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Midwives and maternity staff at East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust were working for up to 20-hour days, with little time for a break, a report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has found. The shocking findings make for difficult reading for those who may have experienced more maternity care or wish to pursue a birth injury claim as a result.
A series of unannounced inspections by the CQC found that there were not enough maternity staff with the right qualifications or necessary training to prevent avoidable harm within the Trust. This also meant that women were, on occasion, transferred to alternative hospitals during labour. This no doubt made for a traumatic and difficult period for the women as well as increasing the possibility of a midwife negligence claim should an error have occurred.
Midwives also on occasion had to care for two women at once during labour, which contradicts national guidelines and increases the possibility of errors being made, or key decisions being delayed or missed. All of these can have devastating consequences for mothers and babies and result in birth injury compensation being sought.
The COVID pandemic has undoubtedly impacted the provision of maternity services with the inspection finding that community midwives were often carrying out telephone assessments and appointments instead of visiting new-born babies and their parents at home. This contradicts national guidance and could result in those most vulnerable families – such as babies at risk of abuse, or those who may need urgent medical attention, being missed by the system. It also places the Trust at a higher risk of birth injury compensation claims should negligent care result in the injury of either mother or baby.
The Trust has faced increasing criticism of its maternity services, following a number of tragic incidents including the failure to prevent avoidable mistakes, which resulted in a baby dying due to lack of oxygen and severe brain damage. However, the CQC did state that since its inspection the Trust have taken active measures to improve the provision of maternity services including the recruitment of an additional 38 midwives and further investment in its services. This, however, is likely to be of little comfort for those who have suffered adversely due to poor maternity care.
If you have received maternity care – pre or post birth from any maternity service run by East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, you may have questions regarding the quality of your care. Blackwater Law are specialist birth injury solicitors with extensive experience in managing complex birth injury claims. Call today for free initial advice.