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EAST KENT HOSPITALS BABY DEATH INQUIRY

East Kent Hospital Baby Deaths: Dr Bill Kirkup’s review published today.


Our hearts go out to all of the families and people affected by the East Kent Hospitals NHS Trust Maternity failings.


Dr Bill Kirkup conducted an independent study of the Trust beginning 13 years ago in 2009.

The report has investigated the trust's maternity services over an 11-year period from 2009 to 2020.


The BBC investigate the history of the issue and why it has taken over a decade to be fully uncovered.

The inquiry published today, 19th October 2022, reveals dozens of families suffered and some lost their babies because of NHS Maternity failings.


The harrowing report has found:

  • Gross failures in team working, with a serious of problems between midwifes, obstetricians, paediatricians and neo-natal services

  • “Dysfunctional team working” and poor behaviour clouded the response to safety incidents

  • “Uncompassionate care”

  • Repeated failures to listen to families

  • Problems among the midwifery staff and obstetric staff were known but not addressed

  • Regulatory system failed to identify shortcomings early enough and clearly enough


The probe, led by Dr Bill Kirkup, was commissioned by the government after it was revealed that more than 130 infants suffered brain injuries during birth at the trust over several years.


Dr Kirkup said his panel had heard “harrowing” accounts from families receiving “suboptimal” care, with mothers ignored by staff and shut out from their own care.

He told a press conference that there was a "substantial amount of anger" among families of those affected by failings in maternity care at the Trust.

"What has happened in East Kent is deplorable and harrowing," said Dr Kirkup.

"In 45 of the 65 stillborn and newborn babies who died, there could have been a different outcome."

"Unkind and callous" behaviour was shown towards mothers and families, and this has "deeply affected" them, he said.

There was a culture of treating patients "rudely, arrogantly and with hostility". One mother, who lost her baby, was told that it was "God's will", the review found.

Maternity staff are accused of 'blaming mothers for the deaths of their babies'


Dr Kirkup also said there were "extreme failures of teamworking". "A team that works to different goals, in my view, is not a team," he said.

Of 202 cases reviewed by the experts, the outcome could have been different in 97 cases, the inquiry found.

In 69 of these 97 cases, it is predicted the outcome should reasonably have been different and could have been different in a further 28 cases.

Of the 65 baby deaths examined, 45 could have had a different outcome if nationally recognised standards of care had been provided (69.2 per cent).

When looking at 33 of these 45 cases, the outcome would reasonably expected to have been different, while in a further 12 cases it might have been different.