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Closing baby unit considered over safety concerns

Health inspectors considered shutting down a maternity unit earlier this year over safety concerns.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) instead called for "immediate improvements" following a visit to the William Harvey hospital in Ashford, Kent.

Helen Gittos, whose newborn daughter died in the care of the East Kent Hospitals Trust, said there were "fundamental" problems at the trust.

The inspection of East Kent's William Harvey hospital laid bare multiple instances of inadequate practices at the unit, including staff failing to wash their hands after each patient, and life-saving equipment not being in the right place.

Days after the visit, the watchdog raised safety concerns and threatened the trust with enforcement action to ensure patients are protected.

Ms Gittos, whose baby Harriet was born at the East Kent trust's Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital (QEQM) in 2014 and died eight days later, said: "When my daughter Harriet was born, the then head of midwifery was so concerned about safety that she thought that the William Harvey in particular should be closed down."

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Here we are, almost nine years later, in a similar kind of situation. What has been happening has not worked.

"I keep being surprised at how possible it is to keep being shocked about all of this, but I am shocked, that under so much scrutiny, and with so much external help, it's still the case that so much is not right.

"The problems that are revealed are so fundamental that we have to do things differently."

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Source: BBC News, 26 May 2023


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