The number of deaths and injuries to newborn babies and mothers in Nottingham is set to be the biggest maternity scandal in the NHS.
More than 1,700 cases of possible harm are now being examined at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.
The independent midwife leading the investigation, Donna Ockenden, has told Sky News: “I’ve seen an awful lot of evidence that local Nottinghamshire families were simply not listened to.
“They were disregarded, they were pushed away and the door was closed. And with that culture learning is going to be lost.”
Addressing a public meeting that was attended by bereaved families, the chair of the trust admitted patients had been let down.
Nick Carver said: “For too long we have failed to listen to women and families who have been affected by failings in our maternity services.
“This ‘brick wall’ has caused additional pain, and this must change.
“Families should not have to fight to get the answers they deserve and we are committed to gaining their trust, and the trust of all our communities by listening and engaging with them.
“Some families who we have had the chance to meet have told us they want a meaningful apology, that they recognise as meeting their needs, including accountability and a change in the culture. We will work with them and other families to make that happen.”
Image: Donna Ockenden said families were ‘simply not listened to’ Families ‘never brought their baby home’
Updating the meeting on the progress of the investigation by her team of experts, Ms Ockenden said: “I know there are families who never brought their baby home.
“Or babies who did come home, but died very shortly afterwards.
“And I know that there are little boys and girls out there in Nottinghamshire today without their mummy as we all celebrate the end of the school year.
“I know there are women living with life changing harm. And how do I know that this is true? Because I have met those families.”
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‘There is a disparity … tackle it’ Sarah Hawkins, whose daughter Harriet was stillborn at Nottingham City Hospital in 2016, has been among the parents who have helped uncover the scale of failings at the trust.
“We’re talking about empty car seats, we’re talking about tiny white coffins, you know and this was all preventable,” she told Sky News.
“I feel basically we haven’t been able to grieve Harriet, it’s just been this continuous fight. And also it’s just emotional as well.”
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Ms Hawkins added: “Today it’s a bittersweet moment.
“I’m hopeful that what they say is right and the brick wall will come down and they will listen to families.
“I’m holding on to that hope but I’m also holding onto the hope of seeing some action from those words too.”