NHS Hospital to be charged over death of seven-day-old baby boy

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An NHS Hospital will be charged over the death of a newborn baby in 2017.

East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust is being prosecuted over the death in its care of seven-day old Harry Richford in 2017, the Care Quality Commission said on Friday.

In January a coroner ruled the baby's death following an emergency delivery was "wholly avoidable".

Harry was born at Margate's Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital (QEQM) in November 2017.

Coroner Christopher Sutton-Mattocks was told Harry was born not crying, pale, and with no movement in an operating room "full of panicking people".

He found the baby's death a week later was "contributed to by neglect".

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Mum Sarah Richford was given a drug to speed up labour on November 1, and in the early hours of the following morning concerns were raised about Harry's heartbeat.

Three midwives and a senior doctor recalled that it kept dropping and there were concerns over the baby's position before he was born.

At 02:05am it was decided the baby needed to be delivered immediately, however it was not until an hour later that locum registrar Dr Christos Spyroulis began to do so with forceps.

Harry was born by emergency Caesarean at 03:32am, "to all intents and purposes lifeless", the coroner said.

It took 28 minutes to resuscitate him, by which time the baby had suffered irreversible brain damage.

Obstetrics expert Myles Taylor had told the inquest "but for a failure to deliver at 2am" Harry would have been born in good condition and likely would have survived.

Mr Sutton-Mattocks reached a conclusion that Harrys' death was "contributed to by neglect".

"I do not conclude the failures were so large and so atrocious as to fall within the definition of unlawful killing," he said.

But he said there were failures by a number of people in the hospital, some of whom lacked the experience for the positions they were in.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) began a formal criminal investigation in October 2019, and a spokesman confirmed today the watchdog will be prosecuting East Kent Hospitals Trust in what's believed to be the first case of its kind.

The trust is charged with exposing Harry Richford and his mother Sarah to significant risk of avoidable harm at the QEQM hospital in Margate.

The charge is being brought under Regulation 12 of the Health and Social Care Act, and is thought to be the first prosecution of its kind to relate directly to clinical care.

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