Hospital's maternity unit improvements won't be box ticking, chiefs say

ESNEFT bosses are implementing recommendations from the Ockenden report at Ipswich and Colchester hospitals

ESNEFT bosses are implementing recommendations from the Ockenden report at Ipswich and Colchester hospitals - Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN/GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO/ARCHANT

Hospital chiefs say they will have put in place the recommendations from a "stark and chilling" report into NHS midwifery by the end of October.

At a recent East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) board meeting, bosses discussed the findings of the Ockenden report and how they could put its recommendations into place.

The Ockenden report into Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust found “repeated errors in care” that led to the deaths of more than 200 babies and uncovered the UK’s biggest maternity scandal.

The review identified 15 “immediate and essential actions which must be implemented by all trusts in England providing maternity services”.

Giles Thorpe, ESNEFT's chief nurse, said: "Needless to say for those of us who have read the Ockenden report, it is stark and it is chilling. There's a lot of learning that needs to and should come out of this report – not only for maternity services, but more widely across healthcare."

Chief nurse, Giles Thorpe

Chief nurse, Giles Thorpe - Credit: ESNEFT

Some recommendations from the Ockenden report were announced in December 2020, and bosses said they had seen "significant progress" when it came to putting these in place.

Among the report's key recommendations were ensuring that maternity wards had safe levels of staffing, not allowing newly qualified midwives to work outside of hospitals and making sure that incidents were properly investigated. 

Mr Thorpe said that "all of the outstanding actions" will have begun to be put in place by the end of October.

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He said he had a "strong degree of confidence" in the Trust's ability to recruit new midwives from abroad and as students to fill ensure that it had appropriate levels of staff. 

He added: "It is positive to note that the actions specifically related to listening to women and families have been completely evidenced and are assured."

When quizzed by another board member, Mr Thorpe said there was "planning in place" to ensure that standards in maternity and obstetrics services did not slip once new actions had been put in place.

He said: "This absolutely will not become a tick box exercise."

Hospital bosses are already running a "major improvement programme" following Ipswich Hospital's maternity unit being rated as Requires Improvement by the Care Quality Commission in June 2021.