Maternity Services – The QEQM hospital, Margate
October 19th 2022
First, I would like to thank Dr Bill Kirkup and his team for the patience and sensitivity with which he has families who have lost children as the result of the historic failings in the maternity services in the QEQM hospital, Margate, and for the dedicated approach that he has taken in generating his vital report. Having been involved in the matter from the time when these concerns and failings first came to light and having been instrumental in instigating the independent inquiry I hope that those who parents and families who have suffered will feel that while nothing will never eradicate their losses at the very least Dr. Kirkup has fairly and thoroughly exposed on their behalf what has gone wrong in the past and what further measures need to be taken to ensure that no families will in the future ever have to endure such painful and devastating experiences.
I am pleased that the Hospital Trust has agreed to accept the findings of the report and that, while many improvements have already been made the additional actions necessary to address continuing concerns and criticisms that have been exposed. The Trust`s new Chairman, Niall Dickson, and the new Chief Executive, Tracey Fletcher, with whom I have of course discussed these matters, are determined to pursue the necessary changes in custom and practice to ensure that confidence in the maternity services at Margate are fully restored and that the clinical care is entirely fit for purpose and I appreciate the candour with which they have responded to my own concerns.
There have been, I believe, serious failings in middle-management that remain to be resolved and there has been a lack of honesty and transparency that has been wholly unacceptable and has exacerbated the suffering of parents. That has to change.
I am also very concerned for the morale and wellbeing of a nursing and midwifery staff who have been exposed to unwarranted criticism and who are caring, determined and dedicated to their work. They have I believe, in the past, lacked the leadership and support, clinically and managerially, that their own professionalism has required and deserved.
Additionally – and I have written to both the previous Secretary of State and Therese Coffey, the current Secretary of State, in support of the Trust`s request for the funding necessary to implement the structural changes to the estate necessary to allow the staff to work in an appropriate environment. Three of my own grandchildren were born in the QEQM as a regular visitor to the hospital I am acutely aware of the difficulties faced by staff working under confined and sometimes difficult conditions. While it would be quite wrong to seek to place the blame for past failings on the buildings this modernisation is an investment in the future services that has to be made and I expect the Government to respond swiftly and positively to the recommendations of the Kirkup report and to my own further requests for further intervention and support.