Police are preparing to launch an investigation into baby deaths and injuries at an under-review NHS trust.
Nottinghamshire Police’s Chief Constable Kate Meynell said the decision to prepare a criminal probe probe was taken after a meeting with midwife Donna Ockenden, who is currently reviewing care at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.
Families of babies affected by the review have “welcomed” the force’s decision to launch an investigation.
In a statement issued on behalf of some of the families affected, they said: “A large number of us have alleged crimes and we will be sharing our evidence with the police to assist them with their investigations.”
Announcing an investigation was being prepared, Ms Meynell said: “We are currently looking at the work being done in Shrewsbury and Telford by West Mercia Police to understand how they conducted their investigation alongside Donna Ockenden’s review and any lessons learnt.
“Now we have met with Donna Ockenden we plan to hold preliminary discussions with some local families in the near future.”
The force said Anthony May, NUH’s chief executive, had committed to fully co-operate with the police investigation.
Ms Ockenden’s review is looking into failings at the trust’s maternity units at the Queen’s Medical Centre and City Hospital over recent years.
It was prompted by a long-running campaign by bereaved parents.
Last Friday marked the first anniversary of the launch of the review, which is expected to be the biggest maternity investigation in NHS history and will include around 1,800 families and around 700 staff.
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.”
Ms Ockenden led a similar review into maternity care at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust, which conclude that failures could have led to the deaths of more than 200 babies.
In a statement, Mr May, who joined the trust in 2022, said he was committed to assisting police in the inquiry.
He said: “Today I have been notified by the Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire Police, Kate Meynell, that she is preparing to launch a police investigation to work alongside the independent review into maternity services at NUH.”
“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.
“My colleagues and I work closely with the review team led by Donna Ockenden, to ensure transparent and full engagement. This includes meeting regularly with Donna in order listen and take action on feedback. We publish Donna’s feedback on our website, and will soon be publishing our response to the feedback we have received so far. The trust will also now also cooperate fully with any police investigation.”
“In the meantime, we will continue with our maternity improvement programme, which is driving changes in our maternity services. These changes include staffing levels, training, compliance with guidelines, record keeping and the provision and use of equipment. Recently, the Care Quality Commission inspected our maternity services and informally reported improvements. The detailed formal CQC report will be published on 13 September, so the public will be able to judge the impact of our improvement work.”