Comms director suspended after blocking bereaved parents on Twitter

Director of communications at under-fire hospital trust is suspended after blocking Twitter accounts of parents of babies who died in its care

  • Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (NUH) have suspended Tiffany Jones 
  • She apologised ‘wholeheartedly’ for her ‘decision’ to block bereaved parents
  • Parents said Ms Jones ‘blocking them out’ was ‘insensitive’ and ‘triggering’
  • A review into the deaths of dozens of babies at NUH is due to start next month 

The director of communications at Nottingham University Hospitals Trust has been suspended after blocking the Twitter accounts of parents whose babies died in its care.

Tiffany Jones, who has worked in NHS communications for 20 years, sparked outrage this week for preventing several of the parents involved in an ongoing maternity review from accessing her social media account.

She deleted her Twitter account after apologising ‘wholeheartedly’ in a statement that read: ‘I apologise wholeheartedly for the upset my decision to block some individuals from my personal Twitter account may have unintentionally caused.’

But parents have expressed their anger, arguing that the move contradicts the open and ‘engaging’ atmosphere that the hospital insists it is committed to.

It comes as a review into the deaths of dozens of babies at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (NUH) is due to start next month.

The director of communications at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust Tiffany Jones (pictured) sparked outrage this week for blocking the Twitter accounts of bereaved parents

Its maternity services have been rated inadequate by the Care Quality Commission, which has also criticised the trust’s culture and leadership.

Senior midwife Donna Ockenden – who carried out a review into the maternity scandal in Shropshire – will examine its maternity services in a probe that could last 18 months.

It’s not clear why Ms Jones, who has been at the trust since November 2019, blocked the parents.

Jack and Sarah Hawkins, whose baby Harriet died at Nottingham City Hospital in 2016, said they were surprised to find out they had been prevented from viewing her tweets.

Parents criticised Ms Jones for blocking them, arguing that it contradicted the open and ‘engaging’ atmosphere that the hospital insists it is committed to

Mrs Hawkins said: ‘We have never tweeted her or direct messaged her so it’s completely random.

‘Considering her job as director of communications, to block bereaved parents is completely confusing and wrong.

‘She is a mouthpiece for the organisation so this is our concern – that the culture of NUH is to block us out.’

Kimberley Errington, whose baby Teddy died in November 2020, tweeted to say she had noticed she had been blocked by Ms Jones on Tuesday.

She said she was ‘shocked and utterly dismayed’ at ‘yet another unbelievable blunder’.

In a Tweet from her now deleted account, Ms Jones apologised ‘wholeheartedly’ for the upset her ‘decision’ had caused

Other parents said Ms Jones’ actions were ‘insensitive’ and ‘triggering’.

An NUH spokeswoman said: ‘We offer our sincere apologies for the upset caused.

‘We know the devastation caused to families when we have not delivered the best care in our maternity service and we are committed to engaging with and listening to families in order to make the necessary improvements. The Director of Communications has been suspended.’

The trust had previously angered parents after it emerged a memo had been sent to staff following a visit to the city by Ms Ockenden last month.

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust suspended Ms Jones and apologised for the ‘upset caused’. A review into the deaths of dozens of babies at the Trust is due to start next month

After the trip, director of midwifery Sharon Wallis wrote: ‘Yesterday, Donna Ockenden met with families as part of the new independent review process.

‘Some of you will no doubt have seen some of the media fall out.

‘Yet again they painted a damning picture of our maternity services, leaving out of their reports the great work that has been done, the improvements that have been introduced and the passion and commitment of all of the staff.’

On that occasion, Nottingham City councillor Michelle Welsh, who has long called for improvements at NUH, said: ‘The comments show a total disrespect to the families that have bravely come forward and a total disregard for the review under Donna Ockenden.

‘Once again NUH have highlighted their complete inability to orchestrate the changes so desperately needed in the maternity services and instead favour complete denial at the expense of women and babies in Nottinghamshire.’

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