Solicitors representing a number of Nottingham families who received failings in their maternity care have said the findings of the Ockenden Review “go much wider”. Switalskis Solicitors, which represents the parents of Harriet Hawkins, Wynter Andrews and Adele O’Sullivan, all of whom died after failures of care at Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH), welcomed the report into maternity practices at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust.
The report, released by senior midwife Donna Ockenden on Tuesday, March 26, found babies’ deaths were often not investigated and grieving parents were not listened to. This meant, she said, “failures in care were repeated” and some mothers were even blamed for their own deaths.
Suzanne Munroe, director and head of clinical negligence at Switalskis Solicitors, said: “As a specialist firm acting for many children and families of those who have sustained a birth injury or lost their baby, we are acutely aware that maternity services have seen enormous pressures over (at least) the last decade. We absolutely support the need for positive change that enables those who work within those services to provide the standard of care that then protects families.
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“It has become very clear that it is the systems and processes at senior levels that need to be addressed. In the cases we are dealing with we have seen throughout multiple trusts that problems exist at a senior level which then filter down to those who provide the care. We have seen toxic work environments, poor staffing levels, unsustainable targets that do not support the safe provision of care to families all contributing to the outcomes that Donna Ockenden has reported on today.
A review is currently being undertaken into the maternity services at NUH, with many bereaved families calling for a public inquiry. “Clearly these findings echo what we see time and time again and there needs to be action, not just in Shrewsbury, or Nottingham,” continued Ms Munroe. “The issues identified are not exclusive to the Ockenden report. We believe they go much wider.
“We sincerely hope that serious lessons can be learned from this report to bring about real change so that trust can be placed in maternity services across the country. We see these tragedies happening over and over again – families live with the consequences and their lives are changed forever and this just cannot go on.”