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Leigh Day welcomes steps to improve engagement with families from ethnic backgrounds impacted by the Nottingham Maternity Scandal

After the announcement that a review into poor maternity care in Nottingham will now include around 1,700 families’ cases, law firm Leigh Day says it is more important than ever to makes sure all those impacted understand what has happened and are given a voice.

Posted on 24 July 2023

At the annual meeting for Nottingham University Hospitals Trust (NUH) earlier this month it was announced that cases will be dealt with on an opt-out basis, meaning all the families impacted by the scandal will be included unless they say they do not want to be.

Before this announcement, the trust had written to over 1,300 families who had experienced stillbirth, neonatal deaths, brain damage to the baby, or harm to mothers or relatives of mothers who died, but it is believed the letter was only sent out in English.
Prior to all impacted families being contacted, it is understood that fewer than 20 Black and Asian families were involved in the inquiry compared to more than 250 White families.  
Ethnic minorities represent 34.7% of the population in Nottingham. Leigh Day says this is particularly concerning in light of the widely reported disparities in maternity care, such as MMBRACE-UK’s report on perinatal deaths for births, which have revealed that Black, Mixed and Asian women are four times and two times more likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth in comparison to their white counterparts.

Donna Ockenden, who is leading the inquiry, has criticised NUH for failing to engage with ethnic minority families and voiced concerns that the review would not be able to adequately represent the experiences of these communities. She pointed to the deteriorating relationships between healthcare providers and these communities as a factor for the low number of participants involved.

In a letter to the trust's chief executive Anthony May, seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), she said the trust had failed to communicate properly with Black and Asian women and failed to appreciate cultural sensitivities.

Sandra Igwe, CEO of the Motherhood Group - which is partnered with Leigh Day to help create a safe space and better outcomes for Black women in maternity care, was part of the Family Voices Team appointed by Ms Ockenden to help engage with Nottingham’s diverse communities.

She told Leigh Day:

“There are so many Black and ethnic minority women and families that often feel ignored, dismissed and unheard during their maternity care. It is important that the investigation gives ethnic minority families an opportunity to share their specific narratives, support in developing the recommendations, whilst influencing policy through their lived experiences, as we are more likely to experience terrible outcomes relating to dignity, safety choice, autonomy, and equality in maternity care. Representation is crucial”.

The review, which began September last year, follows dozens of baby deaths and injuries at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (NUH).

Leigh Day is currently representing and supporting a number of families involved in the Nottingham Maternity Review. The firm has a team of specialist maternity care lawyers with decades of experience, helping mothers and babies who have suffered poor maternity care, to obtain justice and compensation for their injuries.

Firdous Ibrahim, Clinical Negligence Solicitor at Leigh Day said:

“It can be overwhelming for families to be involved in a public enquiry. For some families, receiving a letter about the inquiry was the first time they were made aware that they were affected by the poor treatment provided by NUH. When you add other factors onto that such as language barriers or feeling isolated, the struggle becomes even harder.

“Every family that has been impacted by these events, should feel supported and safe in speaking up, regardless of their background. Leigh Day can support clients to hold those responsible accountable for the harm they have caused and to ensure these mistakes cannot happen again”.

Firdous Ibrahim
Amputation Birth injury Brain injury Cerebral palsy Spinal injury

Firdous Ibrahim

Firdous Ibrahim is a senior associate solicitor in the medical negligence department.

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