Harry Richford – Inquest 24th January 2020
24th January 2020
First, I would like to commend the courage and quiet dignity with which my young constituents, Tom and Sarah Richford, have conducted themselves since the death of their infant son, Harry, and throughout the process since. I have been engaged in this sad case since the family approached me following their loss and it is immediately apparent that their only concern has been to seek to ensure that no other young family has to suffer as they have done. To lose a child is terrible. To know that that loss could and should have been prevented adds immeasurably to the pain.
Second, I would like to express my thanks to the barristers and solicitors who have given their services tirelessly and without charge to seek to ensure that my constituents have been fully and properly represented. Lawyers are frequently criticised but through Advocate (The Bar Pro Bono Unit) the Richford family has received superb legal support. They have not just `gone the extra mile`: they have, I am advised, run a marathon to secure the truth.
There have been many failings, both medical and administrative, in this case. The Coroner has determined that Harry`s death was avoidable and I believe that in the early stages the hospital authorities were obstructive in their efforts to prevent the facts from being established. What should have been a straightforward process therefore contributed to the family`s ordeal.
Many changes have already been made as a result of this case and more must follow. I have discussed the matter personally with the Secretary of State and Matt Hancock has assured me that there must be full transparency in further enquiries that will have to be undertaken and that every last lesson possible must be learned to prevent any repetition of this kind of tragedy and to restore full confidence in the maternity services within the East Kent hospitals trust.
We owe that to the Richford family, to future mothers using the service and to a dedicated team of staff within maternity at the QEQM who wish to provide the best possible facilities and attention to those, mothers and babies, in their care. Harry Richford`s death cannot be allowed to have been in vain.