- By Michael Buchanan & Liam Barnes
- BBC news
The review of maternal care failures in Nottingham hospitals will be the largest investigation ever carried out in the UK.
Donna Ockenden, chair of the investigation, said at a meeting on Monday that 1,700 cases of families will be considered.
It focuses on the maternity units at Queen’s Medical Center and City Hospital, run by the trust.
To date, 1,266 families have contacted the assessment team directly, and to date, 674 of these have agreed to participate.
But Ms Ockenden has called for a “radical review” to ensure that “women from all communities” have been entrusted with contact and “feel confident” to move forward.
Families have asked the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England and the trust to agree to change the rating from “opt in” to “opt out”.
NHS England has now written to affected families, confirming cases will be handled on a denial basis, with families having to refuse to consent.
On Monday, NUH president Nick Carver joined Ms. Ockenden and bereaved families at the foundation’s annual meeting.
He admit More needs to be done to earn the trust of families and communities and is committed to “working collaboratively to plan an apology on behalf of the board that the families recognize as having meaning”.
“It’s been too long since we listened to the women and families affected by the failures in our maternity services,” he told the meeting.
“This brick-wall approach has caused additional pain and this must change.”
Updating the meeting on the expanded scope of the review, Ms. Ockenden said: “My promise to families today is the same one I made to you in September at the start of this review, that as a review team we will do all we can to ensure this review is available to all families in Nottinghamshire.”
She added: “I can say I’ve seen some positive changes to family accounts but the trust has a very long journey ahead of it.
“What happened cannot be fixed overnight.”
NUH CEO Anthony May described the meeting as “a very important milestone”.
He told BBC Radio Nottingham he has met a number of mothers and described their accounts as “very distressing”.
“When I heard those stories, I was very sad and very determined to improve things in the hospital,” he said.
“What we want to do today is signal that we want a new relationship with families built on trust and transparency, and try to understand how they can help them. I improve everything in maternity services.
“I’d say I think they’re really brave, I think they’re very persistent and the fact that we’ve gotten to where we are after consideration is largely due to their efforts.”
Despite apologizing after taking over the job last year, Mr May said a full apology on behalf of the NUH board would be made “on family terms”.
He also said staff in maternity services “work extremely hard”, adding: “It is the trust that has let them down.”
Mr May said the trust had “made improvements” in regards to equipment and staff training, adding more doctors and midwives were “preparing”, including some staff from abroad. outside.
“There are signs that we are improving gradually, but we still have a mountain to climb,” he said.
Responding to statements from NUH, Jack and Sarah Hawkins, whose daughter Harriet was stillborn at the foundation in 2016, said the commitment to transparency was “huge”.
“Honestly, it was a shock to the system,” Ms. Hawkins said.
“For seven and a half years, we struggled to be heard.
“So for them to say they’re going to take an open and honest approach is really hard to believe.
“Whether that happens is still unknown but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.”
In a statement, the group representing parents said: “We welcome today’s commitment from the trust to a ‘new honest and transparent relationship’ with a sense of relief and optimism. .
“For a long time, we have struggled not only to be heard, but also to take action and be held accountable.
“We deserve to know who knew what and when, why it was allowed to continue; and how the trust avoided scrutiny for so long.”
Ockenden’s previous assessment in Shrewsbury and Telford, which also used an “opt out” approach, included more than 95% of affected families.
The Nottingham Trust wrote to 1,377 families in late November and late January.
The letters are addressed to families who have experienced stillbirth, infant death, baby brain damage, harm to mothers or loved ones of deceased mothers.
But only 360 families responded to these letters.
In total, 28% of white women contacted responded, while for black and Asian women the figure was 10% and 5%, respectively.
In Nottingham, only about 25% of families known to be affected were included in the assessment.
Ms Ockenden said: “Currently, with 674 of our families participating in the assessment, I cannot say as chair that we have anywhere near a representative sample of rich diversity. that we know exist in Nottingham.
“There’s significantly more work to be done.”