Reports showing that babies and mothers died or were harmed as a result of failures by, and sometimes heartless cruel treatment in, NHS maternity units are becoming worryingly common.
Dr Bill Kirkup’s just-published 192-page exposé of an appalling catalogue of failings at East Kent NHS trust between 2009 and 2020 is the second in the last 12 months. As many as 45 babies and 23 mothers in East Kent died avoidably during that time because their care was substandard, his inquiry found.
March brought Donna Ockenden’s grim findings about poor maternity care at the Shrewsbury and Telford trust. And Kirkup produced the first detailed exposition of what inadequate care of women and their offspring during childbirth looked like when in 2015 he laid bare “serious and shocking” lapses in care at Morecambe Bay trust.
A fourth official inquiry, again being led by Ockenden, is under way into death, brain damage and other horrendous outcomes at the Nottingham trust. Families affected claim that, despite coroners’ findings, close scrutiny of the trust by regulators, media coverage of lapses in care and pressure for change, “babies, mothers and their families continue to be harmed”.
No wonder Rob Behrens, the NHS Ombudsman, says: “The phrase ‘never again’ is starting to ring hollow.”
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