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NHS trust pleads guilty after 'avoidable' death of newborn baby
19 April 2021, 14:54
An NHS trust has pleaded guilty to failing to provide safe care and treatment after the death of a baby boy, following a first-of-its-kind prosecution.
Harry Richford died seven days after his emergency delivery, and an inquest found that his death at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate was "wholly avoidable".
On Monday, East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust admitted failing to provide safe care and treatment over the death in November 2017 and apologised to the Richford family.
It has been heavily criticised following a series of babies' deaths.
Harry's parents, Tom and Sarah Richford, spent years fighting for answers and campaigning for better maternity safety.
District Judge Justin Barron told Mr and Mrs Richford that he had the power to order an unlimited fine against the trust, ahead of sentencing on June 18.
Harry's parents said they now have "some sort of justice".
Mr Richford told PA news agency: "At every hurdle it did seem that the hospital were trying to avoid scrutiny, they didn't want to lose out on their reputation.
"So we kept having to fight and fight and fight, and eventually we've now got the inquests and the inquiries and the investigations that really mean that change should hopefully be more systemic and sustainable."
Mrs Richford said: "We've got some level of justice that means that although Harry's life was short, hopefully it's made a difference and that other babies won't die."
Following the plea, East Kent Hospitals chief executive Susan Acott said in a statement: "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."
Dr Bill Kirkup, who led the investigation into serious maternity failings at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, is leading an independent review into East Kent Hospitals' maternity services.