Health Secretary Sajid Javid has contacted a senior Nottinghamshire councillor to discuss concerns around the pace of improvement at Nottingham maternity services.
Conservative councillor Sue Saddington, who chairs the Health Scrutiny Committee at Nottinghamshire County Council, has previously raised calls for a public inquiry following concern over dozens of incidents involving baby deaths and injuries at the Queen’s Medical Centre and Nottingham City Hospital.
Cllr Saddington wrote to Mr Javid in November 2021 saying “enough is enough” as concern mounted at the pace of change at the service, currently rated ‘inadequate’ by inspectors.
Some families and local politicians say the current review is not enough to ensure the right changes are brought in by Nottingham University Hospitals Trust (NUH), which runs both hospitals.
After receiving a letter back from health secretary Mr Javid, Cllr Saddington said a meeting has now been secured with Maria Caulfield, the Minister for Patient Safety and Primary Care in May.
The news comes after former NHS trust chair Julie Dent was announced as the new chair of the ongoing NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) review into the trust’s maternity services last week.
Her appointment was backed by Mr Javid and in an open letter to families, Chief Operating Officer for NHS England and NHS Improvement David Sloman said the review will now have “enhanced national oversight”.
But the move was rejected by around 100 families in a statement which said they had been “further traumatised” and “let down” by the decision.
They called for experienced midwife Donna Ockenden to lead her own review, as well as a public inquiry.
Councillor Saddington said: “Thanks to Cllr Ben Bradley’s dual role as Nottinghamshire County Council Leader and MP for Mansfield, we have a direct line of communication with Government to raise and discuss important matters such as this on behalf of our residents, and I’m delighted that this meeting will address these issues directly with the minister.”
Councillor Michelle Welsh (Lab), who has campaigned for a public inquiry and sits on the County Council’s health scrutiny committee, said: “This is great news, but the meeting is not with Sajid Javid.
“This situation is so serious it requests a public inquiry and direct attention from the health secretary.
“The big issue is that families are not being listened to.
“There should be a spokesperson there from the families at the meeting with Maria Caulfield MP.
“The whole point of this isn’t about us as politicians, this is about the safety of women and babies in Nottinghamshire.
“It should be the uppermost priority for every single Nottinghamshire MP and the health secretary.”
It comes after former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt wrote in his weekly newsletter about the “Nottingham maternity mess”.
He said in the Patient Safety Watch newsletter published this week: “No disrespect to Julie Dent but why on earth didn’t they ask Donna Ockenden to do it?
“Donna knows how to do it, skilfully won over the confidence of Shrewsbury and Telford families and – most importantly -can make recommendations that build on her earlier ones rather than trying to reinvent the wheel.
“I have asked Sajid Javid about this so let’s see if there is any movement.”
A spokesperson for Nottingham University Hospitals said: “We will continue to engage fully with the independent review and remain committed to improving local maternity services using feedback from the review as well as local families and NHS partners.”
A spokesperson for the NHS said: “No one should have to go through what these families in Nottingham have suffered and it is absolutely right that they have their experiences of poor care responded to and learned from.
“The next steps of the review including engagement with families will be set out shortly.”