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Tuesday, 7 May, 2002, 14:06 GMT 15:06 UK
'We failed' says baby snatch hospital
Wordsley Hospital, Stourbridge
CCTV cameras were not working
The chief executive of the Midland hospital where a two-day old baby was snatched has admitted that security equipment was not working when the infant was taken.

At a news conference, Paul Farenden - chief executive of the Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS Trust - said that CCTV cameras were faulty and vital procedures were not followed.

Mr Farenden has confirmed that a full review of safety measures at Wordsley Hospital is underway and that extra guards have already been brought in to the maternity ward.

The baby, named Elizabeth Rice, was missing for around seven hours on Monday before a tip-off from a member of the public led to its safe return and the arrest of four people.

Richard Rice
The hospital apologised to Richard Rice and his wife
Mr Farenden said: "It's difficult for us to understand how this happened.

"We have a system of intercoms and buzzers and the room where the baby was taken from is directly opposite a nurse station.

"The security system has failed and we have let this couple and baby down. That is why we must have a review."

Mr Farenden was pressed on the use of CCTV cameras and said: "It's right to say that the equipment was not working properly and will be replaced by the end of the week.

"But CCTV is not part of the access control system and wouldn't have been any use until after the baby had been taken."

The system linking the cameras to recording equipment was faulty, Mr Farenden said, meaning that nothing of any use to investigating officers was recorded.

Paul Farenden - Chief executive of the Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS Trust
Paul Farenden will fully review security
The hospital is due to introduce electronic tagging for babies before the end of this week.

In the meantime, a major review of what went wrong on Monday has already begun.

Mr Farenden said: "The trust is clearly disappointed at the loss of a baby in its care and we are undertaking a thorough review of practices, protocols and procedures.

"We already have a permanent added security presence involving more than one guard."

Balancing act

He also said that the hospital has apologised to the parents of the baby, Richard and Deanne Rice, for the failures in its system.

Yvonne O'Connor, head of midwifery at Wordsley, told reporters that added security could mean inconvenience for new mothers and their families.

"What we are looking at here is a maternity unit and not a prison.

We have to balance security with what families actually require and visiting may not be as free as it is now."

The BBC's Andrew Burroughs
"The Dudley Group have promised an urgent review and upgrade of systems"
The BBC's Fergus Walsh
"Sophisticated detection devices aren't necessarily the answer"
The BBC's Sarah Sturdey
"I've walked straight through"
See also:

07 May 02 | Health
Q&A: Maternity security
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