Few news stories in recent weeks have been as shocking as the revelation that a number of babies have died at one of the East Kent hospitals when the deaths were preventable. We now know that the number of these preventable deaths might be as high as 15, despite lower numbers being quoted earlier.
It is entirely correct that Health Ministers have commissioned an urgent independent review of what happened at the William Harvey and the QEQM hospital in Margate. The investigation needed to be done by someone with no connections to the Hospitals Trust, so that we can all be confident that the findings are fair and unbiased.
I want to see three outcomes of this inquiry. The first is that the parents who have suffered these tragedies now feel that they have been provided with all the information they need. Of course nothing will ever be satisfactory, but the least they deserve is the full truth.
The second outcome, which is extremely urgent, is that anyone having a baby at our local hospitals is confident that they are getting the best care possible. To that end I am pleased that the national Chief Midwifery Officer has sent a team to the trust to work with the teams there. I hope this provides extra confidence for those having their babies at either of the hospitals.
The third is a more long-term culture change. There seems to have been an issue with reporting problems up the management structure. Keeping bad news from senior managers, in the hope that they will never find out, is always the wrong way to run an organisation. In this case it seems to have had tragic consequences.
The independent report needs to be produced quickly, but it needs to address some very fundamental issues about the way our local hospitals are run.