East Kent Hospitals Trust to be prosecuted over death of baby Harry Richford

Baby Harry Richford Photo with thanks to http://harrysstory.co.uk/

East Kent Hospitals Trust will be prosecuted over the avoidable death of seven day old Harry Richford at Margate’s QEQM Hospital in 2017.

The Care Quality Commission is to charge the Trust with two offences of failing to provide safe care and treatment,. It will be the first case of its kind against a Trust brought under powers the CQC was given in 2015.

On July 30 the CQC wrote to the Trust indicating that it was considering a prosecution of the organisation for a breach of Regulation 12 of the Health & Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014.

The decision follows a coroner ruling that the death of Harry was avoidable.

The inquest had heard of the “panic” after Harry was born by emergency Caesarean section during which his heartbeat kept dropping. Harry died seven days after his delivery from a condition caused by a lack of oxygen. An independent report said he might have survived had there not been a delay in resuscitation at his birth that caused irreversible brain damage.

On January 24) Coroner Christopher Sutton-Mattocks agreed with that conclusion and said Harry and his parents had been ‘failed.’

Photo with thanks to http://harrysstory.co.uk/

There was also criticism of the hospital trust which had said Harry’s death was expected, resulting in his parents, Tom and Sarah Richford, from Birchington, having to fight for an inquest.

The couple were supported by North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale, who commended them for their ‘courage and quiet dignity.’

The CQC said in a statement: “The trust is charged with exposing Harry Richford and his mother, Sarah Richford, to significant risk of avoidable harm.

“Baby Harry tragically died on the 9 November 2017, seven days after he was born on the 2 November.

“CQC is unable to comment further at this time due to legal restrictions.”

Harry’s grandad 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.

“In the meantime, the Kirkup Inquiry will carry on their work looking into the way maternity services were delivered since 2009 for all families affected, with the aim of finding the truth and ensuring these circumstances cannot be repeated. We would encourage anyone with any kind of maternity issue in East Kent since 2009 to make contact with the Inquiry to share their story.

“Our family have been in the spotlight for nearly 3 years; now is our time to pass the responsibility of finding the truth and ensuring lasting change in East Kent to The CQC, the Courts, Bill Kirkup and indeed the government. With this in mind we would ask for our privacy to be respected at this time.”

‘Our failure’

East Kent Hospitals Chief Executive, Susan Acott, 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.”

The troubled maternity service has been subject to a report by the Health and Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) which found recurrent patient safety risks at the Trust maternity sites at QEQM Margate and William Harvey Hospital and is subject to a review commissioned by NHS England and NHS Improvement into the maternity and neonatal services.  The investigation is being led by Dr Bill Kirkup and is expected to cover the period since 2009.  Dr Kirkup expects to report in 2021.  

It is thought that as many as 40 families have now come forward to the review with concerns.

The charges are that between November 1-2, 2017 at Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital, East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, failed to discharge a duty imposed on it by Regulation 12(1) of the Regulations, in that it failed to provide safe care and treatment exposing Sarah Richford, to a significant risk of avoidable harm.

And on the same dates the Trust failed to provide safe care and treatment exposing Harry Richford, to a significant risk of avoidable harm.

Call to resign

Kent County Councillor Karen Constantine has called for Trust CEO Susan Acott to step down, saying: “It is extremely regrettable and very sad that the trust is going to be prosecuted. The trust now need to redouble their efforts to rebuild public trust and confidence. It is time for a new CEO. Susan Acott must now accept that the responsibility for these systemic management failings, leading to loss of life, and the danger reputation of the trust is hers and hers alone.

“There are far too many failings at EKHUFT for this to be overlooked any further. We need a new CEO urgently for the public to feel secure about their, and their loved ones health care and well-being at this trust. I have written to Matt Hancock Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, to raise my concerns. The residents of Thanet deserve much, much better than this blighted service. Likewise our NHS staff need strong dependable leadership.”

Couple’s anger as Trust admits baby son’s death could have been prevented if doctors had treated dad’s TB


  1. It is worse than a nightmare for the parents and families. One wakes up from a nightmare you don’t wake up from this ever. R.I.P. little ones.

  2. Another avoidable tragedy. Our EKHT appears not to be fit for purpose and the lives of the community put at deadly risk.
    At least the truth has been exposed not that it is any comfort to the family.

    • And the management agrees with the Kent and Medway STP to close the stroke unit at QEQM. More lives will be put at risk from the increased travel time to Ashford.

  3. Most importantly from this is that it should shake up the management and methods of the EKHT,, saving lives for the future. This is nothing new here and top heads should roll if found wanting in their administration. After all, they usually command eye watering salaries to get it right.!

    • I think that’s a bit much!
      If medical practitioners were routinely prosecuted and sent to prison when someone in their care tragically died, no-one would become a nurse or doctor.

      • Andrew, perhaps you haven’t had time to read the case and know about the other babies who have died? Perhaps you think it is acceptable that the QEQM is being run into the ground by the East Kent Health Trust(sic)? Perhaps you find it acceptable that the EKHT is allowing many other patients to die with Government endorsement by withholding treatment and surgeries for non-Covid patients and indeed allowing patients without C-19 to contract the disease by staff misusing or not having the correct PPE and not observing stringent infection control? Perhaps too you think it reasonable that we have an overloaded A&E department whilst Canterbury’s past lamentable offering is closed. And finally, as Dr(medical) Coral Jones highlights, this is the trust that has effectively closed any meaningful treatment for the residents, workers and visitors to Thanet who have this misfortune to have a stroke and has decided to pack them off on a blue light death run to Ashford where allegedly miracle revivals will take place in a Hyper-Acute Stroke Unit. You may also think that it is acceptable to have a video consultation with your GP, rather like ‘Embarrassing Bodies”
        Anway Andrew, you haven’t read the story properly if you think that suddenly nurses and doctors are going to be incarcerated for not being trained or managed properly. The buck stops with what constitutes the remnants of our NHS with the TRUST! This Government let itself off the liability hook in 2012. RIP NHS

      • I think much of what I have addressed to you Andrew should have been directed to Tony. Apologies. Scrolling on a smartphone can evade context!

  4. Once again Isle of Thanet News you act as platform for Cllr Constantine.

    You conceal facts which would expose Cllr Constantine as herself a hazard to Thanet Health.

    Susan Acott, Karen Constantine, TDC, CCG have ALL been involved in concealing material facts from Courts, Inquests and independent inquiries.

    You know full well I had to go direct to Kirkup Inquiry to get to that one. And you know full well, after making crime complaint and arguing jurisdiction with police 2019, CQC spoke to QEQM about reportable facts.

    You know full well Cllr Constantine jumped ship at TDC to stop Standards pursuing this line of questioning against her. She clings like a limpet to her health scrutiny role at KCC where she still hasn’t come clean re her concealments of facts, contrary to 2012 Health and Social Care Act. The woman is a leftie menace

    It is good QEQM is being prosecuted.

  5. Richard Card, I understand you no longer live here yet keep attacking a KCC councillor who among others, has raised issues over local NHS outcomes. Please move on. Your regular diatribes are becoming tedious.

  6. This is absolutely the right decision to take action, and expose the many failings. No doubt there will sadly be more cases to follow.

  7. Anyone who thinks being pregnant is risk free can see by these events just how precarious it can be. On one hand most mother’s want a natural delivery, when that does not happen the waiting before a decision is made to go for a C-Section operation is carried out. In the meantime it’s crucial that the baby is not going into foetal distress. It’s a balancing act that can and sometimes does lead to tragedy.

  8. This is not about money or lack of staff, it is about management, procedures and a culture of “we know best”. At last the maternity department here, that has been failing since at least 2013 will be managed appropriately and staff can once more be proud of where they work. The main board should bow their heads in shame and resign.

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