent inquiry into maternity services in the region after 46 babies suffered brain damage and 19 were stillborn over the last decade.

NottinghamshireLive, and the Nottingham Post website, joined a call being made by parents and people across the region, who want maternity services at Nottingham University Hospitals Trust to be externally reviewed.

The Care Quality Commission rated the hospital’s maternity services as inadequate in October 2020. They confirmed last month they had carried out a follow up visit in March to check on progress, and were reviewing ‘a number of incidents’ in maternity services dating back to 2018.

The NHS trust, which runs Queen’s Medical Centre and City Hospital, was served a warning notice by the CQC in March after it again found a number of concerns remained with its maternity department.

It follows 46 babies suffering brain damage and 19 being stillborn in the city between 2010 and 2020, resulting in millions of pounds paid out in negligence claims.

Also in March, councillors accused hospital of bosses of not listening to patients or staff.

The local Clinical Commissioning Group is carrying out its own review into maternity services, which has prompted 450 families to come forward. However, many in the city want a full-scale independent inquiry.

Channel 4 News has since reported that Donna Ockenden, the senior midwife behind the report into the Shrewsbury and Telford maternity scandal, has agreed to urgently investigate Nottingham, although such a moved would have to sanctioned by Government.

The senior midwife recently released her report into maternity services at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals, which revealed failings had contributed to hundreds of babies’ deaths over 20 years.

In a powerful article published earlier this month, editor Natalie Fahy explained why the title was backing the campaign.

Natalie said: “We all know midwives work hard to do their best for the women and babies in their care — I will certainly remember mine forever. But they can’t be expected to carry on in the circumstances they currently work under.

“Change is drastically needed in the labour ward, and it’s not happening quickly enough. To those in charge at Nottingham University Hospitals, please act quickly, for all our sakes.

“As journalists we are the first to admit that sometimes we’re in a bubble. We write about issues that might not affect us, and rely on others to trust us and tell us their experiences.

“But the parlous state of maternity services at Nottingham’s QMC and City Hospitals is something that affects not only the women who give birth there, but their families, friends and colleagues too — not to mention the staff in the wards. We all deserve better maternity services, and we should not be afraid to call something out when it’s not performing as it should be.

“We stand with our readers who are calling for a public inquiry into maternity services here in Nottingham. Women and their birthing partners need to know they’re going into a safe environment and that they’ll have the best experience possible. At the moment this can’t happen.”

In recent months, the website and newspaper have published the experiences of local readers who lost their children during or after birth at the hospital trust.

Natalie added: “I am a mum of two boys myself. I had both my children at QMC, although I live a 45-minute drive away. I opted for QMC as opposed to a hospital nearer to me because I thought it could provide better care if I needed it. If I was pregnant again now, I would not be making that choice.

“Both my children were born healthy which I am grateful for every single day. But I think it’s important for women to speak up about their birth experiences so we all know what goes on in the labour ward. My first child was born face first and I lost a significant amount of blood because a part of the placenta broke off. A crash team had to step in and stabilise me, while my newborn son was screaming in a cot at the end of the bed.

“I have never written about this before — but it shows that even in births where you think everything will be fine, where everyone seems healthy and low risk, things can still go very wrong in a matter of minutes. As women, we need to know that we are in the best possible hands at all times.

“That trust is important. If psychologically a woman in labour is fearful, or anxious, that can affect levels of the hormone oxytocin and impact the progress of the birth. This affected my second birth experience, because I was terrified it would all happen again. It nearly did, but staff intervened quicker and I avoided a second transfusion.

“There are other people in the Nottinghamshire Live team who have had bad birth experiences at our city’s hospitals too. We all want this to change and it’s our job as the city’s main news website to amplify the voices of those who have suffered, and hold those responsible to account.”

Following the publication of the editorial, and the sending of a letter signed by 100 families, the Government has said it will take concerns ‘very seriously.’

The families, who all are said to have experienced the ‘same failings’ at Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH), asked for Donna Ockenden to be appointed for the inquiry.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care told Nottinghamshire Live that it was taking the concerns “very seriously” and was closely monitoring the situation.

“The Ockenden report paints a tragic and harrowing picture of repeated failures in care over two decades at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Hospital Trust. The Health and Social Care Secretary has been clear we will leave no stone unturned in addressing these failures,” said the spokesperson.

  • In 2022, Behind Local News aims to celebrate local journalism in all its forms through our 365 Acts of Local Journalism Project. Lets us know what you think should be included. You can email us here or contact us via Twitter on BehindLocalNews or on Facebook here.

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