Inside the horror hospitals where 45 babies died as moms were blamed for deaths and told it was 'God's will'

Dr Bill Kirkup who led the investigation said his findings into the East Kent trust between 2009 and 2020 were 'shocking and uncomfortable'

Inside the horror hospitals where 45 babies died as moms were blamed for deaths and told it was 'God's will'
(Representational photo, upixa/Getty Images)
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ASHFORD, UK: A damning report has revealed that 45 babies who died at Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital (QEQM) at Margate and the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, both in the UK, could have survived if they received better care. Several mothers came forward and revealed that they were made to feel the blame for what happened to their babies.

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Dr Bill Kirkup led the investigation and expressed that his findings into the substandard care at the East Kent Trust between 2009 and 2020 were nothing short of "shocking and uncomfortable" and had a ruinous impact on families. Kirkup's three-year-long inquiry exposed a series of issues with maternity services at the trust’s William Harvey hospital in Ashford and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother hospital in Margate.

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The panel established for the investigation heard the harrowing accounts of the families that had to deal with incompetent care at these institutions which led to irreparable damage. One bereaved mother told the panel, "My opinion will always be that [my baby] died because somebody didn’t do their job properly, and that’s fine if you work in Sainsbury’s but when it comes to a family’s life. It has affected me, my husband, our son. It’s devastating and it can’t be undone, it’s what we just have to live with." The report was made after the death of newborn Harry Richford in November 2017 when the midwife said that there was panic while resuscitating him.

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Kirkup explains that "the primary reason for this report is to set out the truth of what happened, for their sake, and so that maternity services in East Kent can begin to meet the standards expected nationally, for the sake of those to come." One mother revealed that she was taken into a tiny little box room as the medical staff told her, "'As long as you know, it is not our fault. It is no-one's fault. It is just one of those things." Another one said how a medical staff put the blame on her and said "Is there anything you think you could have done better?" The woman revealed that those words "stuck with me for months and months afterwards, I felt so guilty." 

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One grieving mother was denied access to a bereavement counselor as she was not having a funeral for her baby. She told the panel, "We asked to see the bereavement counsellor, and she refused to see us because we weren’t having a funeral, she was like, well, there’s nothing I can do for you." One woman was told by a midwife, a woman trained to assist women in childbirth, that her child was taken away by "God's will; God only takes the babies that he wants to take." 

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One woman explained the incompetence of the medical institution that led to a very traumatic delivery experience. Danielle Clark, described the challenging labor and birth she went through at QEQM, saying, "I had a son in 2013, I was induced but the reason I was induced was never communicated. The induction then took three days, I should have been offered an emergency C-section, but instead they gave me too much induction gel, over the Nice (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidelines. They should have only given me three doses and then reviewed the situation, but they carried on and gave me two more. I had a very traumatic delivery, they'd left it so long that they couldn't reverse to a C-section because if they were to do that it could have been fatal to my son or he could have had brain damage. Noah got very distressed, he ended up needed resuscitation and spent nine days in the special care baby unit."

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The report read, "An overriding theme, raised us with time and time again, is the failure of the trust's staff to take notice of women when they raised concerns, when they questioned their care, and when they challenged the decisions that were made about their care." The inquiry found that out of the 202 cases that were reviewed, 97 cases could have had a different outcome. The report further explained that out of 65 baby deaths examined, 45 could have had a different outcome if the basic protocol and national standards were followed.

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Following the publication of the report, Tracey Fletcher - chief executive of the Trust - released a statement saying, "I want to say sorry and apologise unreservedly for the harm and suffering that has been experienced by the women and babies who were within our care, together with their families, as described in today’s report. These families came to us expecting that we would care for them safely, and we failed them."

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