The UK Government has pledged to take nationwide measures to improve the safety of maternity services in England following a damning report into poor care in East Kent that led to avoidable deaths.
At least 45 babies might have survived with better care at East Kent NHS, Dr Bill Kirkup’s review found last year.
We know that very sadly, one of these deaths was due to group B Strep – little Archie Powell died from group B Strep infection in 2019 aged just four days, despite showing many signs of infection that should have prompted treatment.
We responded when the East Kent report was published last year, calling on the NHS to truly learn from the findings, and our Chief Executive Jane Plumb MBE noted that “Too often these scandals are treated as a one-off, an aberration, and systems-wide learning is not taken on board.“
Group B Strep Support welcomes the Government’s response to the East Kent report and that the Minister for Mental Health and Women’s Health Strategy, Maria Caulfield MP, will chair a newly created maternity and neonatal care national oversight group. This will bring together the key people from the NHS and other organisations, including the CQC and HSIB, to “look across maternity and neonatal improvement programmes and the implementation of recommendations from this and other maternity reviews.”
The Government has appointed Dr Bill Kirkup, who led the East Kent investigation, to “work with healthcare partners to help ensure teams in maternity and neonatal care across England can work together more collaboratively so the best quality, compassionate care is provided.”
We welcome any work that will close gaps in knowledge across the NHS, and we hope this specifically includes group B Strep. Our recently published research found that two-thirds of new and expectant mothers are not receiving any information about group B Strep from a healthcare professional, despite national guidelines recommending that this should happen.
Our Chief Executive Jane Plumb MBE comments: