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Chair of review into another scandal-hit NHS maternity unit steps down for ‘personal reasons’ just two weeks after being appointed by Sajid Javid

  • Julie Dent was tasked with reviewing Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust 
  • Senior NHS manager stepped down from role yesterday for ‘personal reasons’ 
  • 30 babies are thought to have died at the trust since it was founded in 2006 

The chairwoman of a review into another scandal-hit NHS maternity unit has stepped down for ‘personal reasons’ just two weeks after her appointment. 

Senior NHS manager Julie Dent was tasked with investigating Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust — where 30 babies are thought to have died — on April 22.

Her appointment was met with concern by the families affected by the tragedies, who said they were ‘severely let down, confused, and further traumatised’.

They had called for an independent review into the unit’s alleged failings led by midwife Donna Ockenden, who produced the report on Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) yesterday confirmed Ms Dent has stepped down from her role.

DHSC added it is working with NHS England to put in place the ‘right leadership’ to deliver an independent review looking into hundreds of cases of alleged poor care at Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH). 

The chairwoman of a review into Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust’s maternity unit has stepped down for ‘personal reasons’ just two weeks after her appointment. Pictured: Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham


Senior NHS manager Julie Dent (left) was tasked with investigating the trust — where 30 babies are thought to have died — on April 22. She stepped down yesterday. Families called for an independent review into the unit’s alleged failings led by midwife Donna Ockenden (right), who produced the report on Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust 

Mr Javid met with some of the families involved in the review — launched in July 2021 — yesterday and they will be now contacted by the NHS about the next steps.

He said: ‘I met with families to listen and understand their concerns about the review into maternity services at Nottingham University Hospitals.

‘My sympathies remain with all those tragically affected by these harrowing failures and I acknowledge the courage and strength shown by all.

‘It is crucial that the best possible leadership is in place to deliver an independent review that leads to real change, what is the drug lithium carbonate used for and I am working with the NHS to deliver on this and ensure no families have to go through the same pain again.’

DHSC said the NHS recognises there is more to do to improve the engagement and communication with families, and this is a priority as a new review process is established.

It added that the NHS remains committed to ensuring that the experiences of families, any themes identified across maternity safety incidents, and concerns raised, all drive rapid improvements in care for women and babies in Nottingham.

The current thematic review — looking at data from 2006 when the NUH trust was formed until mid-October 2021 — was initiated last summer.

It was announced after it was revealed the trust had paid out millions of pounds because of 30 baby deaths and 46 infants left brain damaged.

The review is being led by the local clinical commissioning group (CCG) and NHS England, and is expected to be completed by November 2022. 

Some 100 mothers wrote to Mr Javid to criticise the review on April 7 this year, arguing not enough had been done over the six months.

They called for Ms Ockenden — who exposed Britain’s biggest maternity scandal in Shrewsbury and Telford, where at least 201 babies and nine mothers died because of substandard care — to lead a separate enquiry.

Ms Ockenden told BBC Radio Shropshire at the time that she had responded to the families.

She said was ‘deeply honoured’ by their request to have her chair the review, but added the decision was not for her to make.

DHSC announced on April 25 it had made changes to the NHS review and appointed Ms Dent as the new chair.

The families hit back at the announcement, adding it ‘demonstrates a lack of willingness to properly engage with the families affected and is at odds with what is needed from a truly independent review’.

They said: ‘In fact, since we went public with our grave concerns over the current review — nearly three weeks ago — not one person from NUH, the CCG nor NHSEI has been in contact with us.

‘We are heartened to have support on Twitter supporting our serious misgivings regarding the appointment process and choice of chair, Julie Dent.’ 

Coroner slams ‘shocking’ failings at maternity unit where week-old baby died after his skull was fractured by forceps during birth 

A coroner slammed care given to a mother whose week-old baby Kaylan Coates died following a catalogue of hospital blunders as ‘nothing short of shocking’

A coroner slammed the care given to a mother whose week-old baby died following a catalogue of hospital blunders as ‘nothing short of shocking’.

Tiny Kaylan Coates suffered serious injuries including skull fractures during a forceps delivery and died from a hospital infection days later.

Staff at Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre ignored pregnant Hayley Coates’ pleas for a Caesarean section and did not spot her baby’s signs of distress, an inquest was told.

Despite being a high-risk patient, she was allocated a newly qualified midwife – and maternity ward staff failed to monitor her properly despite having time to socialise and shop online, a legal representative for Ms Coates told the inquest.

A coroner last year ruled that the tragedy, which left the young mother ‘broken and in shock’, ‘could and should have been avoided’ and neglect contributed to her baby’s death.

Kaylan was born on March 23, 2018 at the QMC in the city. During the delivery, he suffered prolonged bradycardia, a slow heart rate, and associated hypoxia, a condition where the brain is starved of oxygen.

A pathologist told Nottingham Coroner’s Court when Kaylan was finally delivered his skull was fractured by the use of forceps, leading to a bleed on the brain, causing further hypoxia.

At the end of a five-day hearing, Nottinghamshire Assistant Coroner Laurinda Bower returned a narrative verdict saying while an infection was the primary cause of death, neglect and ‘serious, multiple failings in his care’ had contributed to this.

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