By Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan
Kent County Council (KCC) faces a backlog of more than 3,500 birth registrations due to the coronavirus crisis.
The service has been put on hold over the last three months as County Hall’s resources have been diverted to tackling the pandemic, including carrying out a growing number of death registrations.
KCC’s head of registration, James Pearson, said the local authority plans to reduce a significant birth registration “backlog” within the next four to six weeks. However, these are likely to be face-to-face appointments.
At a KCC meeting earlier this week, Mr Pearson told councillors: “We need to make sure we have all the necessary precautionary measures, such as screens in place, to allow those appointments to restart, which we are working on as we speak.”
KCC’s Labour group leader Dara Farrell told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “It’s positive to hear the birth registration service is coming back as life has to go on beyond Covid.”
The General Register Office has recently told KCC that the local health authority can resume its birth registration service, with KCC officials putting up screens at venues to ensure these are carried out safely for staff and families.
A large volume of Kent death registrations have been carried out over the phone during the pandemic, but birth registrations will likely have to be carried out in person unless Government emergency legislation is changed.
These will be delivered from 10 locations across the county for births, although these have yet to be decided.
Appointments will be carried out over a six-day period, from Mondays to Saturdays, as KCC seeks to speed up the process and cut down its backlog by the end of July.
At a KCC communities virtual meeting on Monday, Mr Pearson said: “When the Government passed it’s emergency legislation it only related to death registrations and at that point we were clearly instructed to cease the delivery of birth appointments.
“By the nature of that it means we have built a backlog of over 3,500 births, which will now need to be cleared.”
Cllr Farrell added: “A three-month delay can have a knock on effect for families involved and this is something that the Government needs to look at.”
A date has yet to be decided for when the service will resume, but Mr Pearson said he hopes it will be “soon”.