‘Bittersweet’ to see huge turnout to Nottingham Hospitals maternity meeting

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Around 100 people with experiences of poor maternity care at Nottingham University Hospitals Trust (NUH) for the first time to share their stories and call for a national public inquiry.

People from across the country attended the meeting at Lutterell Hall in West Bridgford on February 17.

Parents shared harrowing stories of babies and mothers who have died or been injured during care.

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Some families had never met others affected by poor care before.

Jack and Sarah Hawkins address attendees at the meeting. Photo: OtherJack and Sarah Hawkins address attendees at the meeting. Photo: Other
Jack and Sarah Hawkins address attendees at the meeting. Photo: Other

Jack Hawkins, who has campaigned for safe maternity services with his wife Sarah since their daughter Harriet’s death in 2016, told the audience: “It’s bittersweet seeing so many people here.”

Donna Ockenden is leading the largest review in NHS history into cases in Nottingham including stillbirth, neonatal deaths, brain damage and harm to mothers.

Around 1,800 families are expected to be involved in the process.

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Nottinghamshire Police is also running a criminal investigation into failings at the Queen’s Medical Centre (QMC) and City Hospital, called Operation Perth.

Maternity services at NUH are rated as ‘requires improvement’ by the healthcare watchdog.

NUH said improvements to maternity services were highlighted in its recent Care Quality Commission (CQC) report.

Sarah McCrackle, of Bilborough, attended the meeting having never met other families.

Her son David Junior died in 2013.

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She said when she went into labour at home, she was told there were no available beds at QMC.

She said: “I went to hospital many hours later but they still said there weren’t any beds.

“We were left in antenatal for another three hours for a scan.

Unfortunately when the scan was done, Junior had already passed.

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“It felt very empowering to come here today, it has been a long time coming.

Felicity Benyon was left with lifelong injuries after giving birth to her second child at QMC.

She said policies and procedures weren’t followed during her care.

NUH has accepted liability in her case.

After the meeting Ms Benyon said: “For me, today was about getting to meet other families and making sure they don’t feel they’re on their own.

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“It’s heartbreaking to know that other people have had to go through similar things to you.”

Mr Hawkins added: “We don’t have the confidence yet that NUH has grasped just how serious this is in their maternity department.

“We’ve reached that conclusion because we have been contacted by families to whom this is still happening.”

Anthony May, NUH chief executive, said: “I am grateful to the families who have arranged the event.

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"I hope those who attended were able to share their experiences, support each other, and learn about the current review of maternity services.

“If there are issues coming out of the event which we need to address, I would be very happy to receive feedback.

"I remain committed to a new relationship with families because I want to use their experiences to help us improve.

“Colleagues in our maternity services are focused on improvement.

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"This was acknowledged in the latest CQC inspection, which moved our overall rating from inadequate to requires improvement.

"In addition, a recent CQC survey showed some encouraging signs, particularly in the experience of labour and birth.”

He acknowledged ‘there is more work to do’ and said the trust is supporting the independent review by Donna Ockenden.