Donna Ockenden: Nottingham maternity services making improvements

Donna Ockenden has blonde hair and was wearing a navy blue dress at the time of the interview
Donna Ockenden, chair of the independent review of maternity services at Nottingham University Hospitals -Credit:Rucsandra Moldoveanu / Nottingham Post

The chair of an independent maternity review has warned there is a long way to go for women to have access to safe maternity services, but these are improving locally. Donna Ockenden launched an independent review into the maternity services at Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) NHS Trust in September 2022, following multiple failings that led to baby deaths and injuries, as well as injuries sustained by mothers.

More than 1,800 families have come forward so far, with the review team now conducting a "deep dive" into antenatal care. Antenatal care involves the care that mothers and babies receive throughout pregnancy - an "absolutely vital" process in the safe management of maternity patients.

This includes ultrasound scanning, antenatal screening for certain conditions, and antenatal diagnosis. In an update on the progress of the review on Tuesday, May 14, Ms Ockenden said: "We think that we're at the stage now where we can do a deep dive into antenatal care.

"The more information we receive and the more women that come forward, the more we'll be able to help the trust [NUH] improve. The more opportunities there are for women to get their voices heard and for the review team to act upon it and the trust to improve, the better."

The senior midwife explained that she has observed an ongoing learning and improvement process at NUH. The trust has recently been working on improving its translation and interpreting services, ensuring appointments are culturally sensitive to the needs of women.

Good progress has also been made regarding staffing levels. All improvement requests made to the review team are shared with the trust with the women's permission, with accounts of good practice also received.

The review has also started looking at reports of bullying among staff members on April 15, but it is currently "too early" for feedback on that to be released. Ms Ockenden said: "We have reminded the trust that they must take good care of their staff, and this includes former staff.

"We believe, and the trust agrees, that they have a duty of care to look after both current and former staff. We've reemphasised the need to ensure that the trust does have a really robust staff support structure for everyone who may have either previously worked or currently work for the trust."

More than 1,300 women have also contributed to an all-party parliamentary group report - the Birth Trauma Inquiry - including seven families from Nottingham. The report was published on Monday, May 13, and detailed the "uniformly horrifying" accounts.

Ms Ockenden said: "I think that what we need to do as a country now is absolutely take account of what women said yesterday. Overall, the country has got a huge amount to do to ensure that all women have access to safe, timely, and inclusive care.

"And it's now government's responsibility to ensure that all of these actions are put in place across the country." Those wishing to share their experiences with antenatal care with Ms Ockenden are asked to email