Nottingham maternity staff’s concerns ‘dismissed for years’, says union

A union representing staff at Nottingham’s hospitals says workers were ‘dismissed’ and ‘undermined’ after raising issues with its maternity services. UNISON, which represents more than 3,000 workers across Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) and its allied services, has backed the calls by bereaved families and local politicians for a public inquiry.

The NHS trust, which runs Queen’s Medical Centre and City Hospital, was served a warning letter by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) after it again found a number of concerns remained with its maternity department. This prompted families who had lost babies after failings at the hospitals to renew their calls for a full public inquiry.

Nottingham’s three MPs also backed the calls, saying NUH was “still not safe” for mothers and babies, joining councillors on both Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire County Council’s health scrutiny committees.

Read more: Renewed call for public inquiry into maternity services at Nottingham hospitals

Jamie Godber, NUH and Allied Services branch secretary at UNISON, said that maternity staff have raised concerns for years “only for them to be dismissed”. He said: “We have been calling for a public inquiry for a while now and welcome the support of Nottingham’s Labour MPs in backing this necessary step.

“Staff working in maternity have raised concerns for years over these issues only for them to be dismissed and have their clinical judgement undermined. So much tragedy could have been avoided if staff had been listened to when advocating for their patients.

“A recent Care Quality Commission inspection found there to be a systemic culture of bullying. How can staff feel safe raising concerns whilst this bullying culture persists?

“The Trust have made some moves in the right direction, but there is an awful lot of work still to be done and grief-stricken families have waited long enough already for maternity services at NUH to be addressed.”

NUH, which is already subject to a thematic review by the Nottingham CCG and NHS England, said it was “fully co-operating” with the review and that it was doing “everything in our power” to ensure the best possible care. Acting Chief Executive Officer, Rupert Egginton said: “We are taking the initial feedback that the CQC gave us following their visit in early March seriously, and we await their final report.

“Inspectors told us they wanted further assurances around triage and observations. From Monday, our triage service will separate out our emergency and planned appointments to make sure we are monitoring mothers and babies at every stage, and rapidly escalating any issues. This will improve the care and support available for everyone attending our maternity services.

“We know that we have challenges with staffing and we continue with our efforts with recruitment. The inspectors did highlight a number of improvements including positive feedback from families they spoke to about their care, our fetal monitoring and our teams working well together under strong leadership.

“Our staff remain committed to improving our maternity services at pace to give confidence to patients, colleagues and partners that we have improved the service and the care we provide.”