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NUH ‘on the right road’ says Donna Ockenden ahead of meeting with Notts Police

Nottingham University Hospitals still has a ‘marathon’ ahead as it strives to improve maternity services, the chair of a major independent review has said.

Donna Ockenden is leading the largest review in NHS history at Nottingham University Hospitals Trust, which runs Nottingham City Hospital and the Queen’s Medical Centre.

Around 1,800 families are now expected to be involved in the review, which covers cases including stillbirth, neonatal deaths, brain damage to the baby or harm to mothers.

Around 700 members of staff have also contributed to the review.

September 1 marks a year since the review started.

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Ms Ockenden said the number of cases has increased “very significantly” within the year.

She said she will meet Nottinghamshire Police’s Chief Constable Kate Meynell next week for an “exploratory” conversation.

Ms Meynell previously said she was prepared to consider if any criminal investigations are needed as a result of any findings.

Ms Ockenden said: “When I first met with the original families who campaigned so hard for this review to happen, my strong sense was there would be a large number of cases

“Listening to the seriousness of what happened to some of them, I felt there had to be more.

“I did think this would be a very large scale review and sadly that has proven to be the case.”

Ms Ockenden meets the trust’s executive team every eight weeks to feedback information from families.

In her latest feedback to the trust, she raised concerns over interpretation services, blood testing during Ramadan and parents being told that notes have been lost – despite the same notes being provided to the review team.

She said: “I think it’s a really good way of ensuring learning for maternity services in the here and now.

“The trust has got a marathon ahead, rather than a sprint.

“But they are on the right road and they are trying really hard. My strong sense is that Anthony May and his team are listening to everything that we feed back and they are doing things about it.”

Some bereaved families have said they want to see trust board members held accountable for failings.

Mr May said he will “absolutely” address any “clear evidence of wrongdoing in the trust”.

Reflecting on this, Ms Ockenden said: “Our review won’t shirk away from saying what it has to say.

“If there is accountability to be raised, we will not shy away from doing that.

“If there are things that need to be done in the here and now, we will report that back to the Chief Executive without a doubt.

“I will be meeting with Kate Meynell in the first week of September. It’s an exploratory conversation, it’s an introduction conversation.

“Anything that the police don’t do is entirely a matter for the police. Lines of communication are open and will continue to be open.”

Anthony May, Chief Executive, said the trust has “worked really hard on leadership and culture”.

He said the healthcare watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have “seen improvements” to services in a recent inspection.

He said: “We want to make sure that colleagues are able to work in a safe environment.

“We’ve worked really hard on transparency and encouraging people to come forward if something’s not right.

“I’d like to think in the last year we’ve knuckled down and we are now seeing the fruits of our hard work.”

He said improvements include triage service, fetal heart monitoring and an electronic record system.

Mr May added: “I know Kate [Meynell] from previous roles and I know she is a thorough and effective Chief Constable.

“It isn’t for us to work closely with her, that is between Kate and Donna.

“I have received an assurance from the Chief Constable that there is nothing we should be concerned about here and now.

“Anything that was referred to the police in the last number of years will have been looked at according to the police’s procedures. I am not a party to that.”

Nottinghamshire Police said it was too early to comment.

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