East Kent NHS Trust Prosecuted Over Baby Death

Peter Russell

October 09, 2020

East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust is to be prosecuted over the death of a baby in its care.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) said the Trust was being charged with exposing Harry Richford and his mother Sarah Richford to significant risk of avoidable harm.

Baby Harry died on 9 November 2017, seven days after he was born.

An inquest found his death at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate, following an emergency caesarean section, had been "wholly avoidable".

The trust faces two charges of failing to provide safe care and treatment.

The CQC said it was unable to comment further due to legal restrictions.

'Landmark Decision'

In a statement, Harry's grandfather, Derek Richford, said: "We are pleased that the CQC have made the landmark decision in making a criminal prosecution of the East Kent Hospitals Trust regarding the unsafe care and treatment of Sarah and Harry Richford.

"It will now be for the courts to hear all of the evidence that the CQC and our family have amassed over the last 3 years and to decide whether the clinical care and treatment offered at that time could be considered safe, or whether there was a criminal breach of the duty of care that was clearly owed to both Sarah and Harry at their most vulnerable time."

The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch has been investigating East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust since July 2018 following a series of baby deaths. The investigation has focused on the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Margate and the William Harvey in Ashford, which both provide maternity services.

It identified 24 maternity cases warranting investigation.

Independent Review

In February, Health Minister Nadine Dorries told the Commons that NHS England and NHS Improvement were commissioning an independent review, led by Dr Bill Kirkup, into East Kent maternity services.

In a statement today, Susan Acott, chief executive of East Kent Hospitals, said: "We are deeply sorry and apologise unreservedly for our failure to provide safe care and treatment resulting in the death of baby Harry in November 2017.

"Mr and Mrs Richford's expectation was that they would welcome a healthy baby into their family. We are deeply sorry that we failed in our role to help them do that and for the devastating loss of baby Harry.

"We recognise the mistakes in both Harry's delivery and subsequent resuscitation and that Harry's family was not given the support and answers they needed at the time. We deeply regret the extra pain that this caused them.

"The Trust has admitted to the CQC that it failed to provide safe care and treatment, for which we are profoundly sorry."

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