Independent Inquiry Into Maternity Services at East Kent Trust 

Nicky Broyd

February 13, 2020

An independent inquiry by NHS England into maternity services at East Kent Hospitals Trust has been announced by the Health Minister.

In a tweet Nadine Dorries said: "Pleased to announce #NHS will commission a full independent inquiry into maternity services at East Kent trust."

Meanwhile, to ensure East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust is a safe place to give birth she said "Some of the very best midwives and doctors from outstanding trusts have been moved in."

East Kent Concerns

Concerns have been growing over East Kent maternity services. The Trust has a higher than average perinatal mortality rate, and failings were highlighted in a 2015 report from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

An inquest also found the death of baby Harry Richford at the Trust was "wholly preventable". Media investigations have brought more cases to light.

Investigations

Nadine Dorries asked the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) and Care Quality Commission (CQC) to report on the Trust.

In a written statement to Parliament she reported that the HSIB found "a number of safety concerns", including:

  • The availability of skilled staff, especially out of hours

  • Access to neo-natal resuscitation equipment

  • The speed at which patient concerns are escalated to senior doctors

  • Leadership and governance failings

A CQC report following unannounced inspections earlier this yearat William Harvey Hospital, Ashford and the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital, Margate, which provide the majority of the Trust’s maternity services, will be published "in due course" but the CQC will remain in regular contact with the Trust.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have also taken "immediate actions" including providing an independent clinical support team which includes a director of midwifery services from a CQC-rated outstanding Trust, two consultant obstetricians a consultant paediatrician, and a neonatologist

'Wholeheartedly Apologise'

In a statement, East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust said: "We know that we have not always provided the standard of care for every woman and baby that they expected and deserved, and wholeheartedly apologise to every one of those families we have let down.

"We are taking all necessary steps to provide safe care and we are treating the recently raised concerns about the safety of our service with the utmost seriousness and urgency."

It continued, "we are doing everything we can to improve our culture so that we become an organisation which is constantly learning and improving.

"As part of this we continue to work with our regulators in an open and transparent way."

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