Northwick Park takes up challenge to improve maternity service

Northwick Park Hospital's maternity unit has been rated inadequate

Northwick Park's maternity has been upgraded to 'requires improvement' - Credit: Archant

Northwick Park Hospital’s management has restated its commitment to improving its maternity service in light of the Ockenden report.

The final report of the Ockenden Maternity Review last week detailed the “catastrophic failures” which led to the deaths of more than 200 babies at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust over a 20-year period.

The national outcry led to Councillor Ketan Sheth, chairman of North West London Joint Health Scrutiny Committee, meeting with Pippa Nightingale, chief executive of Northwick Park. 

The maternity department at Northwick Park was rated “inadequate” in June 2021. It was revealed there were eight baby deaths in five weeks during the previous summer. 

Cllr Sheth said: “The Ockenden Report is a heart-wrenching read. 

“In north west London I’ve been speaking to Pippa Nightingale about Northwick Park Hospital maternity service. 

“I am pleased to hear they’re delivering improvements and plan to secure a ‘good’ rating by 2023, and then [go on to] achieve ‘outstanding’.” 

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A further unannounced visit by the Care Quality Commission in October found it had made improvements. The rating was changed from "inadequate" to "requires improvement". 

A statement from the NHS trust in charge of Northwick Park said: “We have made significant improvements to our maternity service during the past year including putting in place a new leadership team, making changes to our clinical pathways, and extensively refurbishing the unit. 

“We have particularly worked to address the issues that have affected the service in the past, by providing the team with dedicated Freedom to Speak Up Champions, making translation services easier to access and auditing their use, and setting up an entire programme of work to improve culture and engagement.

“We were pleased that the CQC recognised these improvements in their report this December - We are now focusing on sustaining the work we’ve already done, and on improving the service further for our local communities.”

The long-awaited Ockenden report showed “catastrophic failures” led to the deaths of more than 200 babies at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust over a 20-year period.

In completing the research, senior midwife Donna Ockenden found nine mothers had died due to failings while other babies had life changing injuries.

In addition, it was found that babies' deaths were often not investigated and parents were not listened to. The Shrewsbury trust has apologised for the failures.