19 Apr Harry Richford: NHS trust pleads guilty to two charges over death of seven-day-old baby | UK News
An NHS trust has pleaded guilty to two charges of failing to provide safe care following the death of a newborn baby.
Harry Richford died seven days after his emergency delivery at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate in November 2017. An inquest previously found his death was “wholly avoidable”.
His parents Tom and Sarah Richford have spent years campaigning for answers about why their son died and also fighting for better maternity safety.
The prosecution, which is the first of its kind, was brought by the Care Quality Commission.
East Kent Hospitals University NHS Trust today admitted causing Harry and Sarah Richford harm by failing to provide safe care and treatment.
After Harry’s mother went into labour concerns were raised about Harry’s heartbeat.
A decision was made that he needed to be delivered but it wasn’t until an hour later that an attempt to deliver him using forceps was made, and a further half an hour until he was born by emergency caesarean.
The inquest found that Harry should have been delivered within 30 minutes of the decision being made and that the locum doctor who attempted the forceps delivery was inexperienced and not properly assessed.
Harry suffered irreversible brain damage and died a week later.
Following the court hearing at Folkestone Magistrates’ Court Harry’s family issued this statement:
“Today, the East Kent Hospitals Trust have submitted a plea of guilty on the two charges of unsafe care and treatment for Sarah and Harry Richford. This plea is welcomed as it will avoid all the awful details having to be replayed in public once more.
“For the period of 2020 following Harry’s inquest, neonatal deaths have fallen in the trust by 55% and still births by 20% compared to the previous seven-year average.
“This proves that with the right level of focus, leadership and attention, baby’s lives can be saved. Harry’s life and our sacrifice has made a significant difference here in East Kent and it must be maintained.
East Kent Hospitals chief executive, Susan Acott, said: “We are deeply sorry that we failed Harry, Sarah and the Richford family and apologise unreservedly for our failures in their care.
“We are determined to learn when things go wrong. Our midwives, our doctors and every member of our staff constantly strive to give good care every day. We have already made significant changes following Harry’s death and we will continue to do everything we can to learn from this tragedy.
“We are working closely with national maternity experts to make sure we are doing everything we can to make rapid and sustainable improvements.
“We have welcomed the independent investigation into maternity services in east Kent and we are doing everything in our power to assist and support the investigation.”