Police to investigate dozens of baby deaths and injuries at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust
More than 1,700 cases of possible harm to babies and mothers are already being examined by senior midwife Donna Ockenden
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More than 1,700 cases of possible harm to newborns are already being examined by senior midwife Donna Ockenden, in the largest review into maternity units in UK history. Nottinghamshire Police said its decision to launch a criminal inquiry followed discussions with Ms Ockenden.
Families of babies and mothers affected by the review have “welcomed” the investigation. In a statement, they said: “There has been poor maternity care as well as poor investigation of that care at Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) NHS Trust over many years.
“We anticipate that we will be meeting with the Chief Constable soon to understand what the police investigation will mean for each and every one of us.
“We hope and believe it will encompass not just the care of seriously harmed babies and mothers, but also what families allege is a far-reaching cover-up by NUH and NHS staff.”
Announcing the inquiry on Thursday (7 September), Kate Meynell, chief constable of Nottinghamshire Police, said in a statement: “On Wednesday, I met with Donna Ockenden to discuss her independent review into maternity cases of potentially significant concern at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust and to build up a clearer picture of the work that is taking place.
“We want to work alongside the review but also ensure that we do not hinder its progress. However, I am in a position to say we are preparing to launch a police investigation.
“I have appointed the Assistant Chief Constable Rob Griffin to oversee the preparations and the subsequent investigation. Now we have met with Donna Ockenden, we plan to hold preliminary discussions with some local families in the near future.”
The announcement follows an investigation launched in June 2020 by West Mercia Police into maternity practices at the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust. This came after an independent review there, also conducted by Ms Ockenden, found that 201 babies and nine mothers could have survived with better maternity care over a two-decade period.
“We are currently looking at the work being done in Shrewsbury and Telford by West Mercia Police to understand how they conducted their investigation alongside Donna Ockenden’s review and any lessons learnt,” said chief constable Meynell.
Nottinghamshire Police added that Anthony May, the chief executive of NUH, had committed to fully co-operate with the investigation.
He commented in a statement: “From the time of my appointment at NUH, I have expressed my commitment to the Independent Review. I have given the same commitment to the Chief Constable in respect of any police investigation.
“I also reiterate the commitment we made to the families involved at our Annual Public Meeting in July of an honest and transparent relationship with them. My colleagues and I work closely with the review team led by Donna Ockenden, to ensure transparent and full engagement.”