Romford Queen's Hospital maternity unit 'must improve'

Inspectors criticised the staffing arrangements and broken equipment in the maternity unit in Romford

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A maternity unit in east London is often understaffed and puts patients at risk by using broken or missing equipment, inspectors have said.

Queen's Hospital in Romford did not follow some of its own guidelines, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said.

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust was told standards must increase by 30 March and equipment must be better by 15 April.

The trust said it was "already working to improve the service".

"The experience that women have during labour, and the care they receive, is extremely important, and in the past we have not always got that right," said Averil Dongworth, chief executive of the trust.

"We accept the CQC's report, and will be using it to drive forward the changes that are already taking place."

Midwives recruited

Last week, new mother Frances Randall said her son was delivered with the help of a stranger and fell on to the floor when he was born, owing to a lack of staff.

The hospital apologised for the incident and its head of midwifery, Sue Lovell, said a new triage system was being put in place.

Queen's Hospital in Romford The hospital said it had "not always" provided the best care but was working to improve its standards

Inspectors said some of the unit's employees felt out of their depth when performing tasks.

Targets for transferring women from the antenatal ward to the labour ward were also being missed, they added.

Some equipment - such as machines for checking contractions - had been unavailable, or was in poor condition or broken, the CQC said.

Inspections took place on two days in February and a full report will be issued later this month.

Mrs Dongworth said about 25 extra midwives had been recruited by the trust over the past week and there was funding to employ the same number again.

Services were being resdesigned and changes would be made "quickly and safely", she added.

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