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 The hospital Trust board and our maternity clinicians are 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 January 2020 the inquest into the sad and tragic death of baby Harry Richford found that his death was wholly avoidable.

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.  

It was clear that for some time the NHS had not provided all the people of East Kent with the high level of maternity care they need and deserve. 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.

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 and the progress we are making. 

We have listened to women and families – to those who have received excellent care, and those we have failed by not providing the right standard of care. To these women and families we are profoundly sorry.

We have also listened to the views of our own multi-professional staff on what values and skills they need to be equipped with, in order to deliver a safe high quality service.

We have taken on board what’s been said and we have published our Strategy for Excellence in Maternity Care.

Our strategy is one of continuous improvement, creating the right environment for our staff to be able to implement best practice and to have the confidence to raise concerns when standards are not being met. It’s our commitment to the women and families of east Kent to work tirelessly to provide high quality maternity care, which is safe, effective and centred on the women that need it.

Our strategy incorporates recommendations from independent investigations, findings and feedback into maternity care at East Kent Hospitals to ensure the recommendations and lessons learned from these are fully embedded. This includes the NHS England maternity support programme, NHS Improvement, the Care Quality Commission, Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group, Kent and Medway Local Maternity Systems, the Maternity Voices Partnership and Healthwatch Kent.

We live and work among the people who use our services and we want to be their hospital of choice, providing safe services in a compassionate way.

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.

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.