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East Kent Maternity Services: Independent Investigation

Volume 720: debated on Wednesday 19 October 2022

I wish to inform the House that the independent review into maternity and neonatal services at East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust has today published its report, which can be found here:

NHS England commissioned Dr Bill Kirkup CBE to undertake an independent review into maternity and neonatal services at East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust in February 2020, following concerns about the quality and outcomes of care. On behalf of the Government, I would like to thank Dr Kirkup, the families, and all those who contributed to the report.

The report details the poor maternity care that over 200 families received at East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust between 2009 and 2020. The trust failed to provide safe care and treatment which resulted in avoidable harm for mothers and babies, causing tragedy and distress that no family should have to experience. I am profoundly sorry to all the families that have suffered and continue to suffer from these tragedies. I also wish to pay tribute to the families who have come forward to assist the review.

In line with the review team’s families first approach, I am pleased to hear that the families were able to see an advance copy of the report this morning ahead of the publication.

I, and the Government, take the findings and the recommendations from the report extremely seriously and I am committed to preventing families from experiencing the same pain in the future.

My Department along with NHS England has already established the independent working group, chaired by the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. The independent working group will help guide the implementation and next steps of the immediate and essential actions from the Ockenden report and the recommendations from the East Kent report. The group has met twice to date, and the next meeting will focus on reviewing the recommendations for the East Kent report.

In March 2022, NHS England also announced a £127 million funding boost for maternity services across England that will help ensure safer and more personalised care for women and their babies.

I will be reviewing and considering all the recommendations from the report, and I will issue a full response once I have had time to consider the recommendations.