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Maternity Services: East Kent

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:06 am on 13th February 2020.

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Photo of Nadine Dorries Nadine Dorries The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care 11:06 am, 13th February 2020

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his collaborative tone on this issue. I think he may have missed my last comment, which was that NHS England and NHS Improvement will be commissioning an independent inquiry. That has been decided this morning, so that will happen.

On the hon. Gentleman’s first question about what is happening to support the trust now, NHS Improvement is in there. As I said, the chief midwife, Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, has sent in some of the best midwives, obstetricians and neonatologists in the country from outstanding trusts to support the trust. They are having twice-daily huddles on the wards, which is where multi- disciplinary teams get together and discuss on an ongoing and regular basis what is happening on the wards, what disciplines are involved and what measures are being taken. We have fresh eyes looking at the cartography that measures foetal heart rates and contractions. We have a second pair of eyes reading those cartography read-outs, so it is not just down to one midwife.

A huge amount of support has gone into the trust. As I said, it is today a safe place for anyone to give birth. We are also asking HSIB to go in to do that deep dive to look at historical issues. Whether that will continue in light of the fact that NHS England is commissioning an independent inquiry is something I need to find out when I leave the Chamber. However, I want to reassure the hon. Gentleman and everybody that this is an issue that I take very, very seriously.

Babies bring joy and happiness when they arrive, and every family—every mother, every father and, indeed, every grandparent—is entitled to know that when they or their relative is in hospital, the delivery will happen in a safe environment, with the very best care. I can say that that is the case at East Kent now, and I—we all—will strive to make sure that it is the case at every hospital.