Published: 11:00, 09 October 2020
| Updated: 12:02, 09 October 2020
East Kent Hospitals Trust is being criminally prosecuted over the death of a baby boy in what is believed to be the first case of its kind.
The Care Quality Commission announced today the trust is charged with exposing Harry Richford and his mother Sarah to significant risk of avoidable harm at the QEQM hospital in Margate .
Baby Harry tragically died aged just seven days old after a traumatic birth on November 2, 2017.
The CQC started a formal criminal investigation in October 2019 and a spokesman confirmed today the watchdog will be prosecuting.
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.
In a statement, the Richford family welcomed the landmark decision.
"It will now be for the courts to hear all of the evidence that the CQC and our family have amassed over the last three years and to decide whether the clinical care and treatment offered at that time could be considered safe; or whether there was a criminal breach of the duty of care that was clearly owed to both Sarah and Harry at their most vulnerable time," they said.
"Our family have been in the spotlight for nearly three years; now is our time to pass the responsibility of finding the truth and ensuring lasting change in East Kent to the CQC, the Courts, Bill Kirkup and indeed the government."
The CQC says it is unable to comment further on the decision to prosecute.
East Kent Hospitals Trust chief Executive Susan Acott said: “We are deeply sorry and apologise unreservedly for our failure to provide safe care and treatment resulting in the death of baby Harry in November 2017.
“Mr and Mrs Richford’s expectation was that they would welcome a healthy baby into their family. We are deeply sorry that we failed in our role to help them do that and for the devastating loss of baby Harry.
“We recognise the mistakes in both Harry’s delivery and subsequent resuscitation and that Harry’s family was not given the support and answers they needed at the time. We deeply regret the extra pain that this caused them.
“The Trust has admitted to the CQC that it failed to provide safe care and treatment for which we are profoundly sorry.”