Publication of independent inquiry report into East Kent Maternity Services postponed – The Isle Of Thanet News

Maternity services

A report due for release on September 21 from an independent inquiry launched in February 2020 into a worrying number of preventable baby deaths at East Kent Hospitals Trust has been postponed.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have commissioned Dr Bill Kirkup to carry out an independent review of the circumstances of the maternity-related deaths at QEQM and William Harvey hospitals.

The decision was accompanied by a Health and Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) report which revealed recurring patient safety risks at Maternity Trust sites at QEQM and William Harvey Hospital. .

Maternity issues came to light after baby Harry Richford died at QEQM Hospital in Margate in 2017 after a series of mistakes.

The coroner ruled that Harry’s death was preventable. The January 2020 inquest had heard of the ‘panic’ after Harry was born by emergency Caesarean section during which his heartbeat kept dropping. Harry died seven days after giving birth from a condition caused by a lack of oxygen. An independent report said he might have survived had it not been for a delay in resuscitation at birth which caused irreversible brain damage.

Photo of baby Harry Richford with our thanks to

There was also criticism of the hospital trust saying Harry’s death was expected, leaving his parents, Tom and Sarah Richford, of Birchington, fighting for an inquest.

Since Harry’s inquest, a number of families, estimated at 200, have come forward about the preventable deaths of their babies.

The independent review was part of a series of actions to make urgent improvements to the service and examine what was wrong and why.

Dr. Bill Kirkup was appointed to lead the independent investigation. He has previously carried out a number of independent inquiries, including into Morecambe Bay Maternity Services.

The survey looked at the management, delivery and outcomes of care provided by East Kent University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Maternity and Newborn Services over the period since 2009.

Report a late post

Publication of the report has been delayed until October because next Wednesday, when it was due to be released with a statement made in Parliament, was set aside for MPs to swear allegiance to King Charles III.

An email to families involved in the inquiry read: ‘As a result, there will be no further Parliamentary business that day. This means that we can no longer have the report published in Parliament and that Parliament will not focus on the report and underline what it says. Nor could there be a response from the government in Parliament that day.

“As a result, I am sorry to inform you that we are unable to proceed with the disclosure of the report and its release on the morning of September 21.

“Everyone, including NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care, felt it would be fair to follow through on the plans we had made and notified to families. The reason for the date change is simply that Parliament will no longer sit on September 21.

The email says the revised date will be in October, after Parliament returns and normal parliamentary business resumes.

He adds: “We do not underestimate the impact that delaying the report at such a late stage (a week before the scheduled publication) will have on all the families involved in the investigation. We are truly sorry if this news is causing further emotional distress at an already difficult time for you and your family.

Baby Harry’s grandfather, Derek Richford, said the families wanted the report released as soon as possible and were calling on local MPs to ensure it didn’t go ahead into November.

North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale, who supported the family after baby Harry died, has been contacted for comment.

County Councilor Karen Constantine said, “I am appalled that the report is delayed. I note that a new release date has not yet been set, it should have happened at a minimum.

“Not only will those involved in the investigation remain in a state of anxiety as they anticipate publication, but staff will also anticipate the report and may be concerned about it.

“It is totally unsatisfying that so many people have to wait. Especially with only a vague indication that it will be released in October.

East Kent Hospitals Report

A report to East Kent Hospitals board members says steps have been taken to improve maternity services and include the recruitment of 38 more midwives this month.

The September 1 report added: “In addition, we have revised our training for midwives and medical staff who care for our mothers and babies, to incorporate a mandatory, fully inclusive 5-day program .

However, the council’s report also shows that between April and June 2022, 14 serious incidents were declared. 9 clinical maternity care SIs occurred at WHH where 992 babies were born, 7 at QEQM where 604 babies were born and 1 in the community. Five incidents were referred to the Health Care Safety Investigation Branch which is conducting investigations.

Jacob L. Thornton