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March 2020

A message from Trust Chair, Stephen Smith, and Chief Executive, Susan Acott…

In recent weeks you may have seen some of the media coverage concerning the sad and tragic death of baby Harry Richford and the quality and safety of our local maternity service.

The death of any baby in a hospital maternity unit touches all of us.  The loss of a life before it has barely begun is always deeply saddening.  When it involves serious failings in the provision of care – as it did in the case of Harry Richford – it’s not just heart-breaking, it’s a tragedy.  We apologise from the bottom of our hearts to Harry’s parents, to the rest of his family and to other families for whom we have failed to provide optimum care.

It’s clear that for some time now the NHS has not provided all the people of East Kent with the high level of maternity care they need and deserve, and for this we are profoundly sorry.

The hospital Trust board and our maternity clinicians are now working closely with some of England’s leading maternity experts and with our health regulators to ensure that we have done - and we are continuing to do – everything we can to make rapid improvements to maternity care and to learn the lessons from past failures.

In February 2020 the government health minister, Nadine Dorries MP, announced that Dr Bill Kirkup would lead an independent review of maternity services in East Kent. We welcome this independent review and promise that we will do everything we can to support Dr Kirkup and his team.

We are determined that we will be open and transparent about the improvements we need to make to our maternity service.  We have already made a number of improvements, but we are clear that more needs to be done. 

In this section of our Trust website you will find regular updates about our maternity service, progress against our improvement programme and news about the independent investigation.

We are determined to provide an excellent standard of care to every mother and child who uses our maternity service, and we will not rest until we, the public and our regulators are confident we are doing so.

We understand that recent media reports may be concerning for women and families who are currently expecting a baby or who have been under our maternity care in the past.  We would encourage any woman who is expecting a baby, and who has concerns 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, please call 01233 651900.

Professor Stephen Smith, Chairman and Susan Acott, Chief Executive