Queen’s putting mums and tots at risk say inspectors

Mums and babies are “at risk” in Queen’s Hospital maternity unit due to a litany of problems – including staff shortages - health inspectors found.

Bosses have now been ordered to sort out problems or face serious action.

The unit, one of the largest in the country, was often understaffed and some midwives were carrying procedures they were not trained to do, inspectors said.

They also found the hospital, run by Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust, was not following some of its own safety guidelines, including the timely transfer of women from antenatal ward to labour wards.

Some equipment necessary for the safety of mums and infants – including machines for monitoring contractions - was found to be unavailable, poorly maintained or not working. Bosses have until April 15 to address all issues or face possible prosecution or restriction of services.

Chief Executive Averil Dongworth admitted the hospital had “not always got it right” in the unit.

“We accept the CQC’s report,” she said, “and will be using it to drive forward the changes that are already taking place.

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“There has been substantial investment in maternity services at the trust and a huge improvement in the number of specialist staff, including consultants.”

The Recorder recently reported that young mum Frances Randall gave birth in a waiting room in the hospital without medical help because of a shortage of beds and staff.

Dagenham and Rainham MP, Jon Cruddas, who is fighting for improvement at the hospital called for an “urgent review” of the hospital.

He said: “Nothing is more important to an expectant family that they can rely on the maternity service when they most need it and this report demonstrates we must raise our game significantly.”

He praised Ms Dongworth for the steps being taken for improvement.

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