Head of East Kent maternity investigation appeals for affected families to get in touch

Maternity services

The head of an independent investigation into East Kent Maternity Services has invited families to share their experiences of the maternity and neonatal services at East Kent Hospitals.

Dr Bill Kirkup is leading the investigation which was launched in February by NHS England and NHS Improvement.

It has been set up to examine the standard of care provided by the maternity and neonatal service at the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust (EKHUFT) since 2009.

The investigation is looking at individual cases where there has been a preventable or avoidable death; a concern that the death may have been preventable or avoidable; a damaging outcome for the baby or mother; or where there is reason to believe the circumstances shed light on how maternity services were provided or managed or how the Trust responded when things went wrong.

The team will also look at how the Trust responded to signals that there were problems and sought to learn lessons; how the Trust engaged with regulators including the CQC, and actions and responses of regulators and commissioners.

Dr Kirkup said: “As the Chair of the investigation I would like to invite any families who wish to share their experience of the maternity and neonatal services at East Kent Hospitals during this time period to contact the investigation to talk about this.

“I know the death of a child or mother, or their injury during childbirth, is a very distressing event in a family’s life. I also know that sharing such experiences can be difficult and traumatic. We will listen compassionately and sensitively and will take steps to ensure all families that come forward feel appropriately supported.

“I will therefore make arrangements for any families to share with the Investigation their experience in private and to remain anonymous, if you would prefer to do so.”

If you would like to contact the Investigation, email [email protected] or call 01233 227709. The team will make arrangements to call back at a time convenient to you.

Concerns were raised about the safety of maternity services at the Trust at the inquest this January into the death of baby Harry Richford, who died at Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in 2017. A number of families then came forward over the ‘preventable’ deaths of their babies.

The troubled maternity service has been subject to a report by the Health and Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) which found recurrent patient safety risks at the Trust maternity sites at QEQM Margate and William Harvey Hospital and is subject to the review commissioned by NHS England and NHS Improvement into the maternity and neonatal services.    Dr Kirkup expects to report the findings  in 2021.