Listening to families is focus for Blackpool following Ockenden maternity review

Listening to the needs of families and staff is crucial to ensuring Blackpool's maternity unit offers the best possible service, hospital bosses have been told.

By Shelagh Parkinson
Friday, 6th May 2022, 11:06 am

The warning came after the recent Ockenden Report highlighted families felt they were not being listened to at the crisis-hit Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust.

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A meeting of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust board of directors heard it was important "go and see what it feels like and talk to people".

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Blackpool Victoria Hospital

Hospital chief executive Trish Armstrong Child said: "The fundamental essence of Ockenden was that it came down to culture.

"Both within the staff and staff feeling they were not listened to, but also families when they felt things were going wrong and they weren't listened to."

She said the "need to create the right environment for families" had to be one of the main focuses going forward.

Head of midwifery at the hospital Nicola Parry said measures were already taken to ensure senior medics took a step back "to see what if feels like and talk to people."

She said: "To speak to the midwives, the obstetricians and speak to the mums is huge from a board perspective."

There is already a family liaision midwife in the unit who works closely with those families with more serious issues.

Concerns were also raised about the ability to recruit new midwives in the wake of the report which had highlighted the need for fully staffed maternity wards.

The meeting heard Blackpool had been able to recruit successfully thanks to its good reputation, and while there was some "unease", training colleges in the region had increased their capacity to meet demand.

Ms Parry said: "We do have really good links with UCLan and Cumbria and both have an expansion programme. They are now 18 to 20 months into that programme and there is a lag time, but they have seen this coming."

A report to the board said 98 per cent of Blackpool's maternity patients rated their care as 'very good' which was above the 96 per cent target.

The independent Ockenden review of maternity services at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust found 201 babies and nine mothers could have survived if the NHS trust had provided better care.

Senior midwife Donna Ockenden considered the care of 1,486 families between 2000 and 2019, and made a number of recommendations for the NHS.

Blackpool Council's adult social care and health scrutiny committee has also asked for a report to be brought to its October meeting into NHS maternity services in Blackpool in the wake of the report.