Maternity Services Negligence in Kent Hospitals

maternity services negligence
BSC, LLB (Hons) & LPC Sophia Azam
Legally reviewed by: BSC, LLB (Hons) & LPC Sophia Azam In: Medical Negligence

A recent report into maternity services negligence at NHS trusts has revealed that over 45 baby’s death could have been prevented at two Kent hospitals.

Statements from Dr. Bill Kirkup on Kent’s Maternity Services Negligence

Dr. Bill Kirkup, chair of the independent inquiry into maternity at East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust states that his panel had heard “harrowing” accounts from families receiving “suboptimal” care.

Dr. Bill Kirkup states that “mothers have been ignored by staff and shut out from their own care.”

He continues, “an overriding theme, raised with us time and time again, is the failure of the trust’s staff to take notice of women when they raise concerns when they questioned their care, and when they challenged the decisions that were made about their care.”

A Series of Maternity Services Negligence Cases

These reports come just weeks after a series of similar cases have been brought to light for NHS hospitals across the UK. The investigation into the care provided to women and babies examined over 200 cases of poor care. The medical negligence reports as far back as 2009.

Concerns over Kent hospitals were raised in 2020 following the concerns over the quality of care at the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital (QEQM) in Margate in addition to the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford.

Findings of the Maternity Services Negligence Report

The report found that if the families who lost children had received nationally recognised standards of care, 45 out of 65 baby deaths would have had a different outcome. This would additionally have a different outcome in 97 of the 202 cases assessed.

33 of the 45 baby death cases would have had an expected different outcome while 23 might have been different.

Of the 17 cases of brain damage, 12 (72%) could have had a different outcome if better care had been provided. Of the brain damage cases, 9 should have been expected to have a different outcome.

To summarise, in nearly half of all maternity service negligence cases, a better quality of care would have led to a different outcome for families.

‘Cliquey Behaviour’ Between Midwives Resulting in Maternity Service Negligence

In the report, the maternity services were described as ‘cliquey,’ between midwives.

The staff has been reported to be “disrespectful to women and disparaging about the capabilities of colleagues.”

A woman whose baby had died was told: “It’s God’s will; God only takes the babies that he wants to take.”

In another instance, a woman could feel herself being cut open as the midwives didn’t administer enough pain relief. While the new mother worried about her baby’s health deteriorating, she heard a midwife say to another: “First-time parents.”

The report states that midwives that were not part of a favoured group at William Harvey were sometimes assigned to the highest-risk mothers. These midwives were challenged to achieve delivery without any intervention.

Culture of Deflection and Denial

The report was chaired by Dr. Kirkup, who had also led the investigation in 2015. This investigation looked into the deaths of mothers and babies at the Morecambe Bat NHS trust.

In a press conference, he stated that there is a culture of “deflection and denial” within the NHS trusts. This is when they are questioned about potential cases of maternity service negligence.

Dr. Kirkup states “This is a cruel practice that ends up with families being denied the truth.”

“That’s a terrible way to treat somebody in the name of protecting your reputation.”

Families Say Hospital is Still Not Accountable

In 2012 Deborah Morris’s son Archie was delivered as a stillborn. She claims there was “gross negligence and warning signs and signals.” Due to the hospital not picking up on these signs, Deborah Morris lost her son.

She states, “I would like somebody to be held accountable for my baby dying because it’s utterly devastating to have to bury your son and I just feel like the hospital has never listened.”

Deborah Morris has been left feeling angry at the hospitals. She stated that they do not seem to be held accountable for the maternity service negligence.

“As a teacher, we have Ofsted who come in and inspect and if we are not doing our jobs properly, we’re held accountable for it, and I am really angry with the CQC (Care Quality Commission) for not taking action sooner. They just allowed this to carry on.”

Tracey Fletcher, Chief Executive Admits Hospital Failures

Tracey Fletcher, chief executive of the trust, said: “I want to say sorry and apologise unreservedly for the harm and suffering that has been experienced by the women and babies who were within our care, together with their families, as described in today’s report.”

“These families came to us expecting that we would care for them safely, and we failed them.”

“We must now learn from and act on this report; for those who have taken part in the investigation, for those who we will care for in the future, and for our local communities. I know that everyone at the trust is committed to doing that.”

Compensation for Grieving Families

A recent inquest ruled the death of Harry Richford as “wholly unavoidable”. Harry died only a week after he was born in November 2017.

The family has been campaigning for answers but stated their concerns were repeatedly brushed aside by hospital managers.

As a result, the trust was fined £733,000.

Expert No Win, No Fee Advice and Support with Your Maternity Negligence Claim

We understand how experiencing negligence during your pregnancy can impact your life, now and in the future. You may have to take time off work to recover, or even lose trust in medical professionals.

Our medical negligence solicitors are experts in their field and are passionate about getting clients like you compensated so they can focus on healing.

As a result of getting you compensation, we can help you to build your life back up again.

We will fully investigate the incident, gather evidence, and seek professional opinions. As a result, you can receive the very best result for yourself and your family. We promise to always keep you in the loop and help you understand how your case is progressing.

Before we get started with your claim, we will provide you with a free assessment of your case. Therefore, you know exactly what making a claim will entail for you. Your well-being and recovery are our number one priority, and we want to help in the best way possible.

At AWH, we have expert medical negligence solicitors ready to deal with your case. Contact us online today, call us on 01254 274000.

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