As an independent review is launched into maternity care at yet another NHS Trust. 

Whilst the review is to be welcomed we have to pause for a moment and ask why the lessons of previous reviews are not being heeded and how can the problems underlying these tragedies be addressed?

An independent review has been commissioned by NHS England and NHS Improvement into maternity services in Margate and Ashford run by East Kent NHS Trust where up to 15 babies have reportedly died in potentially preventable circumstances in recent years. On Wednesday the trust's chief executive accepted that "six or seven deaths since 2011 were avoidable. 

This independent review follows a series the revelations that emerged during the recent inquest of Harry Richford who died age 7 days at Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate in November 2017.

The main concerns highlighted during the inquest were matters previously raised with the NHS Trust in earlier audits including by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Care Quality Commission. The themes that have emerge paint a sadly all too familiar picture of:

-  staff shortages

- lack of supervision by consultants and poor team working 

- failures to follow established guidance and best practice

-  insufficient training in key areas such as CTG (fetal heart rate) monitoring

mirroring concerns raised during previous high profile maternity care scandals including notably at Morecambe Bay and Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals.

These are systemic issues that will require fundamental shifts in culture and dedicated investment in training and staff to overcome. 

The only way to improve care and to prevent future tragedies is to address these failings through funding and resources, but the price we continue to pay by not learning from these scandals is so much greater. 

Freeths solicitors have considerable experience and expertise in representing and securing settlements for clients in cases where there has been substandard care leading to stillbirth, death during pregnancy, neonatal death, brain injury and cerebral palsy.

Catherine Bell is a specialist in birth injury and obstetric claims. Catherine is also an accredited panel solicitor for AvMA, Action against Medical Accidents, an independent patient safety charity, providing advice and support to patients. 

If you are concerned about care which you or a loved one have received, please contact our team on 01865 781000 or Catherine directly at 01865 7681140 / catherine.bell@freeths.co.uk 

The Freeths Clinical Negligence department is headed by:

Carolyn Lowe, Partner (Oxford/Milton Keynes) on 0186 578 1019 carolyn.lowe@freeths.co.uk

Karen Reynolds, Partner (Derby/Stoke on Trent/Birmingham) on 0845 272 5677 karen.reynolds@freeths.co.uk

Jane Williams, Partner (Leicester/Nottingham) on 0845 272 5724 jane.williams@freeths.co.uk