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East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust: Independent Review

Volume 736: debated on Thursday 20 July 2023

I wish to inform the House of the Government’s full response to the report of the independent review into the maternity and neonatal services at East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, which will be published today on

NHS England commissioned Dr Bill Kirkup CBE in February 2022 to undertake this review following concerns about the quality and outcomes of care. This inquiry was published in October 2022 with five recommendations for the healthcare system.

I want once again to express my thanks for the role the families have played in this review. I remain deeply sorry for the harm and pain that have been a result of the failings of the trust to provide safe care and treatment.

The Government informed the House of their interim response on 7 March 2023, and the fuller response published today sets out in detail how each recommendation is being implemented.

This response has been informed by extensive engagement with stakeholders from across the healthcare system and voluntary sector as well as by the insight and views from those families I met with in June, for which I am grateful.

While the issues set out by Dr Kirkup were a result of an investigation into one trust, many will resonate across the wider system. That is why our response sets out the existing work that is already underway to drive forward system-wide improvements, such as the implementation of the three-year delivery plan that was published in March 2023 by NHS England. This plan is clear on how maternity and neonatal care will be made safer, more personalised, and more equitable for women, babies and families. It will be an important supporting role in the implementation of the East Kent recommendations, and we recognise there is more that we can do.

Today, I want to draw the attention of the House to the key new action we are taking that will create the conditions needed in order for the improvements to be successful and sustainable.

I will chair the new national oversight group to bring together the key people from the NHS and other organisations to look across maternity and neonatal improvement programmes and the implementation of recommendations from this and other maternity reviews. At a local level in East Kent, I will convene a local forum bringing together the NHS, the Care Quality Commission and Members of Parliament whose constituents have been affected to share information and updates. I am also pleased to announce that Dr Kirkup has been appointed to support Government action in relation to recommendations 2 and 3.

It is with a firm determination that we must learn the lessons from this inquiry, as well as those before it, to implement meaningful change to prevent further inquiries into failings in maternity and neonatal services across England being needed.