A ‘harrowing’ report on a string of pregnancy failures at a scandal-stricken NHS trust is due to be published tomorrow.
East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust staff have been warned to brace themselves for ‘distressing’ details.
It is expected to describe how newborn babies died needlessly as a result of poor care over several years.
The report is also expected to reveal how families have often been ignored or their concerns overlooked, while trust has not learned valuable lessons.
East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust admitted mistakes in the case of Harry Richford (pictured above, with his parents Tom and Sarah Richford), who died days after his emergency delivery in November 2017
Families of babies who received poor care at the trust will be the first to read the findings. They are expected to be the parents of Archie Batten, who died at QEQM in September 2019. Pictured, Rachel Higgs and Andrew Batten with Archie
Pictured above are the ten NHS Trusts with the lowest C-section rates during the year to March 2021, the newest available. There were five trusts with lower C-section rates than Shrewsbury and Telford, which were at the center of Britain’s biggest maternity scandal. A devastating five-year investigation found the trust’s obsession with “normal births” contributed to failures. *Official NHS data reports the rate with Royal Cornwall at 15 per cent but the trust disputes these statistics
WHAT IS A STILLBIRTH?
A stillbirth occurs when a baby is stillborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy.
If a baby dies before 24 weeks of pregnancy, it is known as a pregnancy loss.
Not all stillbirths can be prevented, but not smoking or drinking, not sleeping on your back, and attending all prenatal appointments can reduce the risk.
What are the signs?
Signs may be that the baby is not moving as much as usual.
Pregnant women should contact their doctor immediately if they notice a difference in their baby’s movement.
What are the causes?
Stillbirths do not always have an obvious cause, but can occur due to complications with the placenta or a birth defect.
They are also more common if women suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes, or an infection that affects the baby, such as the flu.
Stillbirths are more common if women have twin or multiple pregnancies, are overweight, smoke, are over 35, or have a pre-existing condition such as epilepsy.
What Happens After a Stillbirth?
If a baby has died, women can wait for their labor to begin naturally or they can be induced if their health is at risk.
Repentance support groups are available for parents who have had stillbirths.
Some find it helpful to name their baby or have their picture taken with him.
The chief executive of the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust sent an email to staff ahead of the report’s publication, which was delayed following the Queen’s death.
Tracey Fletcher warned colleagues to expect a “distressing report that will have a profound and significant impact on families and colleagues, particularly those working in maternity care.”
dr. Bill Kirkup, who also chaired the Morecambe maternal and baby deaths investigation in 2015, led the investigation involving more than 200 families.
East Kent runs major hospitals, with the main maternity care at Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital (QEQM) in Margate and William Harvey Hospital in Ashford.
The family of baby Harry Richford, who died a week after his birth at QEQM in 2017, has long campaigned for answers after saying their concerns were repeatedly brushed aside by hospital managers.
The trust was fined £733,000 last year for errors in Harry’s care after he suffered brain damage.
An earlier inquest ruled his death “completely avoidable” and found more than a dozen areas of concern, including flaws in the way an “inexperienced” doctor conducted the delivery, followed by delays in resuscitating him.
A midwife described “panic” during attempts to resuscitate Harry, while a nurse said the scene was “chaotic”.
After Harry’s death, the East Kent Trust registered his death as ‘expected’ and did not inform the coroner.
Only the efforts of Harry’s family eventually brought his death to the attention of coroner Christopher Sutton-Mattocks.
Last October, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which inspects hospitals, reiterated its concerns about trust, which it has repeatedly labeled an ‘improver’.
It said that during unannounced inspections in July 2021, there were not enough midwives and maternity workers to keep women and babies safe.
The inspectors said the staff felt exhausted, stressed and anxious, while some midwives in the community had taken on extra work in the acute units, meaning they sometimes worked 20-hour days.
One of the babies, born at East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, lived for five days before being classified as a stillbirth
In 2020, the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB), which is investigating the damage to the NHS, detailed how, despite repeated warnings from its investigators, no improvements were made to maternity care at the trust.
The HSIB began working with East Kent maternity wards in 2018 and identified ‘recurring safety concerns’, including how CTG readings were interpreted, infant resuscitation, recognition of maternal and infant decline, and staff willingness to escalating their concerns to more senior medics.
As of December 2018, the HSIB said it was “often involved” with the trust over its concerns, but continued to see the same things happen.
In August 2019, it asked the trust to refer itself to the CQC and regional health chiefs.
The families of babies who received poor care at the trust will be the first to hear the findings of Dr. Read Kirkup.
They are expected to be the parents of Archie Batten, who died at QEQM in September 2019.
A coroner ruled that he died of natural causes ‘attributed to neglect’ and ‘gross failure’.
How Baby Harry Died Just Seven Days in His Life
After arriving at the hospital on Nov. 2, 2017, Ms Richford was given a drug to speed up labor over a 10-hour period – a decision criticized by the coroner’s office for hyperstimulating Harry.
She was rushed to the theater for an emergency cesarean section after Harry started showing signs of anxiety and medics tried to give birth with forceps before performing an emergency section.
Harry should have been delivered within 30 minutes but was instead delivered after about 92 minutes.
An earlier inquest ruled that Harry’s death was “completely avoidable” and found more than a dozen areas of concern. Pictured, Harry’s parents Tom and Sarah Richford
Locum registrar Dr. Christos Spyroulis, described by the coroner as ‘inexperienced’, delivered Harry at 3:32 am.
The inquiry found that there was no record of the physician’s assessment, and he said he had not been asked about his level of experience.
Staff nurse Laura Guest had described the scene as ‘chaotic’, adding that she ‘didn’t feel it was being highly directed’.
The CPR started after Harry was born “still and limp” and didn’t move.
Harry died on November 9 after his life support was removed.