A damning report into the deaths of newborn babies at an NHS Trust is due to be published.
The investigation into maternity services at East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust has examined more than 200 cases of poor care dating back to 2009.
It is expected to find that babies died unnecessarily and the Trust failed to learn from failures in care over many years.
The report has been chaired by Dr Bill Kirkup who also led the investigation in 2015 into deaths of mothers and babies at the Morecambe Bay NHS Trust.
The report was commissioned in 2020 following growing concerns about the quality of care at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital (QEQM) in Margate and the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford.
It followed the death of baby Harry Richford who died a week after he was born in November 2017. He suffered brain damage after mistakes were made during his mother’s labour and delivery and there were delays in resuscitating him.
His family referred his death to a coroner and an inquest ruled that his death was “wholly avoidable”.
The Trust subsequently pleaded guilty to two counts of unsafe care and treatment for Harry and his mother Sarah. It was fined £733,000.
In November 2019 Laura Cooke took her four week old baby Luchii to the QEQM with a mottled rash, erratic breathing and reduced feeding.
He was sent home without treatment after a doctor diagnosed the lung infection bronchiolitis. In fact, Luchii had tuberculosis but doctors failed to realise before his death on 6 December.
Mrs Cooke said she felt ignored by medics as her concern for her son increased. “I just felt I wasn’t listened to. They kept making me feel like I was going insane, going crazy… no one was listening to me.”
Luchii’s father Vlado Gavrilescu recalls the last time he saw his son.
“The doctor said everything is alright, he’s going to be transferred to the London hospital and after 30 minutes they came and said he’s passed away.
“This basically destroyed me. My first child.”
The Care Quality Commission has repeatedly ranked the Trust’s maternity services as “requires improvement”. During unannounced inspections in July 2021 there were not enough midwifery staff and maternity support workers to keep women and babies safe.
In 2020, the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB), which investigates NHS harm, detailed how, despite repeated warnings from its investigators, improvements were not made to maternity care at the trust.
The Kirkup report comes just months after a review by independent midwife Donna Ockenden found poor care at the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust led to the avoidable deaths of 201 babies.
Michelle Meakin, a partner with Girlings Solicitors who has represented families in East Kent told Sky News: “There needs to be more investment and there needs to be a culture change.
“So many people come to me with the hope that this won’t happen to another family but sadly as we’ve seen from these reviews the same mistakes keep happening.”