Campaigners say woman who drove from Queen’s to King George to give birth proves Romford hospital ‘can’t cope’
09:39 22 March 2013
A woman in labour rushed to King George Hospital’s maternity unit on the day it was due to close because she and her boyfriend believed there was no space for them at Queen’s.
Just hours into the first week of controversial new maternity arrangements that saw the Goodmayes labour ward shut its doors, Leva Zemaityte and her boyfriend drove four miles from Romford so she could give birth there.
The reason? She’d been left in a corridor at Queen’s for 40 agonising minutes.
Campaigners believe her case proves the Romford labour unit can’t cope with demand – and say it vindicates their opposition to the closure of King George’s maternity ward.
Boyfriend Daunys Donatas, 26, said: “There was no space for us and we were in the corridor.
“The nurse said it wouldn’t be long but after 40 minutes waiting the pain was getting worse and worse and I told them we were leaving.”
Mr Donatas then drove his girlfriend straight to King George Hospital, where he works as a porter, and she gave birth at 2.19am on Monday.
Barking, Havering and Redbridge NHS Trust said Queen’s was not over capacity at the time, but apologised for the delay.
And it admitted the target time for “triaging” women – assessing them to find out what care they need – was 15 minutes.
The couple now have a healthy baby boy, Dovydas, who was born at 8lb 2oz. For them, elation at becoming parents has eclipsed the trauma of their son’s birth.
But Mr Donatas is concerned for future couples who will not have the option of going to King George.
Mr Donatas said: “If they hadn’t got space then, what’s going to happen now?
“Will they go to Whipps Cross or further away?”
A BHRUT spokesman said the delay was caused by the arrival of a number of other women in labour “who needed more care in the triage assessment area”.
BHRUT and NHS North East London and the City (Nelc) rubber-stamped the decision to stop births at King George earlier this month, despite objections from local residents, councillors, MPs and campaign groups.
Among those who opposed the reorganisation of maternity services in the region was Rainham MP Jon Cruddas.
Before the decision was made, he wrote on his website: “Queen’s Hospital is not in a position to be taking on the workload of another maternity service.
“If further service closures take place at King George Hospital it will no longer be able to fully facilitate the needs of local residents and so even more pressure will be pushed on to Queen’s.
“The doctors and nurses I meet do not support this decision. The local residents I speak to do not support this decision. I do not support this decision.”
This week he told the Romford Recorder that Ms Zemaityte’s case only served to prove his point.
“Incidents like this should not be happening,” he said. “I think this highlights exactly why we need to keep maternity services at King George Hospital up and running – maternity at Queen’s is severely overstretched.”
Med Buck, chairman of health watchdog Havering LINk, added: “This incident shows we were right to be concerned about the decision to stop births at King George maternity.
“Closing King George maternity was highly risky. We remain very concerned about lack of choice, the quality of care and safety of our residents.”