Sir Roger Gale questions ministers on maternity services in East Kent

13 February 2020

The Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Nadine Dorries, responded to an urgent question from Sir Roger Gale on maternity care failings at the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust.

After an inquest determined that the death of baby Harry Richford at the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust was "wholly preventable", a BBC investigation uncovered more cases of preventable neo-natal deaths and poor maternity care. 

A 2015 report into maternity care at the Trust by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists that found a number of failings has also been unearthed. The Trust also has a higher than average rate perinatal mortality rate.

In light of this, the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Nadine Dorries, asked the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to conduct a report into the Trust.

Nadine Dorries MP: "a number of safety concerns"

Nadine Dorries MP stated that the HSIB investigation found "a number of safety concerns". These included the availability of skilled staff, access to neo-natal resuscitation equipment, the speed with which patients' concerns are escalated up to senior doctors, and failures of leadership and governance.

Ms Dorries said that the CQC report would be published "in due course" and that CQC would be in regular contact with the Trust.

The Minister stated that NHS England and NHS Improvement are working closely with the Trust and have launched an independent inquiry. They have also taken "immediate actions" to provide support and review governance and standards, including providing an independent clinical support team.  

She concluded:

"The Government is fully committed to reducing patient harm and improving the safety of maternity services."

Sir Roger Gale MP: "swift and robust action"

Responding to the Minister's answer, Sir Roger Gale MP commended Ms Dorries' "swift and robust action".

Sir Roger told MPs that he received a "harrowing" phone call from parents who lost their child in similar circumstances to Harry Richford's death. He stated that the parents affected need justice and need to know that the failings that led to the deaths of their children had been addressed.

He asked the Minister if she would release the CQC report "as soon as possible" and consider an independent inquiry (which the Minister confirmed would be undertaken).  

The Member said:

"These parents need to know that the failures in protocol, that the failures in clinical judgement and that the failures in management have been addressed."

Image: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire/PA Images

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