Scandal-hit NHS trust pleads GUILTY to failures over death of 7-day-old Harry Richford in first case of its kind

A SCANDAL-HIT NHS trust has today pleaded guilty to failures over the death of a seven-day-old boy.

East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust admitted failing to provide safe care and treatment for Harry Richford and his mum Sarah.

An inquest found that Harry's death at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate in November 2017 was "wholly avoidable".

The trust had been charged under the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations, Folkestone Magistrates' Court in Kent heard.

Care for mothers and newborn babies at the trust has been heavily criticised following a series of baby deaths.

The first-of-its-kind prosecution comes after Harry's parents Tom and Sarah Richford spent years fighting for answers and campaigning for better maternity safety.

Last year, the Care Quality Commission had claimed Harry and Sarah were exposed to “significant risk of avoidable harm”.

Speaking at the time, Sarah welcomed the charges and added: "It’s monumental.

"We wanted people to be held accountable for what happened and for some justification.

“I now feel like we have got answers from the inquest and I feel like we are being heard — and that Harry didn’t die for no reason.”

Dad Tom added: “Harry lived for only seven days but, ultimately, we wanted those seven days to make a difference on the world.”

Dr Bill Kirkup, who investigated serious maternity failings in Morecambe Bay in 2015, led the independent review into East Kent Hospitals.

Susan Acott, the trust's boss, said: “We are deeply sorry and apologise unreservedly for our failure to provide safe care, resulting in the death of Harry.

“We recognise the mistakes and that Harry’s family was not given the support and answers they needed at the time.”

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