A new Chair backed by Health Secretary Sajid Javid has been appointed to lead a review into maternity services at Nottingham’s hospitals.
The move, announced on 22 April is a significant shift in the scale of the review but stops short of a full public inquiry, which some families say is the only way to ensure the required change.
Dozens of baby deaths and injuries at Nottingham University Hospitals Trust’s maternity units dating back to around 2010 are being looked at by the review, which some bereaved families previously said they have no faith in.
Maternity services at both the Queen’s Medical Centre and Nottingham City Hospital are currently rated as ‘inadequate’ by inspectors the Care Quality Commission.
Nottingham University Hospitals Trust, which runs both hospitals, says it is doing all it can to improve and is running a programme of changes across maternity in response.
The local NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) review into “maternity incidents, complaints, and concerns” was announced in 2021 – and hundreds of families have since come forward to be part of the process.
But a letter from grieving parents said earlier this month that the review was moving with the “viscosity of treacle” and called for experienced midwife Donna Ockenden to carry out her own investigation into the unit’s failings.
On Friday, April 22, David Sloman, Chief Operating Officer NHS England and NHS Improvement, announced that Julie Dent CBE will take on the role of chair of the review and begin work immediately.
In an open letter to families, he said the review will now have “enhanced national oversight” by NHS England and NHS Improvement.
But Councillor Michelle Welsh (Lab), who has supported the families, said the current review has “failed” and again called for a public inquiry.
The letter announcing the change stated: “Following discussions at both a regional and national level, it is clear that urgent changes to how the review is being delivered need to be made.
“A new chair needs to lead this review with sufficient senior experience to address the concerns and challenges faced at Nottingham University Hospitals, to speed up the process and to deliver a review that can bring about real change for women and babies in Nottingham.”
Cllr Welsh (Lab) told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “Precious time has been wasted and families have been put under unnecessary stress and anxiety again by Nottingham University Hospital Trust.
“Moving the deck chairs around isn’t going to deliver the changes so desperately needed in order to protect mothers and babies in Nottingham.
“The Government must intervene, we need a public inquiry.”
In a tweet, health secretary Sajid Javid said: “The Nottingham hospitals maternity review must urgently bring about real change & prevent more families from suffering.
“I’m confident the appointment of Julie Dent, with her extensive experience, will deliver a review that helps address these tragic failures.”
A spokesperson for Nottingham University Hospitals said previously that it was doing everything in its power to ensure families get the “best possible care”.