Statement from the IMWG in response to the East Kent Independent Report Reading the Signals

on 28 November 2022 Midwifery Midwives RCM Maternity Safety

The Independent Maternity Working Group (IMWG) was commissioned by the DHSC and NHSE at the end of August 2022 to advise and support the Maternity Transformation Programme (MTP) around implementation of the Immediate and Essential Actions (IEAs) identified in the Ockenden Review, the East Kent independent investigation by Dr Bill Kirkup and other reports currently being prepared.

The IMWG membership[i]  consists of organisations working across maternity and neonatal services, the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England, regulators, frontline midwifery and obstetric staff and service user representatives. It is an example of collaborative working and commitment to improving safety in maternity services, acting as a collective voice to support the whole system to achieve the changes required to ensure that all women receive safe, compassionate maternity care.

The IMWG is also committed to ensuring diversity is considered in all conversations as part of the work of the Group, whilst also committing to ensuring this focus continues in the projects undertaken by those we represent.

The membership of the IMWG is designed to ensure the group can advise and guide the MTP as it implements recommendations from national reports into maternity safety. It is not designed to replicate or replace existing structures and its scope is tightly focused on advising on the MTP’s planned and future activities, with a deliberately small membership to allow it to be fast-paced and action-focused. Engagement with service users and service user representatives will continue via existing NHS groups and structures and in the organisations sitting on the IMWG, but not through the group itself.

The organisations involved in the IMWG bring a wealth of experience in providing maternity and neonatal care and implementing programmes to improve services.  The RCOG and RCM, the Co-Chairs of the IMWG, work closely at an organisational level, to bring about positive improvements in maternity care, both for women and families and for the staff who work in maternity services. The two organisations have established joint programmes, including the National Maternal and Perinatal Audit and the Tommy’s National Centre for Maternity Improvement, that have played a central role in the achievements in maternity safety to date. They have worked hard in recent years to embed a strong culture of partnership working across the two organisations, so they can speak with one voice.

The IMWG has met three times to date and in November held its first meeting since the publication of the East Kent report. The Group would like to acknowledge the courage of the women and families who shared their stories with the East Kent review team and reiterate our heartfelt condolences to them.

The IMWG, whilst acknowledging the work already undertaken to address the recommendations from these reports, needs to highlight that this cannot be achieved without the necessary investment from the Government as set out in the Ockenden report and the IMWG is awaiting an update on this.

The IMWG will continue to act as a critical friend to those who have the responsibility to fund and implement the actions and recommendations from these reports, ensuring they have a meaningful impact in improving maternity services and support those delivering care to do so to the highest standards.


[i] IMWG membership:

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

Royal College of Midwives

Frontline midwifery staff

Frontline obstetric staff

RCM Shared Voices Network Chair

RCOG Women’s Network representative

Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health

British Association of Perinatal Medicine

Society and College of Radiographers

Obstetric Anaesthetists Association

Royal College of Obstetric Anaesthetists

Care Quality Commission

Department of Health and Social Care

NHS England

Health Education England