Call for transparency on 12 mums’ deaths

GV of Homerton University Hospital, of Homerton Row.

GV of Homerton University Hospital, of Homerton Row. - Credit: Archant

Healthcare campaigners have called for more transparency from Homerton Hospital, after a Freedom of Information (FOI) request revealed there have been 12 deaths with links to its maternity unit since 2006 but did not disclose the dates.

Last year NHS England was called in to oversee a report into the deaths of five women at the hospital’s maternity unit in the space of eight months. After the investigation began, another mother died there last January.

In the whole of England and Wales last year there were 47 maternal deaths during pregnancy, childbirth and the six-week period following birth.

Christine Papalabropoulos, who has been campaigning for healthcare rights since her 23-year old daughter died due to blunders at Basildon Hopsital, and former midwife at the hospital in Homerton Row, Pamela Linton, attended Hackney Council’s health scrutiny committee meeting last Thursday night, to quiz the hospitals’ directors on the figures they obtained through the FOI.

It asked how many maternal deaths occurred between 2006 until October 2015 of mothers allocated midwives from Homerton throughout their pregnancy or until they were transferred to another hospital, and whether the mother died at Homerton, at home or another hospital.

But the hospital refused to state the dates and places of death.

Ms Linton said: “In view of the 12 maternal deaths that the FOI disclosed I detect a lack of openness and transparency. How can the public be reassured that this policy has been strictly and successfully implemented, given that these deaths have not been fully acknowledged?”

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Medical director Martin Kuper told her they were restricted by the duty of confidentiality which extends after death.

“Clearly the answer should have been put out and broken down with more detail,” he said.

“The question of how you respond without going into any detail is very difficult, if you go to hospital you have the right not to have that discussed just as there is a legal right and duty not to have details of patient’s care discussed in public.

“It’s also not appropriate for us to discuss the details of people who died at other hospitals.”

Ms Papalabropoulos asked whether there had been any deaths related to the Homerton apart from the one in January 2015.

Mr Kuper replied: “I think we need to be a little bit careful here, you are talking about a particular case about a particular patient, and we need to be careful.”

Anonymous whistleblower midwives – who persistently warned about the ‘avoidable’ deaths of mothers and babies at Homerton University Hospital since 2012 – said they felt vindicated last August when health inspectors deemed “safety was not a sufficient priority” at the maternity unit following an unannounced inspection.

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