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Tuesday, 6 August, 2002, 15:37 GMT 16:37 UK
'Baby snatch' hospital trust answers criticism
Elizabeth (left) and her twin sister
Elizabeth (left) was safely reunited with her parents
Baby Elizabeth Rice was snatched from her mother's bedside at the Wordsley Hospital, Stourbridge, on 6 May when she was just a day old.

More than six hours later, Elizabeth, who is a twin, was returned safely to her parents.

On Tuesday, the Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS Trust defended itself against criticisms from Elizabeth's parents, Deanne and Richard Rice, and Judge Robin Onions.

In a statement it said that a "thorough review of security" was undertaken after Elizabeth's abduction.

Tagging system

A spokeswoman said: "A review team from the Birmingham and Black Country Health Authority have been monitoring progress in implementing the actions agreed in the trust's review, and will shortly be concluding their own report."

She said work to install a baby tagging system had been completed on 15 May.


We aim to be sensitive to the needs and views of all those using our maternity unit

Paul Fahrenheit, chief executive of the trust

"The alarm is activated if the baby is taken towards an unauthorised area, and also if an unauthorised person tries to remove a tag," she said.

However, the trust refuted claims that CCTV was not working on the day of the incident.

"Although cameras were working and images were available to staff on the unit, problems with the link to the monitoring equipment at Russells Hall Hospital meant that recordings of these images were not made.

"This was resolved by the installation of on-site recording equipment at Wordsley on 7 May."

The Trust added that visitor access arrangements were now strictly enforced and access to the maternity unit was now controlled by nurses.

'Shared distress'

Paul Fahrenheit, chief executive of the trust, said: "Our thoughts have been with Mr and Mrs Rice over recent weeks, from the time of the abduction of their baby through the many reminders of the event during the court proceedings.

"I know all the staff involved shared my distress when their baby was abducted and also my relief at her speedy and safe recovery.

Kelly Oldnall
Kelly Oldnall

Mr Fahrenheit said the Trust was "working hard" to maintain increased security within the unit.

"We aim to be sensitive to the needs and views of all those using our maternity unit, and we hope that with the cooperation of patients and their visitors, we are managing to achieve a balance between safety and the family-friendly atmosphere that should prevail here," he said.

Kelly Oldnall, 18, was given a three-year rehabilitation order after pleading guilty to taking Elizabeth from the hospital.

During an earlier hearing, the court had heard Oldnall and her sister managed to walk into the hospital and onto the maternity ward unchallenged.

'Volatile relationship'

They removed baby Elizabeth from a cot she was sharing with twin sister Susannah at the foot of their mother's bed.

A member of Oldnall's family later called police, concerned that the baby she had brought home did not belong to her.

Anthonie Muller, defending, said Oldnall had been desperate for a child after having miscarried on more than one occasion.

He said the teenager was in a "volatile" relationship with 52-year-old Geoff Booth and wanted to prove she could have children.

She had told family and friends she was pregnant, he said, and wanted to "bask momentarily" in the success of bringing a baby home.


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See also:

06 Aug 02 | England
16 May 02 | England
11 May 02 | England
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