Published on 18 June 2021
In April this year, the Trust pleaded guilty to the charge that it caused Harry and Sarah Richford harm by failing to provide safe care and treatment in a prosecution brought by the CQC under regulation 12 of the Health & Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014.
The sentencing of the Trust took place at Folkestone Magistrates Court this morning. The Trust was fined £733,000 and must pay £28,000 in costs and a £170 victim surcharge.
After the hearing, Niall Dickson CBE, Chair of East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, said:
"I want to begin by saying how sorry we are for Harry Richford’s death and to apologise unreservedly to his family for our failure to provide safe care and treatment for Harry and for his mother, Sarah.
"Harry’s parents expected that they would return home with a healthy baby and we failed them. Those of us who have not been through such a tragedy cannot appreciate what they have suffered.
"We fully acknowledge the mistakes that we made.
"I share the commitment of our midwives and doctors who work to provide high quality maternity care to the thousands of women who give birth at our hospitals each year.
I know that today we have more senior doctors, stringent checks on those we employ, strengthened training for our maternity staff and better monitoring of babies during labour. But there is more to do and we will continue to build on the steps that have been taken to improve the service we offer. And a critical part of that must be making sure we respect and listen to women and their families and I pay tribute to Harry’s family for their tenacity in making sure lessons are learned.
"Our maternity service is being independently reviewed by Dr Bill Kirkup and his team. We welcome that and are determined to learn any lessons that emerge from that investigation.
"Learning and efforts to improve should never stop and we will continue to work tirelessly to provide a high-quality maternity service, which continually strives for improvement and is safe, effective, and centred on the women and children under our care."
Around 7,000 babies are born in East Kent Hospitals each year – just under 4,000 at the William Harvey Hospital, Ashford, and just under 3,000 at Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital, Margate.
The Trust has had support from the NHS Maternity Support Programme to improve its maternity service from early 2020. Changes the Trust has made to its maternity service include:
- Adding consultants, auditing senior clinician oversight of births at our hospitals and increasing the hours some consultants work. We now have a 24-hour consultant presence at our busy acute maternity unit at William Harvey Hospital, Ashford. Extended consultant presence has been implemented at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital, Margate. Safety huddles and ward rounds take place consistently at each hospital, as well as a daily cross site consultant call.
- New standards for obstetric care on our labour wards and improved recruitment, assessment, support and supervision of our temporary / locum doctors
- Comprehensive training for all maternity staff on identifying and safely supporting difficult births
- A restructure of the service to strengthen the leadership and governance and to provide more senior clinical support and oversight
- Implementation of a more comprehensive way of monitoring the fetal heart during labour, and digital centralised CTG monitoring is in place.
More information about maternity services at East Kent Hospitals is available at https://www.ekhuft.nhs.uk/patients-and-visitors/news-centre/maternity-news