Inquiry into poor maternity care will be led by independent clinicians and will involve families
In a letter to families seen by O Independente, health officials have said the planned review could also uncover new incidents of poor care where families were not aware of what happened to them.
The investigation is being commissioned by the NHS after an investigation by The independent and Channel 4 News revealed dozens of baby deaths and children left brain damaged after mistakes in care over a 10-year period.
Parents have accused the trust of a lack of transparency over mistakes and attempts to cover-up poor care. The trust’s maternity unit has been rated inadequate by the Care Quality Commission after multiple safety concerns.
Mês passado, health minister Nadine Dorries promised families would get an independent investigation of the trust’s maternity services but until now the NHS has not confirmed any details or engaged with families, sparking concerns over whether it would deliver.
But now the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group, which commissions health services for the region, has set out its details of the planned inquiry and promised it will be fully independent, with families given a say in how it will work.
In a letter to the parents of baby Harriet Hawkins, who was stillborn at the trust’s City Hospital in 2016 after a catalogue of failures, the CCG’s accountable officer Amanda Sullivan said: “I share your level of concern about the services.”
Ela adicionou: “There is a clear commitment to the review being independently led, externally delivered and that staff involved in the review will be independent of [Nottingham University Hospitals Trust].
“It is vital that our communities can trust their local maternity services and I will do what I can to help achieve this again.”
Harriet’s parents Jack and Sarah were concerned the inquiry would not look at historical concerns prior to 2016, but Ms Sullivan said: “There is a need to look at patterns of events over a longer period of time before concluding the final timescale of the review.
“I do, Contudo, fully recognise that issues at NUH are not historical and will therefore need to ensure that the review can identify current and ongoing issues and, critically, safe and rapid improvements – in order to improve the care and outcomes at the trust’s maternity services.
“We are working with NUH on a daily basis to get assurances around safety.”
She said the extent of the investigation “does mean that harm may be identified where families may have been unaware; in such instances, these will be escalated to the trust to ensure appropriate actions are taken in relation to reporting incidents, reclamações, concerns and the duty of candour.”
The CCG has confirmed to O Independente that the inquiry’s terms of reference will be agreed with families who will have a role in shaping how it works and over what timescale it examines.
Jack and Sarah told O Independente: “We are pleased that things appear to be moving forward. We are still worried about the independence of this review but will take part with open hearts and will encourage other harmed families to do the same.
“Something actually needs to change, seeing as we have been trying to get people to listen to us for over five years. We will continue to help the hospital and the CCGs to be honest both with themselves and the public.
“We would encourage any families with concerns over the care they received to come forward now and be part of this review.”
More than a dozen families are currently bringing clinical negligence claims against the trust, Com mais de 30 actively raising concerns with lawyers after O Independente’s investigation was published.
Natalie Cosgrove, from Switalskis Solicitors, met with the CCG on Friday morning.
Ela disse: “Whilst the initial discussions and proposals appear encouraging. The families hope that this time their voices are heard and positive changes are made. It’s important that families feel empowered and trust that significant improvements are made. I represent many families who have lost faith and I will continue to do so until real change is made and babies and parents safety is priority.”
Ms Sullivan, from the CCG, contado O Independente: “We are currently finalising the scope of our review and are rightly spending time consulting with families affected before we do. We are determined to make improvements to maternity care at the trust and will quickly take any action needed on any concerns raised throughout the course of the review.”
The CCG said the investigation will be led by clinical experts from outside the Nottingham area and the full terms of reference for its works will be published as well as the final report and any recommendations.
It will be jointly commissioned by NHS England and the CCG, who will have no role in its final conclusions.
Nottingham University Hospitals Trust is recruiting 70 midwives to the unit and drawing up an improvement plan for the maternity service. The trust has said it will cooperate with any inquiry.
On a second visit to the trust earlier this year the Care Quality Commission said there were signs of improvement.