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

Grieving parents whose babies died under the care of East Kent Hospitals NHS Trust have met the panel set up to help them find answers.

The independent investigation was set up after a series of preventable baby deaths going back at least five years. The inquiry began scrutinising cases in April.

The families spoke about their experiences and what they hope the inquiry will consider as they met the full panel of experts to consider the findings so far.

This is a very strong panel, we are delighted. We've got some very serious very influential people who are a family we feel sure will dig very deeply into the background of what's gone on not only with Harry but with other people because they are covering the previous ten years so that's an awful lot of data to get through.

Derek Richford, Grandfather to Harry

Dr Bill Kirkup who is leading the independent investigation announced on Monday the hand picked panel who are assisting him.

  • Heather Brown, Consultant Obstetrician at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust

  • Valerie Clare, Head of Midwifery at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust 

  • Helen Mactier, Neonatal Expert

  • Alison Fuller, Leader in NHS Accountability and Quality

  • Denise McDonagh, Data Specialist

Meetings with the families are taking place this week and into July, via video conferencing, because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Dr Kirkup said they are aware of more cases than previously thought. 

At this stage I think we are just pleased the investigation is going forward considering the current circumstances and it can start to look at why so many things have gone wrong.  It is painful recounting everything we've been through but it's for the purpose of helping others in the future.

Dawn Powell, Mother to Archie

The panel is focusing on the families, but Dr Kirkup took the opportunity on Monday to encourage anyone with concerns about maternity services in East Kent to get in touch.

Next steps will include scrutiny of Trust reports and paperwork, as well as interviews with Trust leaders.

The investigation is expected to conclude next year.