February 23, 2023

Trust Says Failure Still Exists in East Kent NHS After Baby Death Reviews

An independent review carried out last year discovered that the deaths of no fewer than 45 babies could have been prevented if they had received appropriate care at East Kent NHS.

In a damning report, a meeting heard that the maternity staff at the NHS Trust where scores of babies died were not all carrying out monthly safety checks.

Families described it as a horrific experience where basic safety protocols were not followed. On Thursday, Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Sarah Shingler told a board meeting that not all staff were aware that safety was part of their role.

At the end of the meeting, Phil Linehan, grandfather of baby Ashton, whose case formed part of the Kirkup inquiry after he died 10 years ago, said It was their job and they must do that. He also added that it should be everybody’s duty everyday and that it is disheartening to learn that 10 years later, basic safety procedures are still not followed.

Ms Shingler told the board all staff were fully-trained, but said they were experiencing challenges in letting staff know and understand that safety checks are part of their professional role. She said: "What we can't do is constantly, 24 hours a day, be alongside each and every member of staff making sure that they are applying those principles and doing their safety checks and following guidelines robustly."

Ms Shingler also added that some staff did not see it as their duty to examine emergency equipment before using it, and to follow guidelines when conducting patient reviews after every hour. She said the trust could not suspend and remove people from clinical duty because it needed to run a service.

Members of the board heard the head of midwifery and matrons was now conducting daily checks but some staff felt they were being asked to do above what they should do. She said: "We need to start holding people to account to do their jobs."

Health Correspondent for BBC South East Mark Norman said that some of the people who attended the meeting were visibly angry.

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