Review Into Nottingham NHS Maternity Failings: One Year On

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Kate Sweeney

Head of Clinical Negligence

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Following a joint investigation by the Independent and Channel 4 News which revealed repeated maternity failings at the Queen's Medical Centre and Nottingham City Hospital on June 2021, an independent review led by senior midwife Donna Ockenden was shortly launched; and we’ve now hit that independent review’s one year anniversary.

The joint investigation by Channel 4 and The Independent found that dozens of babies had died or been left with brain damage in the care of Nottingham Maternity Unit. From 2010 until 2020, there were found to have been at least 46 babies who suffered brain damage, and 15 deaths at the unit for mother and baby – which has now prompted an inquiry into over 1,700 cases.

Ms Ockenden was previously responsible for leading the investigation of the UK’s largest maternity scandal in Shrewsbury and Telford and it was announced in May 2022 that she would be appointed Chair of a new review into failings at the Nottingham University Hospitals Trust.

Although a review of maternity services in Nottingham were already underway before the announcement, bereaved families had expressed growing concerns about the speed and independence of the inquiry. This led them to meet with former Health Secretary Sajid Javid in May 2022 to ask that Ms Ockenden take over the investigation.

In this article, we’ve broken down what the review involved, where it is now, and how a Medical Negligence Solicitor could help you if you’ve suffered inadequate treatment throughout your pregnancy or in childbirth.

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If you or your child has suffered as a result of medical negligence during birth, get in touch with our experienced team.

What were the results of the review?

The Independent Review into Maternity Services at the Nottingham University Hospital (NUH) NHS was launched in May 2022, following those significant concerns raised regarding the quality of the maternity services. Donna Ockendon was the chair of the independent review, along with being part of the leading team of experienced doctors and midwives who delved into the review of cases of serious and potentially serious concerns in the maternity services at this hospital. Though the review is still very much underway, as the Trust will be communicating with every family that has a concern, there are certain points that have been addressed thus far.

The year-on video launched by Ms. Ockenden herself states the following messages:

  • Within five months of the independent review (By January 2023), The Trust had sent more than 1,000 letters to families across Nottinghamshire, and they are now involved in the review – which is growing constantly.
  • By March 2024, the Trust was filming videos in 6 different languages to community and faith groups across Nottinghamshire, hoping to make their message heard across the county – and reach as far as Derbyshire and beyond.
  • The next year hopes to have more videos and informational videos created in many more formats.
  • They have tried to reach as many communities in possible
  • Opt-out methodology: rather than opt-in, means individuals only need to get in contact with the Trust if they wish to be opted out and not have their case considered. This means the trust can review all the cases without you needing to get in touch.
  • This is central to making maternity services safer and more inclusive to those who need it most.
  • Ockenden meets every two months with the trust to contribute new improvements.
  • A system oversight framework was established, monitoring progress of both immediate safety concerns and the Transformation & Change Programme.

For a full review of the methodology that is in place at present, read the terms of reference here.

What Does the Review Involve?

Ms Ockenden is examining more than 1,700 cases where babies died or their mothers suffered harm while in the care of Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust – making it the largest maternity scandal in UK history.

On her appointment to chair person, Ms Ockenden said:

“Having a baby is one of the most important times for a family and when women and their babies come into contact with the NHS Maternity Service they should receive the very best and safest care. We already know that improvements to maternity care need to be made across the country and families in Nottingham have been through experiences that no family should ever have to go through.”

Included as part of the ongoing review is a call for all families affected to continue coming forward*.

Some impacted families have been lobbying for an independent inquiry for years, and they are also urging other parents to take part in the review – which is why the new opt-out scheme has been adopted by Ms. Ockenden, to make sure that every parent’s words are being listened to.

Both Ms Ockenden and the parents who have campaigned for this inquiry want to make sure that no voices are left unheard. This is reflected in a statement by Ms Ockenden’s team that states it is of “paramount importance” that the review is as comprehensive as possible.

As Medical Negligence Lawyers, we’re pleased that after many years of campaigning, bereaved families in Nottinghamshire will have the opportunity to have their stories heard as part of an independent and thorough review.

I’ve Suffered Medical Negligence – How Could a Solicitor Help Me?

If you or a family member has suffered medical negligence, either during pregnancy or in childbirth, you could be entitled to claim for compensation.

There are a wide range of injuries, conditions and illnesses that may result from insufficient care during pregnancy or at birth, some common examples include:

  • Cerebral Palsy – a neurological disorder that affects movement and coordination. In the most severe cases, Cerebral Palsy can result in disability that will require lifelong care.
  • Erb’s Palsy – a physical disorder affecting nerves in the shoulders. Erb’s Palsy can be caused by trauma during birth and it can lead to loss of feeling, weakness and in more severe cases, paralysis of the affected arm.
  • Klumpke’s Palsy – a physical condition that damages nerves in the arm, affecting the forearm and hand. This can result in limited movement which can sometimes heal on its own but will often require surgery and further therapy.
  • Still birth – a stillborn baby is one that dies after the 24th week of pregnancy. There can be several reasons for this happening, including birthing trauma, infections, pre-eclampsia and prematurity.

Medical negligence can also result in mothers suffering unnecessary harm. In addition to surgery errors during Caesarean sections, some common injuries we see that affect mothers include:

  • Perineal tears – although perineal tears are not unusual, failure to recognise and deal with more severe tears can lead to further side effects such as pain and problems with the bowel.
  • Retained products of conception – this refers to any form of tissue left in the uterus after a birth which can cause internal bleeding and an increased risk of infection.

We understand that the thought of taking legal action can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re grieving or coming to terms with the injuries you or your child has sustained.

Contact us

Our Medical Negligence Solicitors have years of combined experience and will guide you through the claims process with empathy and understanding throughout. If you’re not sure if you’re eligible to make a claim, call us on 0808 134 9722 for a free claims assessment, where we’ll let you know if you have a strong case before proceeding any further.

*This inquiry will be ongoing for a while to come, so if you're concerned with the maternity care you received at Nottingham City Hospital or the Queen's Medical Centre, please consider sending your story to [email protected]


Channel 4 News. (2023, October 24). Revealed: Over 30 deaths in Nottingham maternity units scandal.

Ockenden Maternity Review. (n.d.). The Independent Review into Maternity Services at the Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) NHS Trust: One Year On.

Telegraph. (2023, July 10). Nottingham baby deaths inquiry: Donna Ockenden to investigate 1,700 cases.

Simpson Millar Solicitors. (n.d.). Report Outlines Serious Failings in Maternity Care at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust. /media/medical-negligence/report-outlines-serious-failings-in-maternity-care-at-shrewsbury-telford-nhs-trust/

GOV.UK. (n.d.). Health and Social Care Secretary meets with Nottingham Maternity Review families.

Ockenden Maternity Review. (n.d.). Ockenden Maternity Review.

NHS England. (2023, July 8). Maternity Services at NUH: Letter from the Health and Social Care Secretary.

Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Integrated Care System. (2021, May). Terms of Reference: Independent Review of NUH Maternity Services.

BBC News. (2023, August 30). Nottingham University Hospitals face police inquiry into maternity failings.

The Guardian. (2023, September 7). Nottingham University Hospitals face police inquiry into maternity failings.

National Center for Biotechnology Information. (n.d.). Stillbirth. In StatPearls.

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