Avoidable baby deaths at East Kent NHS Foundation Trust

  • January 30, 2020
  • Concerns about the standard of care

    Following the recent maternity scandal at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, East Kent NHS Foundation Trust is now at the centre of a BBC investigation in respect of the standard of service provided.

    Concerns have been raised about the Trust’s maternity services, leading to an admission that it had “not always provided the right standard of care”.

    The investigation, which was sparked by the death of baby Harry Richford in late 2017, has exposed a number of other baby deaths which were avoidable, and occurrences of poor maternity care across the five hospitals and community clinics within the Trust.

    Maternity care failings

    In 2014 the Trust was placed into special measures after its services were found to be inadequate by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Despite being placed into special measures, the Trust has failed to improve its maternity care and is still rated as Requiring Improvement.

    Between 2014 and 2017 the total number of stillbirths and babies who died within 28 days of being born has been consistently higher within the Trust than the UK average. In 2017 the Trust’s figures were the highest in the UK.

    A review of the Trust, carried out by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 2015, identified that consultants failed to carry out labour ward rounds, review mothers, make plans of care or attend out of hours when requested. Consultants were also failing to attend cardiotocography (CTG) training routinely, and failed to follow guidelines. CTG enables monitoring of fetal heartbeats and contractions.

    Avoidable baby deaths

    Archie Powell died on 14 February 2019 when he was only four days old. He had fallen ill shortly after he was born and, despite showing all the symptoms of group B streptococcus, a common infection, he was treated for a bowel problem. Archie suffered severe brain damage as a result of the delayed treatment of his infection and died shortly afterwards. His death has been acknowledged by the Trust as being avoidable.

    In January 2019 a baby was stillborn after her mother was sent home despite raising concerns about her baby’s limited movement. Midwives struggled to obtain a good heart-reading for the baby but claimed to be satisfied with their recording. Two days later the mother returned to hospital, but her baby had sadly died. The Trust concluded that “the CTG should have been continued for longer and an ultrasound arranged.”

    Ally Taft of Medical Accident Group said: “It is shocking that so many babies and mothers have been allowed to go without the basic standard of treatment which could so easily prevent injury and death to both mother and child. The death of any child is a tragedy, but the avoidable death of a baby must lead to positive change being implemented.”

    If you or a family member have suffered from poor maternity care or avoidable injury or death, Medical Accident Group can help. We have a team of dedicated clinical negligence solicitors who will guide you through the process of making a claim. Call the team now on 0800 050 1668 or email us at [email protected].

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