Baby’s death must lead to lasting change at NHS trust, grandfather says

The tragic death of baby Harry Richford must lead to “lasting change” and safe maternity care, Harry’s grandfather has said.

The Government announced an independent review into East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust on Thursday.

Harry died seven days after his emergency delivery in a “wholly avoidable” tragedy, contributed to by neglect, in November 2017, an inquest found.

Derek Richford, 58, also called on East Kent Hospitals chief executive Susan Acott to quit over the failings in the care of his grandson and other babies.

He told the PA news agency: “My view is her position is untenable because she has shown a complete lack of leadership.”

Mr Richford said there would have been “an excellent chance of Harry surviving” if previous incidents had been learned from.

He said: “I think it is the same as any parent or grandparent that has lost a child.

Harry Richford
Sarah and Tom Richford with their son Harry (Derek Richford/PA)

“The change you want is to stop it happening to other people.

“What I am looking for is to break the cycle, let’s get change in place that is lasting so the people of east Kent can have safe maternity care.”

The review will be carried out by Dr Bill Kirkup, who led the investigation into serious maternity failings at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.

It will look at preventable and avoidable deaths of newborns to ensure the trust learns lessons from each case and is putting in place appropriate processes to safeguard families.

The review is expected to begin shortly and work in partnership with affected families.

East Kent Hospitals pledged to work closely with those carrying out the review.

Following the announcement, a trust spokesman said: “We welcome the NHS-commissioned review and will work closely with the independent team to make improvements for families giving birth in east Kent.”

Mr Richford believes it is crucial that lessons are learned from Harry’s death, and has set up a website dedicated to him: http://harrysstory.co.uk/

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