Plans revealed to ‘fundamentally transform’ scandal-hit East Kent maternity units

Credit: ITV Meridian

Hospital bosses in East Kent have set out their plan to “transform” NHS maternity services, in response to a damning report.

Dr Bill Kirkup’s independent investigation concluded that at least 45 babies died needlessly because of failings in care over more than a decade.

The NHS trust, which runs units at Margate’s QEQM Hospital and Ashford’s William Harvey Hospital – has committed to a “fundamental transformation of the way we work”.

In a 21-page official response to the Kirkup Report, presented to the board of directors of the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust (EKHUFT) on Thursday, 9 February, managers set out a plan to overhaul five key areas, described as “pillars of change”.

Dr Bill Kirkup's damning report found 45 babies could have lived if their care had met national standards. Credit: ITV Meridian

The pillars are improving ‘monitoring safe performance’, ‘standards of clinical behaviour’, ‘flawed team working’, and bringing about more effective ‘organisational governance’.

The EKHUFT board of directors have published an open letter to all residents in East Kent, in which the chief executive Tracey Fletcher and chairman Niall Dickson write: "We are determined to make the necessary improvements and make sure that in future we listen to patients, their families and staff when they raise concerns."

The letter continues: "We are embarking on a fundamental transformation of the way we work. We are starting with a commitment to openness and honesty, so that whenever something goes wrong, everyone feels able to admit to and learn from our mistakes."

The Care Quality Commission raised fresh concerns following an unannounced inspection of East Kent maternity services in January. 

The full CQC report is expected in the coming weeks, but the board heard how inspectors had highlighted problems with foetal monitoring, fire safety, infection control procedures and maternal triage at William Harvey Hospital.

It’s also been announced that an ‘oversight group’, which will include family representatives,  is being set up to monitor the overhaul of maternity care at the trust.

The developments follow ITV News Meridian’s report marking 100 days since the Kirkup report, when our cameras were allowed into one of the scandal-hit units for the first time in years. 

In an exclusive interview chief executive Tracey Fletcher admitted that changing the culture of the organisation could take three years.

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