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Damning revelations about care of women in labour at Queen’s Hospital

PUBLISHED: 18:00 11 September 2011

Queen's Hospital

Queen's Hospital

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A series of damning revelations about the care of women in labour – including those who had a stillbirth allegedly put on a ward with new mothers – has “dismayed” the leader of a Redbridge group seeking answers from health chiefs.

Cathy Turland, manager of the Redbridge Local Improvement Network (LINk), a health and social care group, has put together a 26-page report detailing the experiences of women at King George Hospital, Barley Lane, Goodmayes, and Queen’s Hospital, Romford.

It comes as health watchdog the Care Quality Commission continues its full investigation into Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT). About 45 women attended three meetings organised by Redbridge LINk, with the aim of getting to the bottom of negative stories about Queen’s Hospital’s maternity unit, which has seen five women die in the past two years.

Speaking of the report Mrs Turland said: “I was surprised and dismayed by the stories we heard.

“Everyone keeps being told how services will improve. But there doesn’t seem to be any real sign of it.”

The vast majority – about 95 per cent – of accounts included in the LINk’s report are of incidents at Queen’s.

They include:

■ Patients who had stillbirths allegedly put on a ward with new mothers and babies.

■ A “general feeling that there was a lack of staff and their response was slow and negligent”.

■ Women “being forced to remain longer in triage because emergencies were taking up rooms”.

■ Poor pain relief administered by staff.

■ A negative attitude of some staff, with one woman claiming a midwife made her feel like “I was a bit of an inconvenience”.

One woman who gave birth to a still born baby at Queen’s claimed she was “disturbed at regular intervals throughout the night by a midwife” who on one occasion said, “I’m here to take the baby to the fridge”.

Representatives from BHRUT have been invited to a public meeting on Wednesday aimed at giving people a chance to get answers from the trust.

It is being held from 9.30am to 1.30pm in Ripple Centre, Ripple Road, Barking.

Hospital bosses have defended maternity services following Redbridge LINK’s report.

Director of nursing Deborah Wheeler said: “Enormous work has taken place in recent months to improve our maternity services and the care that women receive.

“Much of this report relates to the period before that, and doesn’t reflect the positive feedback we’ve had from women who have experienced the changes we have already made.

“The Havering LINk recently visited the maternity department at Queen’s and saw for themselves the improvements that have been made, but this has not been included in the report.”

Seven weeks have passed since the secretary of state for health Andrew Lansley was asked to decide on the future of services at King George Hospital, and no ruling has yet been made.

Proposed changes at the hospital in Barley Lane, Goodmayes include the closure of its A&E and its labour ward, with the majority of births being moved to Queen’s Hospital, Romford.

For more on the proposed changes at King George log on to www.healthfornel.nhs.uk.


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