East Kent Trust Fined £733,000 for Failures in Mother and Baby's Care

Dawn O'Shea

June 18, 2021

East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust has been fined £733,000 after admitting it failed to provide safe care and treatment resulting in avoidable harm to two patients in its care.

After going into labour on 1 November 2017, a series of events took place which placed Sarah Richford and her baby son Harry, at risk of avoidable harm. Due to the Trust not managing this risk of avoidable harm, following his birth on 2 November 2017, Harry was found to be unwell and placed into incubated care on a ventilator. However, on 9 November, seven days after his birth, Harry died.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) brought a prosecution against the Trust and in March 2021. In April the Trust pleaded guilty to the offence of failing to provide safe care and treatment to both Sarah and Harry Richford. Sentencing had been adjourned until today, where the Trust received a fine of £733,000 as well as a £170 victim surcharge and prosecution costs of £28,000.
 

'Pain and Suffering'

Nigel Acheson, Care Quality Commission (CQC) deputy chief inspector of hospitals, said: "No family should ever have to endure the pain and suffering that the Richford family have experienced. The trust's acceptance of responsibility for the errors in Harry and Sarah's care is welcome, but the fact remains that the series of events which led up to Harry's death could and should have been avoided.

"Where we find a healthcare provider has put people using its services at serious risk of harm, we will take action to hold them to account and ensure that others can receive safe care going forward.

"In most cases pregnancy and birth are a positive and safe experience for women and their families. But the death or injury of even one new baby or mother is one too many and something that everyone working in the health and care system must do all they can to prevent.

"We are committed to supporting improvements in maternity care. Our current risk-based focused maternity inspection programme is ensuring a robust focus on the safety of NHS maternity services nationally and is helping to identify where action is needed to ensure consistently safe, high quality care for all women and their families," Mr Acheson said.

Trust's Apology

After the hearing today, Niall Dickson, chair of East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, said: "I want to begin by saying how sorry we are for Harry Richford's death and to apologise unreservedly to his family for our failure to provide safe care and treatment for Harry and for his mother, Sarah.

"Harry's parents expected that they would return home with a healthy baby and we failed them," he said, and he fully acknowledge the mistakes that were made.

"I share the commitment of our midwives and doctors who work to provide high quality maternity care to the thousands of women who give birth at our hospitals each year.

"I know that today we have more senior doctors, more stringent checks on those we employ, strengthened training for our maternity staff and better monitoring of babies during labour. There is always more to do and we will continue to build on the steps that have been taken to improve the service we offer," Mr Dickson said.

"Learning and efforts to improve should never stop and we will continue to work tirelessly to provide a high-quality maternity service, which continually strives for improvement and is safe, effective, and centred on the women and children under our care," he said.

The Trust's maternity service is currently being independently reviewed by a team led by Dr Bill Kirkup. The investigation was commissioned by NHS England and NHS Improvement in February 2020.

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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