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  1. ITV Report

East Kent baby deaths: Families wait for Government response on maternity services

The Government is due to respond to an investigation into the deaths of babies at East Kent Hospitals.

The reports were commissioned in response to the death of baby Harry Richford at the QEQM hospital in Margate. Harry died just seven days after his emergency delivery in November 2017, an inquest found. The coroner said his death was 'wholly avoidable'.

The QEQM Hospital is part of East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust Credit: ITV Meridian

Harry's father, Tom Richford said the scale of the problem at East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust needs to be understood before it can be resolved.

Speaking this morning, Mr Richford criticised trust chief executive Susan Acott. He said that despite writing "numerous letters", he and his wife Sarah had never spoken to her.

Harry Richford died just seven days after his emergency delivery in November 2017 Credit: ITV Meridian

"It feels like she is in complete denial of the whole scale of the problem. I think we are going to call for a public inquiry to find out the scale of the problem, and once we know the scale of the problem, hopefully people will be able to go in there and resolve the problems that there are."

– Tom Richford
Iris Crowhurst's daughter Jessica was stillborn in September 2011 Credit: ITV Meridian

It comes amid reports that at least seven preventable baby deaths may have occurred at the trust since 2016. Iris Crowhurst's baby girl Jessica was stillborn in September 2011 at the QEQM.

Her mother Iris - believes the Trust failed to learn lessons from her daughters death.

At Harry's inquest last month, Coroner Christopher Sutton-Mattocks listed a series of errors he found with the care given at the hospital. He gave a narrative conclusion that Harry's death was contributed to by neglect and had been "wholly avoidable".

Bosses at the NHS trust said it was with "great sadness" that they accepted failing Harry and his family.

The QEQM Hospital has apologised to every family it says it let down Credit: ITV Meridian

“We know that we have not always provided the standard of care for every woman and baby that they expected and deserved, and wholeheartedly apologise to every one of those families we have let down.

“We are taking all necessary steps to provide safe care and we are treating the recently raised concerns about the safety of our service with the utmost seriousness and urgency.

“This includes making use of support from leading maternity experts, who have already identified further improvements that we will make.

“We recognise that the change needed in our maternity service has not taken place quickly enough, and we are doing everything we can to improve our culture so that we become an organisation which is constantly learning and improving.

“As part of this we continue to work with our regulators in an open and transparent way.

“Our externally-chaired Board sub-committee will review the actions we have taken since we commissioned an independent review into our service in 2015, ensuring we are complying with national safety standards and are implementing the Coroner’s recommendations fully and swiftly.

“Around 7,000 women give birth under our care each year, and one death that could be prevented is one too many. We will not rest until we are delivering an outstanding maternity service that has the full confidence of all families in east Kent.”

– A spokesman for East Kent Hospitals

It's understood the Trust won't be put into special measures but will receive specialist support to help turn things around and continue to be closely monitored.