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Family hit a 'brick wall' seeking justice for baby

The grandfather of a baby who died at a hospital that was fined over failings in the delivery has spoken of his five-year fight for justice.

Derek Richford was speaking as an independent report into baby deaths at the East Kent Hospitals Trust will be released this week.

He said he "came up against a brick wall" while searching for answers over the death of grandson Harry Richford.

An inquest into Harry's death at Margate's Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in 2017 found it was wholly avoidable and contributed to by neglect.

Coroner Christopher Sutton-Mattocks said the inquest, which was finally held in 2020, was only ordered due to the family's persistence.

The following year the trust was fined £733,000 after admitting failing to provide safe care and treatment for mother Sarah Richford and her son following a prosecution by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Mr Richford said: "To start with we felt fairly alone and we felt like we were coming up against a brick wall.

"The trust were refusing at that time to call the coroner. They were reporting Harry's death as 'expected'.

"We didn't contact anyone other than the CQC just to say 'look there's been a problem here'."

He said at a meeting with the trust, more than five months later, "we suddenly realised that there were a huge [number] of errors".

Mr Richford told the BBC: "It took me about a year to come up with all the detail I needed and to speak to all the right people."

He said the family then spoke to the Health Safety Investigation Branch who found there were issues.

Mr Richford also tracked down a "damming" report by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG).

"In the end it was like peeling back the layers of an onion, and the more you took off, the more you found," he said.

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Source: BBC News, 18 October 2022


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