Saturday 24 February 2024
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Health scrutiny committee Chair sends second letter to health secretary over NUH maternity

The Chair of Nottingham City Council’s health scrutiny committee said she is “disappointed” after not hearing back from the health secretary about concerns over local maternity services.

Councillor Georgia Power (Lab) first wrote to Sajid Javid regarding concerns about the pace of improvement to maternity services at Nottingham University Hospitals in March 2021.

She said at the time that the issues were causing “significant anxiety for the public”.

The trust’s maternity services at the Queen’s Medical Centre and City Hospital are rated ‘inadequate’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) following baby deaths and injuries.

Now, the Chair of the City Council’s Health and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Committee has written again to Mr Javid after not receiving a response to her original letter.

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Cllr Power said: “I’m disappointed not have had a response from Sajid Javid – I believe this is a serious matter which needs the Government’s urgent attention, and would welcome the opportunity to discuss it with them further. “Since I sent the letter, NUH have made positive steps including putting a new Chair of the Board in place, appointing a new Chief Executive and improving their communication with us which I hope we can discuss at the committee meeting next week.

“But I still believe this is one of the most significant issues facing Nottingham and it’s vital we get this right for our residents  – and we need the Government to offer its full support to NUH in its improvement journey.”

The Clinical Commissioning Group is currently carrying out its own review into maternity services at the trust, which is due to complete in November 2022.

The review has been heavily criticised by some families, who called for experienced midwife Donna Ockenden to lead the process.

It comes after representatives of four affected Nottingham families met Sajid Javid in person on May 4 to call for Ms Ockenden to take over the CCG review.

NHS England had put forward Julie Dent to chair the review, who stepped down last week for “personal reasons”.

In the new letter dated May 11, Cllr Power wrote to Mr Javid: “I have not yet received a response to our letter and would be grateful if you could provide a full response to our Committee as a matter of urgency given the seriousness of the situation, and the time lapsed since our original letter.”

Mr Javid has previously responded to another Nottinghamshire councillor who raised concerns.

Conservative councillor Sue Saddington, who chairs the Health Scrutiny Committee at Nottinghamshire County Council, previously raised calls for a public inquiry.

Cllr Saddington wrote to Mr Javid in November 2021 saying “enough is enough” as concern mounted at the pace of change at the service.

She did receive a reply from Mr Javid, and said a meeting has now been secured with Maria Caulfield, the Minister for Patient Safety and Primary Care in May.

Cllr Power’s unanswered letter will be discussed at the authority’s Health and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Committee meeting on May 19.

During the meeting, councillors will also “review progress in improvement” in maternity services at the trust.

The original letter sent in March said that “high quality, credible leadership is crucial for driving improvement in the Trust”.

This week Anthony May was announced as the new Chief Executive of the trust and is expected to start in the role this autumn.

The leadership at the trust has previously been raised as a cause for concern after the CQC also rated the trust inadequate for how ‘well led’ it is.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We take the patient safety concerns at Nottingham University Hospital NHS Trust’s maternity services very seriously and the Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid met with families last week.

“The Trust is taking action to improve services and we are closely monitoring progress in improving the standard of care for mothers and babies.”

They said the letter from Cllr Power had been received and would be responded to in due course.

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