The chair of Nottinghamshire County Council’s health scrutiny committee, Cllr Sue Saddington called for the medical director and chair of NUH to resign at a meeting yesterday.
Cllr 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, owing to 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”.
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.”
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.”
In a statement, Eric Morton, chairman at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust said:
“We would like to assure patients and colleagues that we are working hard to address the serious concerns highlighted in the recent CQC report, focussing on standards of leadership within the Trust.
“It’s important to note that the report does not criticise clinical services and recognises the care, dignity, compassion and kindness that our staff provide for our patients; but it’s our job as the leaders of the Trust to ensure that the foundations of our organisation – our processes, governance, and learning from incidents – improve to allow our teams to provide safe, high quality care within a positive, open and supportive culture.”