The inquest into the deaths of two young mums who died after giving birth in East Kent Hospitals has been pushed back by two months.
Kim Sampson, of Whitstable, died aged 29 in May 2018 after developing the infection shortly after her baby boy was delivered by caesarean section at the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate.
Six weeks later, 32-year-old nursery nurse Samantha Mulcahy also died from an infection caused by the same virus, at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford. She had also undergone a caesarean.
The hospitals are run by East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust.
Originally it was said that no inquest would be held into their deaths. However, at the end of 2021 it was announced there would be a joint hearing to examine how Kim, who also had a daughter, and Samantha died.
Following several pre-inquest review hearings – one of which was told it was believed that the same surgeon and midwife were involved in Kim and Samantha’s care – a full inquest into their deaths was due to start on Monday (February 27) and last for five days.
But East Kent Hospitals made last minute legal submissions on the Sunday despite having had the opportunity to make their request at the previous pre-inquest review hearings.
The inquest will now not resume until mid April.
Kim Sampson’s family is represented by specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell.
After the inquest was adjourned, the family’s legal team and Kim’s mum, Yvette Sampson, issued statements.
Yvette said: “For years it’s felt a fight just to get to the stage of at least having an inquest into Kim’s death. While the feeling of hurt and loss at Kim’s death has never gone away, those feelings have really come to the fore again over the last few weeks as we thought that the time was coming for us to finally get answers.
“It’s difficult to find the words to describe what’s happened over the last few days. The most important thing should have been to establish how two young mums died and how their children have been left without their mummies. However, instead it feels like the Trust has been more focused on protecting itself.
“The hardest thing to accept is that these legal arguments should have been concluded way in advance of this week but instead the Trust submitted a request on the eve of the hearing and on a non-working day.
“These actions have just added to the pain and grief we feel.
“While we now have to wait for the inquest, I’ll continue to fight to ensure I can at least get the answers I deserve as to why Kim died and also so that I can explain to her children when they’re older what happened to her.”
Anna Vroobel, the specialist medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Kim’s family, said: “After nearly five years, Yvette really hoped that she would finally be able to receive the answers she deserves as to why Kim died.
“Understandably Yvette and the rest of Kim’s family are upset and frustrated by the events of the last few days especially as three previous pre-inquest review hearings were held at which these issues could have been discussed and agreed.
“They also follow on from the findings of the Kirkup review into maternity failings at East Kent Hospitals which, among other things, found that the Trust didn’t acknowledge problems, but instead was concerned about reputation management.
“Transparency is key to upholding public confidence in the health service.
“While this adjournment delays Kim’s family’s wait for answers, they accept it’s now necessary to ensure that the inquest isn’t rushed and that the most thorough and fearless investigation into the circumstances surrounding Kim’s death is conducted before a conclusion is reached.
“Understandably Yvette and the rest of her family continue to be profoundly affected by Kim’s death which happened in such tragic circumstances. We continue to support Yvette at this distressing time to ensure she gets the answers she deserves.”
The hearing was also examining the death of Samantha Mulcahy who died just weeks after Kim.
Samantha’s mother Nicola Foster is represented by Dr Anton Van Dellen of Fraser Chambers who said on her behalf: “Nicola Foster, Samantha’s mother, is very disappointed that the inquest was unable to proceed this week after having waited almost 5 years for the inquest to be heard.
“She hopes that the re-listed inquest in April will provide as many answers as possible as to how Samantha came by her death. She is confident that the Coroner will conduct a full, fair and fearless inquest and is very grateful for the support that she has received from both her family and from Kimberley Sampson’s family.”
An East Kent Hospitals Trust spokesperson said: “We apologise for the further delay and the ongoing distress this has caused the families of Kimberley and Samantha.”