Last reviewed 13 January 2021

Hundreds of NHS maternity and neonatal leaders in England will benefit from a new £500,000 maternity leadership programme which will aim to apply lessons learned both from the pandemic and maternity safety inquiries, including the Ockenden Review.

The issue of leadership was identified as a key factor in Donna Ockenden’s independent review (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/943011/Independent_review_of_maternity_services_at_Shrewsbury_and_Telford_Hospital_NHS_Trust.pdf) into cases of neglect and preventable baby deaths at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust.

The review highlighted the issue of disconnect between “ward and board” in maternity services and the importance of multi-disciplinary training, escalating concerns to senior leaders, and applying lessons learned from serious incidents.

The new programme will provide training and ongoing support for 700 people including NHS trust board safety champions, heads of midwifery, clinical directors of neonatal and clinical directors of midwifery, leaders of local maternity systems and regional chief midwives.

They will be drawn from 126 Trusts and 44 local maternity systems.

Patient Safety Minister Nadine Dorries said: “The shocking and tragic findings of the Ockenden Review highlighted the importance of strengthening maternity leadership and oversight as well as fostering more collaborative approaches within maternity and neonatal services”.

Alongside the programme, a new core curriculum for professionals working in maternity and neonatal services is being developed by the Maternity Transformation Programme in partnership with professional organisations, clinicians and service users to address variations in skills and safety training across England.

A single core curriculum will, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said, help the workforce to bring a consistent set of updated safety skills as they move between services and trusts.