Tuesday 16 July 2024
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Nottingham

Councillor voices concerns over maternity safety at Nottingham hospitals

A leading nurse says Nottingham University Hospitals Trust has made a “real difference” in improving its failing maternity services.

Nottingham University Hospitals’ (NUH) maternity services at the Queen’s Medical Centre and Nottingham City Hospital are currently rated ‘inadequate’ following a report by inspectors and dozens of baby deaths and injuries.

Danni Burnett, Deputy Chief Nurse at Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), met with Nottinghamshire County Councillors on January 4. The CCG is monitoring improvement at the trust.

But chair of the council health scrutiny committee, Councillor Sue Saddington (Con) said as long as someone can go into Nottingham’s hospitals and lose a baby, the service is not safe.

She said: “Until we can see that babies are coming out very safely from that unit, to me it is not safe.

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“Obviously there has to be some risk, but not quite the risk you have been having.”

Last month, the trust paid out a £2.8m settlement to the Hawkins family, whose baby daughter was born dead in 2016.

In an update, Ms Burnett said the CCG now participates in more hospital trust meetings and a ‘maternity sub group’ has been created to monitor progress.

She told councillors: “There is an absolute commitment to drive rapid improvement.

“What we’re starting to see is a real difference, a step change.

“Pace still continues to be a focus for NUH at maternity services. Staffing, Covid infections and the vaccination programme have been a particular focus in the last eight weeks.

“We absolutely want to ensure that every stone is lifted and every improvement is taken in terms of maternity services.”

But she added: “This is not just about an NUH issue to resolve. Ultimately, they are accountable for the delivery of services, but as a system, we have a responsibility and we need to hold the mirror up to ourselves.”

The CCG said a Quality Assurance & Oversight Group has been set up to focus on three areas: maternity, the emergency department and governance and leadership.

When asked how long it will take to improve services, she responded: “Initially, we heard 12 months being talked about in terms of moving from ‘inadequate’ to ‘outstanding’.

“When we look at other services across the country that have had significant scrutiny, it has been years.

“I wouldn’t want to put a time on it because I think it is really important that we get this right.

“We want to commission a really positive service for our women. It’s not where we want it to be at the moment and we know there is a significant amount of work left to do. We are committed to doing everything in our power to support NUH to make those improvements.”

Councillor Matt Barney (Con), Vice Chairman of the Committee, said: “It is very positive that the CCG is seeming to believe that there are credible changes afoot and there are motions in place to make those changes that absolutely need to be made.

“We are sensing that there is positivity amongst the current users, but historically there is still a legacy of the past which is where we are receiving most of the pressure and focus from.”

NHS CCG and NHS England are also carrying out their own review into “maternity incidents, complaints and concerns” at the trust, which is expected to be complete by the end of 2022.

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