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East Kent Hospitals: Head of baby-deaths trust to step down

image copyrightPA Media
image captionStaff at the William Harvey Hospital were found not to be taking adequate coronavirus precautions

The chair of an NHS trust charged over the death of a baby who died days after an emergency delivery is to step down.

Professor Stephen Smith is to leave the the East Kent Hospitals trust in the spring when his contract expires and will not be seeking a further term.

Harry Richford died a week after he was born at Margate's Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital (QEQM) in 2017.

The trust has also been criticised over failings to protect staff and patients from coronavirus.

Professor Smith said: "I can see that next year I will need to devote significantly more time each month on my work in the Middle East.

"I would not be serving the trust, its staff, its patients or our local communities properly if I could not give this job the total focus it requires."

image copyrightFamily handout
image captionHarry Richford died seven days after an emergency delivery at the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate

Earlier this month the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said the trust had been charged with exposing baby Harry Richford and his mother Sarah Richford to significant risk of avoidable harm.

The trust apologised "unreservedly" to the family over its failings. An inquest earlier this year ruled Harry's death was "contributed to by neglect".

Following the inquest, the independent Kirkup review of maternity services at the trust began its investigations. At the time, Susan Acott, chief executive of the NHS trust, told a board meeting there had been 15 baby deaths that could possibly have been preventable.

CQC inspectors demanded improvements at the trust's William Harvey Hospital in Ashford after a report highlighted a number of failings over Covid-19 precautions.

Staff were seen to be wearing masks incorrectly, not using hand sanitiser and not adhering to social distancing. the CQC reported.

Professor Smith said: "Over the past two and a half years we have faced some major challenges.

"The coronavirus pandemic has been the biggest health challenge of my life time and I believe that here, as elsewhere, the NHS has risen to this challenge with staff commitment and dedication that goes far beyond the call of duty."

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Related Topics

  • Ramsgate
  • NHS
  • Ashford
  • Margate

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  • Harry Richford: East Kent NHS Trust charged over baby's death