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Trust CEOs and chairs to blame for care failings which saw death of over 40 babies

A series of chairs and chief executives at an acute trust were ‘wrong’ to believe the organisation was providing acceptable care over an 11-year period and should be held accountable for one of NHS’s largest maternity care scandals, an inquiry concluded today.

Bill Kirkup’s inquiry into East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust found 45 of the 65 deaths of babies examined could have been prevented. It also concluded the overall outcome of 48% of 202 cases investigated could have been different, if care had matched nationally recognised standards. 

It also warned that the unjustified belief that things “would get better” as a result of management changes still continued at the trust.

The report added that problems in the service were visible to senior managers and the board through a succession of reports, dating back to 2009. 

The report stated: “We have concluded that accountability lies with the successive trust boards and the successive chief executives and chairs. They had the information that there were serious failings, and they were in a position to act; but they ignored the warning signs and strenuously challenged repeated attempts to point out problems. This encouraged the belief that all was well, or at least near enough to be acceptable. They were wrong.”


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