Dr Bill Kirkup's four recommendations to overhaul NHS maternity services | Fieldfisher
Skip to main content

Dr Bill Kirkup's four recommendations to overhaul NHS maternity services

A recent guest at Fieldfisher's London office, Dr Bill Kirkup, former Associate Chief Medical officer for England, gave an overview of ongoing and underlying failings in maternity services that have contributed to one of the worst eras in NHS care.

Dr Kirkup was previously chair of the government commissioned reviews into catastrophic failings in maternity care at East Kent Hospitals Trust and Morecombe Bay maternity services and Liverpool Community Health Services.   

Focusing on the East Kent maternity review, Dr Kirkup identified bad team work, bullying behaviours, dominant egos, uncompassionate care, junior staff left unsupported and a refusal to listen to patients, leaving women unheard and ignored.

The investigation further identified a toxic culture of denial, deflection, blame and intimidation where families were often denied the truth and, at times, blamed directly or by implication for the failings in their maternity care.

The investigation revealed that out of the 202 families who came forward to have their experiences reviewed, at least half would have experienced a different outcome had nationally accepted standards of care been provided, and a staggering 69% of the baby deaths reviewed would have resulted in a different outcome.

Dr Kirkup set out four specific areas that require fundamental change, not only at East Kent Maternity Services, but at trusts across the country to keep mothers and babies safe and to restore public faith in NHS maternity care. These are:

Maternity signalling systems: ensuring that the data from trusts is properly ranked and made available to everyone to allow informed choices to be made;

Standards of behaviour: ensuring sufficient role models and that acceptable standards of behaviour are normalised;

Resolve flawed team working: ensuring that healthcare professionals work together with common purpose, ensuring trainees are supported and stamping out bullying behaviours;

Address organisational behaviour: moving away from a culture of denial under the guise of reputational management and ensuring that Duty of Candour is not just a tick box exercise.

* Photo credit: Rachel Luckhurst Photography.

Read about our stillbirth claims and birth injury claims and hear from clients

Sign up to our email digest

Click to subscribe or manage your email preferences.


Related expertise

Birth Injury Claims