Health: Years of maternity mistakes are revealed in the NHS report today

A view of the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (QEQM) Hospital in Margate, Kent

The Government is set to respond to the independent review of maternity services at the NHS Trust after a number of babies died (Image: PA)

Families will finally hear the findings of a report on preventable baby deaths at one of England’s largest NHS trusts.

East Kent Hospitals University’s NHS Foundation Trust’s years of maternity failures are expected to be revealed today.

Commissioned by NHS England in 2020 after growing concerns about the quality of care, the study aims to describe how newborns died over a period of 11 years due to poor care.

The report is believed to show how patients have often been ignored and overlooked, while the Trust has failed to learn valuable lessons.

A panel chaired by Dr. Bill Kirkup is investigating.

Serious failings were revealed when Harry Richford died at the age of seven days after an emergency birth at Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital (QEQM) in Margate.

His family have long campaigned for NHS accountability after arguing their concerns have been repeatedly brushed aside by hospital managers.

Tom and Sarah Richford

Tom and Sarah Richford, the parents of Harry Richford, who died in November 2017, seven days after his emergency birth at Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate, Kent (Image: PA)

The Trust was fined £733,000 last year because Harry’s treatment failed after he suffered brain damage.

An earlier investigation concluded his death was “entirely preventable” and found more than a dozen problem areas, including deficiencies in the way an “inexperienced” doctor performed the delivery, followed by delays in resuscitation.

A midwife described “panic” during attempts to resuscitate the baby, while a nurse said the scene was “chaotic”.

Archie Batten, who died at QEQM in September 2019, was another victim of a “gross failure” by the trust.

A coroner ruled that he died of natural causes “to which neglect contributed”.

This scandal was largely brought to light by the Richford family’s efforts over the past five years.

Their baby Harry died in 2017 in circumstances the coroner described as “entirely preventable.”

It was found that the boy was delivered more than an hour and a half later than an expert recommended and that failure to request counselor support resulted in an inexperienced doctor taking over the delivery.

Last October, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which inspects hospitals, raised renewed concerns about the East Kent Trust, which it has repeatedly flagged as “in need of improvement”.

Unannounced inspections in July 2021 said there were not enough midwifery staff and maternity workers to keep women and babies safe.

Inspectors said staff felt exhausted, stressed and anxious, while some community midwives had taken on extra work in the acute care units, meaning they sometimes worked 20 hours a day.

The government is also expected to respond to the damning report released later today.

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Justin Scacco

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