I wish to inform the House of the Government’s initial response to the report of the independent review into the maternity and neonatal services at East Kent University NHS Foundation Trust that was published on the 19 October 2022. NHS England commissioned Dr Bill Kirkup CBE to undertake this review following concerns about the quality and outcomes of care.
I would like to place on the record my gratitude to the families who came forward to contribute to this review, and to express my deepest sympathies for the loss and harm that Dr Kirkup discovered in the maternity and neonatal services at East Kent. I am also grateful for Dr Kirkup and his review team for his report. Taking each of the recommendations in turn:
1) The Government already has work underway to establish a Task Force with appropriate membership to drive the introduction of valid maternity and neonatal outcome measures capable of differentiating signals among noise to display significant trends and outliers, for mandatory national use.
2i) Those responsible for undergraduate, postgraduate and continuing clinical education will be commissioned to report on how compassionate care can best be embedded into practice and sustained through lifelong learning.
2ii) Relevant bodies, including Royal Colleges, professional regulators and employers, will be commissioned to report on how the oversight and direction of clinicians can be improved, with nationally agreed standards of professional behaviour and appropriate sanctions for non-compliance.
3i) Relevant bodies, including the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, will be charged with reporting on how teamworking in maternity and neonatal care can be improved, with particular reference to establishing common purpose, objectives and training from the outset.
3ii) Relevant bodies, including Health Education England, Royal Colleges and employers, will be commissioned to report on the employment and training of junior doctors to improve support, teamworking and development.
4i) The Government will consider in parallel with other relevant inquiries the duties placed on public bodies to share information with families.
4ii) Trusts will be required to review their approach to reputation management and to ensuring there is proper representation of maternity care on their boards.
4iii) The Government will continue to work with NHSE on its approach to poorly performing trusts and their leadership.
5) The Trust has already made a statement accepting the reality of these findings; acknowledging in full the unnecessary harm that has been caused; and embarking on a restorative process addressing the problems identified, in partnership with families, publicly and with external input.
We continue to work with NHS England and the Care Quality Commission regarding patient safety concerns at the Trust. Further information on how the recommendations are being implemented will be outlined in Spring 2023. The Department of Health and Social Care will also closely monitor progress on these recommendations alongside the recommendations of other maternity and neonatal service inquiries to improve standards of care for mothers and babies.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords