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14 February 2020 | Comment | Article by Mari Rosser

An All Too Familiar Scandal At East Kent NHS Foundation Trust Maternity Units

As the governments probes a further 25 cases, today East Kent NHS Foundation Trust apologises over maternity care of four more preventable baby deaths. This follows the inquest of Harry Richford, who died following delivery in November 2017, the coroner made a Prevention of Future Deaths Report with 19 concerns following his investigation. These included:

  • a failure to assess and check competency of locum doctors;
  • a failure to report the death of Harry as unexpected to the Coroner;
  • a failure of the internal investigation;
  • failures in staff training; and
  • policies and procedures being outdated.

The East Kent NHS Foundation Trust manages five different hospitals. Last month’s BBC investigation discovered that there were seven preventable cases of baby deaths since 2016. Today four families have spoken out, that if better care was provided, these deaths potentially might not have occurred.

Hugh James has seen a disturbing trend in previous investigations that complaints from staff and patients are simply ignored by senior management. It was found that only when crisis occurs, the trusts acts so slowly it puts patients’ lives at risk. The Trust were aware of problems going back to 2015 and yet steps were not taken to rectify these problems. Nadine Dorries, the Minister for Patient safety has announced that NHS England will be conducting an independent review into the maternity services at the Trust.

Hugh James act for a number clients in claims against Cwm Taf Health Board, where an independent review of 43 pregnancies between January 2016 and September 2018 was undertaken. In that instance 79 recommendations were made to the Health Board.

Have you or a family member been affected by the East Kent scandal?

Hugh James has produced a helpful guide with information on what to do if you or a family member has been affected by this. Please follow the link to download your free information guide.

Mari Rosser, Head of Medical Negligence, comments:

This sadly has too many similarities of other public health inquiries such as Mid Staffs, Morecambe Bay and Cwm Taff, vitally, the failure to react to and escalate serious incidents. This has undoubtedly allowed unsafe practices to continue unchecked over a significant period of time.

Lynda Reynolds, the head of the Inquest team in the London office said:

Assisting families with the inquest process and where necessary urging a Coroner to open an inquest is a vital opportunity to scrutinise care and identify problems. This process is incredibly complex and requires specialist advice which can help provide answers and accountability for families.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.


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