'Callous and cruel': Deaths of 45 babies at East Kent NHS Trust could have been prevented


    The independent report accused the trust of “callousness and cruelty” in its treatment of women in labour.

    Maternity services were described by staff as “a vipers’ nest” while a culture of bullying was fostered, putting mothers and babies in danger.

    Trust chiefs were also slammed for “covering up the scale and systemic nature”, according to the report published on Wednesday.

    Chairman of the review Dr Bill Kirkup said he had “not seen evidence” that the situation had significantly changed.

    The inquiry, which looked at maternity at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital at Margate and the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford between 2009 and 2020, found “gross failures of teamworking across the Trust’s maternity services”.

    Over 200 cases were investigated in the review, in which it was found the outcome would have been different in almost half of the cases, had they been provided with the right care.

    Derek Richford fought for five years for justice for his grandson Harry, who passed away seven days after he was born in November 2017 at the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate.

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    One woman, whose baby had died, was told: “It’s God’s will; God only takes the babies that he wants to take.”

    Another family, whose baby had suffered brain damage, asked staff how extensive the damage was, and were reportedly told: “Work it out yourself.”

    Dr Kirkup added: “NHS staff are operating under strain, but that is not an excuse for uncaring, rude or aggressive behaviour.”


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