• Monday, October 02, 2023

NHS maternity review raises red flags about midwives

The head of the review said in the letter that mothers told her interpretation and translations services are “very hit and miss”

By: Eastern Eye

THE head of a review into maternity care in Nottingham said there is a “recurring theme” of midwives not listening to women who say they are in labour, writes Anna Whittaker.

Donna Ockenden is running the largest maternity review in NHS history at Nottingham University Hospitals Trust (NUH). As part of the scrutiny, covering the Queen’s Medical Centre and Nottingham City Hospital, Ockenden and her team regularly share findings with the trust and NHS England.

At the most recent meeting on June 21, Ockenden met trust chief executive Anthony May, chief nurse Michelle Rhodes and medical director Dr Keith Girling.

Ockenden then sent a letter on August 8 to May in which she raised several concerns.

She explained that she met families, including parents who experienced the death of their baby at the trust two years ago; two families of mothers who had died; and parents who are managing the 24-hour care needs of profoundly unwell children following birth at the units.

The letter, made public last Thursday (24), said: “During the recent holy month of Ramadan, despite the fact I had highlighted it to the trust before Ramadan as an issue that occurred last year, women told me they were still told to ‘break their fast’ for some blood tests and told there was no flexibility for early or later blood tests.

“Since the timing of Ramadan is known about in advance, this extra provision in blood testing could have been planned for in advance and I sincerely hope it will be next year.

“Women were repeatedly told they are not in labour, ‘it’s Braxton Hicks’. One woman was recently told this at 33 weeks of pregnancy, even though she had a history of previous pre-term labour and she should have been admitted for assessment.

“Other women are told they could not be in labour and to stay at home ‘if they can talk on the phone.’ Women not being believed they are in labour when they call the trust for assistance seems to be a recurring theme.”

Ockenden said in the letter that mothers told her interpretation and translations services are “very hit and miss”. This included mothers who require emergency caesarean sections, some of whom signed consent forms without understanding what they were signing. Others had to phone relatives to have a three-way conversation.

She added that parents were being told by the maternity team their notes had been ‘lost’ by the trust – despite these being held electronically by the review team.

Rhodes said the team was “grateful for the continued and regular feedback”.

“Our teams are committed to improving services. We are proud the work of the taskforce was recognised for making progress in a number of areas with black and minority ethnic groups, as well as the important work midwives are leading with the homeless and asylum seekers,” she said. (Local Democracy Reporting Service)

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