NHS announces Donna Ockenden as chair of Nottingham University Hospitals maternity review

NHS England has confirmed that Donna Ockenden has been appointed as Chair of the new independent review into maternity services at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.

In a letter to families affected today, NHS Chief Operating Officer Sir David Sloman confirmed that Donna Ockenden has accepted the role of chair of the rapid review.

The current review team will publish their interim findings today, outlining areas for improvement to ensure the safety of mums and babies in the care of Nottingham University Hospitals, which will bring an end to their work on the review.

In light of concerns raised by families, NHS England will make sure these improvements are made immediately in the trust and will work on new terms of reference with Donna Ockenden so her work can begin as soon as possible.

Donna Ockenden has more than 30 years’ experience of working within a variety of health settings both in the UK and internationally. She led the independent review of maternity services at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, the final report of which was published earlier this year.

Sir David Sloman, Chief Operating Officer at NHS England and Improvement, said: “We are sorry for the distress caused to the families in the delay in announcing a new chair for the review.

“We know we need to get this right for the families who have experienced such terrible loss and been through so much pain already.

“We have listened to the concerns raised and we want to ensure the new review addresses them – it must support families to share their views and their experiences so that vital improvements can be made for mums, families and babies in Nottingham.

“Given Donna Ockenden’s wealth of experience, we are pleased that she has agreed to chair the review – we will start work together now to develop the terms of reference so that her vital work can begin without any further delays.

“The NHS is absolutely committed to ensuring that the new review delivers much-needed improvements to maternity care for families across Nottingham”.

On her appointment, Donna 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 NHS maternity services 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.

“I am delighted to have been asked by Sir David Sloman to take up the role of chair of this review and will be engaging with families shortly as my first priority. I look forward to working with and listening to families and staff, and working with NHS England and NHS Improvement to deliver a review and recommendations that lead to real change and safer care for women, babies and families in Nottingham as soon as possible”.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “It’s absolutely vital that mothers and babies have access to the best possible care and I was deeply moved by the stories of families who have suffered from these tragic failings – my sympathies remain with all of them.

“I want to thank Donna Ockenden for stepping up to lead this crucial independent review – Donna will bring with her a wealth of experience, particularly following her work on the review of Shrewsbury and Telford maternity services – and I look forward to seeing her recommendations for urgent improvements.

“We will continue to take all the steps necessary to ensure no families have to go through this pain again”.