NHS chief admits hospital was not a safe environment for mothers and babies

Leaked message to NHS trust staff comes after revelations of poor maternity care at one of England’s largest trusts

Shaun Lintern
Health Correspondent
Thursday 01 July 2021 20:12
<p>Nottingham University Hospitals Trust is facing criticism over its maternity services</p>

Nottingham University Hospitals Trust is facing criticism over its maternity services

The chief executive of Nottingham University Hospitals Trust has admitted the trust did not create an environment where midwives could provide safe care to women and babies.

In a leaked message sent to staff at the trust on Thursday, and obtained by The Independent, Tracy Taylor, who took over as chief executive in 2017, told staff the revelations made for “difficult reading”.

She said: “We fully accept that, although our maternity team are passionate about what they do, we have not created an environment where these same staff can provide a positive and safe experience for every family in their care, every time.

“When we make mistakes and do not get that care right, we know that the effects can be devastating and we have apologised from the bottom of our hearts to the families who have not received the high level of care they need and deserve.”

Her admission comes after The Independent revealed dozens of babies have died at the trust in recent years with clinical negligence costs reaching £91m. There have been 15 deaths, 19 stillbirths and 46 children left brain damaged because of errors at the East Midlands trust.

Managers have been labelled a “Teflon team” who ignored warnings about staff shortages which contributed to unsafe care.

It has now emerged the Care Quality Commision has warned the trust it may launch a criminal prosecution against it for its failure to provide safe care to baby Wynter Andrews, who died as a result of gross failings by the trust in 2019.

Baby Wynter was starved of oxygen after long delays in labour and an inquest into her death in 2020 ruled it was contributed to by neglect. The coroner criticised the trust’s unsafe culture. An inspection by the CQC rated the trust’s maternity services as inadequate in December last year.

Sending a message to staff, Tracy Taylor said it had now hired an extra 37 midwives and was determined to improve services.

She said: “Improving our maternity services is one of our top priorities and we know how tirelessly colleagues in maternity are working to make those improvements.

“Since September 2020 we have hired 37 midwives, including a new director of midwifery, and we are ensuring everyone working in maternity is up-to-date with the training they need to do their job. We have invested in new equipment to assist our staff in their roles and we are improving our digital maternity records, to ensure that every staff member can easily access the data to help inform the care they provide. We have also improved our early risk assessment of those in our care.

“We know there is a lot more to do but, by working with our staff and partners and by listening and learning from the families using our services, we are committed to achieving the improvements required.”

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