Kent

Harry Richford death: East Kent hospital maternity cases investigated

Harry Richford with parents Sarah and Tom Image copyright Family handout
Image caption The inquest was told Harry would have survived but for failings by the hospital

Twenty-six maternity cases are being investigated at a hospital trust where a series of failings led to a baby's death.

Harry Richford died seven days after his birth at the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate, Kent, in November 2017.

A coroner ruled Harry's death was "wholly avoidable". Now the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is investigating the East Kent NHS Trust.

The trust has been asked to comment.

The DHSC says results from an investigation and unplanned inspection from health watchdog the Care Quality Commission will be available within two weeks.

Last week a BBC investigation found at least seven preventable baby deaths had occurred at the same trust.

One of those was Tallulah-Rai Edwards, who died in January 2019. The trust has admitted it should have monitored her heartbeat for longer.

Her father Nic Edwards said it was "despicable" regulations and procedures had not been adhered to.

"That's the bugbear, what gets to you inside, it was so easily avoidable," he added.

His wife Shelley added: "I went there telling them something wasn't right...If they had just listened to me, and took me seriously, we'd have been celebrating today. All they had to do was listen."

Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Harry Richford suffered irreversible brain damage during resuscitation delays

The trust consists of five hospitals and community clinics and almost 7,000 babies are born there each year.

A DHSC spokesman said: "The trust is undertaking extensive work on their maternity unit with the support of NHS England and NHS Improvement.

"The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch is examining 26 individual maternity cases at the trust and the Care Quality Commission carried out an unplanned inspection last week.

"Both organisations will report within two weeks, at which point the options for further action will be assessed."

Harry Richford suffered brain damage during his birth.

His parents described the situation in the delivery room as "panicked", as a doctor spent 26 minutes struggling to insert a life support tube down his throat.

He died a week later, and a coroner recorded a narrative verdict, saying his death was "contributed to by neglect".

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