Saturday 23 October 2021
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Council committee calls for NUH medical director and chair to resign

Calls have been made for the medical director and chair of Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust to resign after a damning report into its maternity services.

The chair of Nottinghamshire County Council’s health scrutiny committee, Cllr Sue Saddington (Con) also said she is writing to Health Secretary Sajid Javid to voice concerns over leadership at the trust.

Dr Keith Girling, medical director for Nottingham University Hospitals Trust (NUH), did not attend the scrutiny committee meeting on Tuesday, October 12, because of ill health.

In his absence, Cllr Saddington and other councillors posed questions to Chief Nurse Michelle Rhodes, who joined the trust in June.

The trust runs both Nottingham City Hospital and the Queen’s Medical Centre.

Mrs Rhodes told the committee the trust’s maternity staff are “working and trying everything they can to keep women and babies safe”.

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In December health watchdog, the Care Quality Commission, released a report rating the maternity services at Queen’s Medical Centre and City Hospital as ‘inadequate’.

Cllr Saddington said it was time for other members of the trust leadership team, including Dr Girling, to stand down over fears the service will not improve with them at the helm.

She said: “It is a damning report, and I hold the previous leadership fully responsible. With such a department in crisis I believe the senior leadership team should stand aside.

“You need to bring someone in to be in charge with leadership skills, compassion and communication and make the maternity unit at NUH a centre of excellence.”

In a statement released shortly after the meeting, Cllr Saddington added she believed both NUH Chairman Eric Morton and Medical Director Dr Girling should stand down, adding: “The senior leadership team are presiding over a maternity unit in crisis. It’s a damning report and I hold the leadership team who were in place prior to June 2021 fully responsible.”

It has been reported that more than £91m in compensation and costs was paid out by NUH from 2010 to 2020 in connection with brain damage suffered by 46 babies and 19 stillbirths.

Cllr Saddington said she thought the committee had heard nothing but “lip service” on the improvement of NUH’s maternity services since the CQC’s report.

She said: “That report you had is devastating to any mother going into Queen’s Medical Centre and City Hospital. This responsibility lies with Keith Girling. He has been in charge of the unit and has sat back and let this happen.”

She and other committee members said they would write to the Secretary of State for Health, Sajid Javid to inform him of “the lack of progress” on leadership.

She added: “We cannot sit here for any longer and see this maternity unit falling apart around us. The babies that are born injured or die are somebody’s precious child.

“We cannot let this continue and we will write to the secretary of state and may well see him. It has to be taken to the highest level. We owe it to the people of Nottinghamshire.

“We know Keith Girling because we know his name, but he is not there working on his own. He has a board behind him and the board that allowed this to happen all are culpable and that is what we will say.”

Cllr Matt Barney (Con), vice chair of the committee, said he had spoken to staff at the hospital who had told him they had not seen a full improvement plan for the service.

He added: “I would like to ask the question – do the leadership of NUH have the ability and credibility to get this house in order? I don’t think they do.”

Chief Nurse Mrs Rhodes said “a significant amount of work” had been done including setting up a 24/7 advice line for pregnant women to speak to a midwife at the end of the phone.

She said the biggest challenge for the trust was staffing. She said there will be 38 extra midwives in post by October and another 20 will arrive in January.

However, she said even with this uplift, there are still vacancies, adding the other risk was staff morale after the damning report into the service.

“We are working really hard with our maternity teams and whole organisation to build the trust we have clearly lost,” she added.

“We do have staff that are exhausted and feeling low at the moment because things at NUH are not as good as we would like them to be.”

She said there were also concerns around the demand on the maternity service, which is not just felt in Nottingham but across the country.

She said the trust will ring around hospitals on a daily basis to see if they will take their pregnant women, but “no one else can take them”.

She said: “It is putting a consistent stress on our midwives. Our teams are working and trying everything they can to keep women and babies safe.”

NUH have been approached since the meeting for further comment.

 

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