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East Kent NHS Trust fined £733,000 over death of baby Harry Richford

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East Kent Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was today fined £733,000 and ordered to pay costs of £28,000 after the first prosecution of its type (under the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014), brought by the Care Quality Commission.

The Trust had previously pleaded guilty, causing the fine to be reduced. District Judge Justin Barron, who handed down the sentence, indicated that he wanted to ensure that the seriousness of the failures were brought home to the Trust. He emphasized that the Trust must put in place practices and procedures to ensure that what happened to Harry Richford, who died in November 2017 as a result of the Trust’s wholly avoidable mistakes, did not happen to another child.

Harry died at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate as a result of suffering an hypoxic injury during his birth. 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 was not until an hour later that an attempt to deliver him using forceps was made and it was a further half an hour before he was born by emergency caesarean section. These delays resulted in Harry suffering a lack of oxygen, leading to irreversible brain damage. The coroner had already made a finding of neglect at the earlier inquest.

As a result of the information that Mr and Mrs Richford’s campaign has highlighted, the Trust is now being investigated in relation to a further 200 maternity cases which include the deaths of mothers and babies and in relation to children who have been left with severe brain injury.

Denise Stephens, medical negligence partner based in Shoosmiths' Thames Valley location, who already has two cases arising from sub-standard maternity care at the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, commented:

“Tom and Sarah Richford have suffered the ultimate tragedy in losing Harry. Investigations have shown that that this terrible loss was completely avoidable and Tom and Sarah’s determination to get to the truth will hopefully now lead to improved care at this and many other Trusts”.

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