East Kent baby death hospital 'must listen to patients'

Image source, Richford family
Image caption,
Harry Richford was one of the babies who died as a result of failings

A hospital trust at the centre of an inquiry over baby deaths must put the experience of patients before "writing action plans", a panel was told.

East Kent Hospitals came in for criticism from Kent County Council's health and overview scrutiny committee.

The trust is being independently investigated over the deaths of 15 babies in its care.

It said steps were being taken to improve maternity services and more staff were being employed.

Failings came to light in January during the inquest of Harry Richford, who died at the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital (QEQM) in Margate in 2017.

A coroner ruled Harry's death was "wholly avoidable" and was contributed to by hospital neglect.

At the committee meeting on Thursday, Labour councillor Shane Mochrie-Cox called for the trust to take more responsibility for the failings, the Local Democracy Reporting Service reported.

He said: "There seems to be a level of accountability where it does not become accountability, it becomes writing action plans."

"I want an absolute commitment that it's patients and their voices and their experiences that will drive service delivery and improvements rather than more dashboards, more data and more remote decision making."

Image source, Family handout
Image caption,
Harry Richford suffered irreversible brain damage during resuscitation delays

Dr John Seaton, the trust's clinical director for women's health, said a five-year strategy was being worked on to look at the key aims for the trust.

The trust was not able to comment on one committee member's claims of 40 serious incidents and deaths but said it was working with the government commissioned team "positively" during the probe.

The trust said it had hired four extra consultant obstetricians at the QEQM as well as nine more staff recruited at Ashford's William Harvey hospital this year.

The trust said more senior midwives had also been hired as they seek to address areas where improvements were required by Care Quality Commission inspectors in January.

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