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Police announce criminal inquiry into Nottingham maternity deaths


A police investigation is being launched into failings that led to dozens of baby deaths and injuries at Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) NHS Trust.

The trust’s maternity units are already being examined in a review by senior midwife, Donna Ockenden which will become the largest ever carried out in the UK, involving about 1,800 families with about 700 current and former trust staff making contact.

Nottinghamshire Police said its decision to investigate followed discussions with Ms Ockenden whose team is looking into failings that led to babies dying or being injured at Nottingham City Hospital and the Queen's Medical Centre.

Nottinghamshire Police chief constable, Kate Meynell, said: "We are preparing to launch a police investigation and want to work alongside Donna Ockenden’s review but also ensure that we do not hinder its progress. I have appointed the assistant chief constable, Rob Griffin, to oversee the preparations and the subsequent investigation."

The announcement follows an investigation by West Mercia Police, launched in June 2020, into maternity practices at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust where an independent investigation, also conducted by Ms Ockenden, found that 201 babies and nine mothers could have survived with better maternity care during a 20-year period.

Ms Ockenden's review was prompted by a long-running campaign by bereaved parents.

Ms Ockenden she welcomed the police investigation and said in a social media post: "As the review chair, my team and I are absolutely committed to working with the police. I am grateful to the chief constable for her assurance that the police investigation will not delay the progress of our work."

A statement issued on behalf of the campaigning parents said: "We welcome the long-awaited news of this police investigation and we are very grateful to the chief constable, Kate Meynell, for her decision. There will be a wealth of information from victim families for her team to use.

"A large number of us have alleged crimes and we will be sharing our evidence with the police to assist them with their investigations. There has been poor maternity care as well as poor investigation of that care at Nottingham University Hospitals Trust over many years."

Jack and Sarah Hawkins, whose baby Harriet died in 2016, said they asked the trust to notify the police of her death at the time.

They told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: "This conversation has been repeated multiple times with senior people at NUH and with the local NHS over the 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."

The hospital trust's chief executive, Anthony May, said: "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."

Mr May added  that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) was due to publish an inspection report for the trust's maternity services.

Maternity units at the City Hospital and Queen's Medical Centre have been rated inadequate by the watchdog since 2020.