Ockenden Report: Safe staffing and accountability among 'must-do' improvements

The Ockenden report has raised 15 areas for "immediate and essential action" to improve care and safety in maternity services across England.

Maternity expert Donna Ockenden has listed a series of actions for Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals Trust to improve
Maternity expert Donna Ockenden has listed a series of actions for Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals Trust to improve

An inquiry into the Shropshire maternity scandal found at least 201 babies and nine mothers could have been saved if Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals Trust (SaTH) had provided better care.

Areas such as safe staffing, escalation and accountability, clinical governance and robust support for families have all been included as "must dos" by maternity expert Donna Ockenden in the 234-page document.

SaTH - which has issued a 'wholehearted apology' to families - has also been handed 60 local actions for learning, in light of care received by 1,486 families.

The report said maternity and neonatal services in England require a multi-year settlement from NHS England "to ensure the workforce is enable to deliver consistently safe" care.

It also stated staffing levels across maternity services should be escalated to senior management when the agreed levels are not achieved. Staff being able to escalate concerns and incident investigations being meaningful for families have both been described as essential action that needs to be taken across the country.

Families finally got to read the report into the Shropshire maternity scandal

The report said staff who work together must train together, and should attend regular mandatory training, while women who choose birth outside of hospital should receive accurate advice.

Appropriate bereavement care services should be put in place for mothers who suffer loss during pregnancy and clear pathways of care should be in place for provision of neonatal care, the report said.

The mental health and wellbeing of mothers also forms part of the essential action, with partners and families as "integral" to all aspects of maternity service provision.

The document indicates every trust should have a "patient safety specialist" dedicated to maternity services, and that all leaders are trained in human factors such as family engagement.

Language in investigation reports should also be easy to understand for families, the report says.

The report found hundreds of examples where babies and mothers could have survived with better care

At a press conference on Wednesday morning, Ms Ockenden said: "It is absolutely clear that there is an urgent need for a robust and funded England-wide maternity workforce plan starting right now, without delay, and continuing over multiple years.

"This is essential to address the present and future requirements for midwives, obstetricians, anaesthetists, neonatal teams and equipment, and all the associated staff working in and around maternity services.

"Without this very significant multi-year investment, maternity services cannot provide safe and effective care for women and babies."

Ms Ockenden said 1,592 clinical incidents involving mothers and babies were reviewed as part of the inquiry.

A list of actions to improve patient care forms part of the report

"We now know that this is a trust that failed to investigate, failed to learn and failed to improve.

"This resulted in tragedies and life-changing incidents for so many of our families," she said.

Ms Ockenden said the final report spans the period from 2000 to 2019, but said she is "deeply concerned" that families continue to contact the review team in 2020 and 2021 raising concerns about the safety of maternity care they have received at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust.

"Some of these recent families contacted us with reports they wanted to share with us. We haven't been able to include them fully within the review but what we have seen is that the themes within their reports seem to echo concerns we have previously seen during this review.

"Seeing these repeated themes is a cause for grave concern."

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News