Donna Ockenden appointed as honorary president of Baby Lifeline

Donna Ockenden appointed as honorary president of Baby Lifeline


  • Senior midwife and community activist, Donna Ockenden FRSA, has been appointed as honorary president of Baby Lifeline, one of the UK’s leading maternity charities 
  • For nearly 40 years Baby Lifeline has provided training, equipment and support to professionals who care for pregnant women and their new and unborn babies.


Donna Ockenden’s work has been a catalyst for change to improve the quality of care for a broad section of people who use healthcare services across the UK. In 2016, she was commissioned by the UK Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to chair the largest ever review in the history of the NHS into maternity services.  This ongoing independent review is focused on maternity services at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust.

The first report of the Ockenden Review was published in December 2020 and the NHS is now set to invest an additional £95million in maternity services. The money will be spent on improving training and development programmes to support culture and leadership, strengthening board assurance and surveillance to identify issues earlier, and increasing workforce numbers, following on from the findings of the Ockenden Review.

Dr Bill Kirkup who was Chairman of the Morecambe Bay maternity investigation in 2013 is also an honorary president and Ms Ockenden will now work alongside him to advance the goals of the charity; to prevent injuries and deaths in and around childbirth through improved training, equipment provision and research.

They succeed Dame Lorna Muirhead who has been a longstanding president of the Baby Lifeline Charity and whose passion for midwives, midwifery, women and their families was acknowledged in 2000 when she was awarded Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (DBE) for service to midwifery and in 2016 when she was appointed Dame Commander of the Royal Victorian Order.

Dr Edward Morris, Chair of Baby Lifelines Multi-Professional Advisory Panel, said:

“I warmly welcome Donna Ockenden into the role as Co-President of the charity Baby Lifeline. As an organisation which supports frontline NHS staff to prevent injuries and deaths in and around childbirth, having such a respected health care professional like Donna Ockenden join the team will be invaluable to the work we do.”

“Donna has already contributed immensely to the quality of health care provided to women in the UK over her career, most recently publishing the interim findings of her report into maternity safety in December. I greatly look forward to working with Donna in her new role.”

Mr Michael MagroVice-Chair Baby Lifelines Multi Professional Advisory Panel, said:

“I would like to thank Dame Lorna Muirhead for her long standing contribution to Baby Lifeline and am excited to welcome Donna Ockenden to the Baby Lifeline family as Co President.”

“Donna is an internationally known, highly respected leader and has a real passion for improving maternity safety and proven track record of innovation within healthcare. As a charity that supports pregnant women and trains healthcare staff to provide safe care to women and their babies, I cannot think of a better person to lead Baby Lifeline in the vitally important work they do. One of Donna’s main strengths is her enthusiasm and ability to reach out to service users and include them in making childbirth safer, something that she is leading the way on whilst undertaking the Ockenden Review of Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust. I look forward to working with Donna, who I know will challenge us all to improve even further.”

Donna Ockenden, Independent Chair of the Ockenden Review, said:

“I have greatly admired the work of Baby Lifeline Charity, I am honored to be appointed in this role and to work with such a unique charity as we share the same commitment and vision for improving patient safety.”

“Baby Lifeline has worked tirelessly to make maternity services safer in the UK: through its extensive research, its training of healthcare professionals and its funding of life saving equipment in maternity units. It will be my privilege to work with them and support the amazing work they undertake in this country and abroad.”


For more information about Baby Lifeline Charity please call – Judy Ledger on 01676 534 671 or 07932 102 403

For more information on Donna Ockenden or the Ockenden Review please call – Kristianah Fasunloye on 07950 205 283


Background information on Baby Lifeline

Founded 39 years ago by nurse Judy Ledger, following the personal tragedy of losing three premature babies, the charity has purchased millions of pounds’ worth of equipment for maternity and neonatal units, produced nationally recognised reports and research projects, and provided continuing professional development training for over 25,000 maternity healthcare professionals, (with 10,000 of these receiving training in the last couple of years). Predominantly training UK professionals, the charity has ventured to other parts of the world including Kuwait, when shortly after the last Gulf war, Baby Lifeline worked with army humanitarian units and the British Embassy to train Iraqi and Kuwaiti health professionals.

Baby Lifeline is a truly unique organisation that works to support our wonderful NHS professionals in preventing avoidable tragedies in pregnancy and childbirth. The way that it operates is highly collaborative and unique; with a panel of world-renowned multi-professional experts informing its decisions, and its training delivered by frontline NHS professionals. Baby Lifeline works closely with a wide range of national and international organisations, recognising that it can only truly achieve the goals if everyone is pulling in the same direction.

There have been some tremendous advancements in maternity care in recent times, but it is widely recognised that more needs to be done – particularly if the government’s ambition to halve stillbirth, neonatal and maternal deaths by 2025 is to be achieved.

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