CQC prosecutes East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust for failures in mother and baby’s care

Published: 18 June 2021 Page last updated: 18 June 2021

East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust has been ordered to pay a total of £761,170 after admitting it failed to provide safe care and treatment resulting in avoidable harm to two patients in its care, Sarah Richford and Harry Richford.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) brought the prosecution after it emerged that 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.

In March 2021, the trust pleaded guilty to an offence of failing to provide safe care and treatment resulting in avoidable harm to both Sarah and Harry Richford. Sentencing had been adjourned until today.

The trust was fined £733,000 for the offence and ordered to pay a £170 victim surcharge and prosecution costs of £28,000 at Folkestone Magistrates’ Court today (Friday 18, June).

Nigel Acheson, CQC’s 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.”

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About the Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care in England.

We make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and we encourage care services to improve.

We monitor, inspect and regulate services to make sure they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety and we publish what we find to help people choose care.