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Published 23 January 2020

Updated 9 February 2020

Maternity services at East Kent Hospitals

We understand that recent media reports on our maternity service may worry east Kent families who are either currently expecting a baby or who have been under our maternity care in the past.

We encourage women who are currently expecting a baby to contact their named midwife for reassurance about their current care.

If you have been under the care of East Kent Hospitals’ maternity service in the past and have concerns about your care, you can contact us on 01233 651900. This phone line is open 9am to 4pm this week. Your call will initially be answered by the patient advice service.  

We recognise that we have not always provided the right standard of care for every woman and baby in our hospitals and we wholeheartedly apologise to families for whom we could have done things differently.

We have made significant changes to our maternity service in recent years to improve the care of women and their families. We are treating the recently raised concerns about the safety of the service with the utmost seriousness and urgency. Leading maternity experts have already started work with us to help us identify further changes we need to make.

We have set up a Board sub-committee, chaired by an external senior clinician, to review the actions we have taken since we commissioned an independent review into our service in 2015 and ensure we are complying with national safety standards.

We are also commissioning an external review of the data available on our maternity services today, and how it compares with services across the country.

Since 2016 we have already made a number of changes to our maternity service. We have:

  • Added more consultants and senior clinician oversight of births at our hospitals
  • Invested in more maternity and neonatal equipment
  • Put a comprehensive training programme in place for all maternity staff on identifying and safely supporting difficult births
  • Revised our policy for recruiting and supervising temporary and junior doctors
  • Implemented a more comprehensive way of monitoring babies’ health during labour.

We recognise, however, that the scale of change needed in our maternity service has not taken place quickly enough and we need to fully embed further learning and changes to our culture. 

We are now investing in ‘centralised CTG monitoring’, which will allow babies’ health during labour to be displayed on monitors in the labour wards’ midwifery stations and viewed by consultants elsewhere in the hospital or on call. This means staff can immediately be alerted to a potential problem and on call doctors will be able to provide expert opinion straight away, wherever they are. 

We will also recruit more doctors to further improve 24/7 care on our labour wards.

We will be receiving support from the NHS Maternity Support Programme, which includes support from a Director of Midwifery from a Trust rated ‘Outstanding’ by the CQC; a Consultant Obstetrician and a Consultant Paediatrician, to work with us to make rapid and sustainable improvements to our service.

Around 7000 women give birth under our care each year, and one death that could be prevented is too many. We want to give families and the population we serve the answers they need and deserve as quickly as possible, and we will regularly report on our progress. We will not rest until we are delivering an outstanding maternity service that has the full confidence of all families in east Kent.