Patient Safety Minister Nadine Dorries has confirmed that an independent external review of the maternity care at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust since 2016 is to be held.
The intended independent review will consider whether there was effective reporting, investigation and monitoring in line with the NHS serious incident framework and whether appropriate action was taken in response.
It follows an investigation by The Independent and Channel 4 News in June 2021 which revealed several key failures by the trust leading to avoidable baby deaths and serious injury, with the poor care stretching over the past decade.
The investigation revealed numerous flaws in the service, including inaccuracies in maternity medical records and a delay in investigation of baby deaths.
The trust provides maternity care to approximately 10,000 women every year, but the service was rated ‘inadequate’ in December 2020 by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
This was based on a series of failures identified in the risk assessment procedures implemented by the trust in addition to inadequate reporting of heart traces for babies, tragically leading to harm or death as a result.
An unannounced visit was made by the CQC in May 2021, who noted some improvements but said further changes were still needed, with the service remaining ‘inadequate.’
The announcement of the inquiry, revealed in the Independent, came as Nadine Dorries also confirmed that she will meet MPs over the issues to ensure monitoring of the trust.
Commenting on the announcement, Sharon Banga, a specialist medical negligence Principal associate solicitor based in Birmingham, said:
“This is yet another hospital trust that has failed to provide appropriate maternity care which has resulted in avoidable harm to occur and it is important that the failings are addressed via an independent inquiry.”
“We hope that the inquiry team will conduct a thorough investigation including the identification of any further action needed to rectify the issues raised by both the CQC and other recent investigations – it’s vital that lessons are learned and changes are implemented in the interest of patient safety and to avoid the same errors occurring time and time again.”
In the past few months, it has been reported that a number of maternity wards have been downgraded to “inadequate,” with Northwick Park Hospital, East Suffolk, Sheffield Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and North Essex Foundation Trust all included in recent inspections from the CQC.
Sarah Harper, clinical negligence specialist and legal director in our Northampton office, together with the Shoosmiths Serious Injury team, continue to support Sarah’s previous client with Campaign for Safer Births, a charity set up to reduce the avoidable deaths of babies and mothers during birth.