Harry Richford: Police drop probe into East Kent NHS Trust after baby death

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Harry RichfordImage source, Family handout
Image caption,
Harry Richford died a week after he was born at Margate's Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in 2017

A criminal investigation into an NHS trust which was fined over the death of a baby boy following an emergency delivery has been dropped by police.

East Kent Hospitals was fined £733,000 for failures in the case of Harry Richford after an inquest found his death in 2017 was "wholly avoidable".

Kent Police has not said what offences or which individuals were being assessed for subsequent investigation.

However, the force has said a further investigation is unlikely.

Harry was born in a hospital in Margate in an emergency delivery. He was transferred to the intensive neonatal unit at William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, but later died.

After an inquest heard Harry was born not crying, pale, and with no movement, in an operating room "full of panicking people", coroner Christopher Sutton-Mattocks found his death was contributed to by neglect.

The Crown Prosecution Service went on to consider potential criminal charges after an initial prosecution by the Care Quality Commission in the summer.

Image caption,
An independent review was announced after a series of failings at the trust came to light

Det Ch Supt Paul Fotheringham, head of major crime at Kent Police, said: "Since August 2020, Kent Police has been carrying out an assessment of information received in relation to the standard of maternity care provided at a hospital in east Kent.

"After careful consideration and following consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service, we took the decision that a criminal investigation would not be undertaken at this time as there is no realistic prospect of conviction against any individual or organisation based on the evidence currently available.

"Any further information received at any time in the future will be assessed as appropriate."

After it emerged the NHS trust may have had up to 15 preventable baby deaths, an independent review led by Dr Bill Kirkup was announced.

The investigation is looking at nearly 200 births at the trust and is not due to report until late in 2022.

Harry's parents, Sarah and Tom Richford, have been approached for comment.

The NHS trust has declined to comment.

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