Nottingham families meet in West Bridgford to discuss the Nottingham Maternity Inquiry and Making Real Change

On Saturday 17th February 2024, over 100 people, including families affected by the maternity crisis in Nottingham and their supporters, gathered together in West Bridgford, Nottingham, to discuss the progress that had been made into Donna Ockenden’s inquiry and, crucially, to discuss what steps still needed to take place.

One of the groups to speak at the meeting were The Maternity Safety Alliance, a body of families campaigning for safer maternity services, who were present to discuss the work they are doing to campaign for a national public inquiry into the maternity failings. They not only want the local failings to be highlighted and improved, but they want an overarching statutory inquiry which would mean that legal powers would be given to compel witnesses to give evidence and would limit the Government’s control, making any inquiry as independent as possible. The Maternity Safety Alliance are clear that despite the local investigations and national schemes, there has not yet been real change and so they are urging everyone to come together to back their campaign and push for real change.

Jane Williams, Partner and head of the Clinical Negligence team in Nottingham, has recently spoken to this issue on ITV news, noting that “a statutory enquiry would hopefully bring the sea change that we need in maternity care across the country, particularly given the number of previous reviews and enquiries”.

Jane Williams and Gemma Bedford, Managing Associate in the Clinical Negligence team, were in attendance and were humbled by the devastating stories shared by many of the families. It was clear to both Jane and Gemma that there was a strong force for change, but that it is now time for everyone to come together as one voice and as a collective as this would be the best, and maybe only, was to trigger the changed required.

With Donna Ockenden’s review looking to be the largest yet, with over 1,800 families involved, it is more important than ever for the families of Nottingham to come together. Unfortunately, the report is not expected to be published until the end of 2025, however Freeths are clear that, whilst the outcome is eagerly awaited, the families at the heart of it are not to be forgotten and Freeths are keen to continue to push forward to work towards getting justice for families in the meantime.

Sadly, the meeting did highlight that challenges had been, and were continuing to be, felt particularly by families of ethnic minorities. Donna Ockenden has previously highlighted this issues and has called for as much information as possible from these families to help ensure that change in this regard is made. It is Freeths’ hope that now those affected are automatically opted in to the review unless they specifically chose to “opt out”, a true reflection of what has been taking place in Nottingham will be identified and improved.

As clinical negligence lawyers we have been contacted and represent a number of families and children who have suffered or have lost loved ones as a result of failures in maternity care during labour and birth. These claims seek to ensure that any child who has suffered a preventable injury can access the services they require such as care, therapy, aids and equipment, and suitably adapted accommodation which may assist them during their lives. For those who have sadly suffered loss we can help to secure support and therapy to help those suffering to come to terms with these devastating events. We can also help secure an apology from the Trust responsible and seek to ensure the same mistakes are not made again. 

Our Head of Clinical Negligence, East Midlands & North East, Jane Williams, speaks to ITV News Central, about the Nottingham maternity investigation.

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