Health minister meets bereaved families seven months after East Kent baby deaths report

Credit: UK Parliament / PA Images
Maria Caulfield MP will discuss what action has been taken following an inquiry into maternity failings. Credit: UK Parliament / PA Images

A government minister is due to meet families who lost babies at East Kent hospitals, seven months after a damning report into systemic failings in maternity care.

Health Minister Maria Caulfield has called the meeting later today (8 June) at a venue in Canterbury, ITV News understands.

The purpose of the event is to 'discuss the steps being taken following the publication of the East Kent Report', according to an email invitation from the Department of Health and Social Care.

Dr Bill Kirkup’s independent investigation, published last October, concluded that at least 45 babies could have lived if their care had met national standards.

Affected families and some charities criticised the government’s initial response to the report as "weak", "disappointing" and "lacking detail".

A recent inspection of the maternity unit at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford found it was ‘inadequate’. Credit: PA Images

The Kirkup Report examined hundreds of cases over more than a decade at the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (QEQM) Hospital in Margate and the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford.

The health watchdog recently downgraded maternity services at the East Kent Hospitals Trust to "inadequate".

The Care Quality Commission found that vital resuscitation equipment wasn't always easily accessible, day care facilities were "poor" and "chaotic", while some fire exit doors weren’t working properly.

It is understood inspectors considered shutting down the unit at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, following the inspection in January.

Last month, East Kent Hospitals chief executive Tracey Fletcher said: "We recognise that, despite the changes that have been made to the service so far, there is a lot more to do to ensure we are consistently providing high standards of care for every family, every time".