Damning report: 45 babies have died in English maternities in 10 years

Damning report: 45 babies died in English maternity hospitals in 10 years


Mistreatment in hospitals in the South East of England has led to the death of 45 babies in ten years, a 'shocking' report on Wednesday concluded, a new scandal reflecting the scale of the failures in British maternity hospitals. 

“Deaths, injuries and other harms could have ended differently if care had been given according to nationally accepted standards,” said the author of this report, Dr. Bill Kirkup at a press conference.

He studied 202 cases, babies born between 2009 and 2020 in two large maternities in east Kent, south-east England. Forty-five deaths could have been avoided, out of a total of 65 dead, the report concludes.

Bill Kirkup said he heard “harrowing” accounts from family, calling the findings of his investigation “shocking

There have been “breaches of professionalism, compassion and kindness,” he criticized. “Women were not being listened to”.

Signs of serious problems

“On at least eight occasions over a ten-year period, hospital officials received what should have been inevitable signals that there were serious problems,” he said. “They could have worked things out. The first time was in 2010. But they didn't. In each case, they found a way to deny that there were problems”, condemned Bill Kirkup.

In March, a previous report about him from maternity hospitals in the west of England had already prompted the government to apologise. It concluded that the deaths of more than 200 babies in twenty years, the result of a stubborn refusal of caesarean sections and a lack of adequate care, could have been avoided.

Donna Ockenden, who conducted this investigation, was commissioned in May to carry out another study in the Notthingham region of central England, after complaints from several families.

In 2015, another report, on maternity wards in northern England had concluded that a series of failures had led to the deaths of eleven babies and a mother, deaths which again could have been avoided.

Bill Kirkup was also the author of this report in 2015. “When I made this report (…) in 2015, I did not imagine for a moment that I would be back seven years later” to talk about the same subject, he said on the BBC. “This cannot continue. (…) We can't just pretend this is the last time this will happen”.