A hospital in Romford has been told it must make improvements to its maternity services following an unannounced inspection.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspected Queen's Hospital - which is part of the Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT) - maternity services in June this year.

This follows concerns raised about the safety and quality of its maternity services, including how it is organised and the culture of the department.

As a result of the inspection, Queen's Hospital's rating dropped from good to requires improvement.

Broken down, that is requires improvement in the safe and well-led categories, which is where the inspection was focused.

The caring, effective and responsive questions - all rated good - were not considered in the inspection.

Chief executive at BHRUT, Matthew Trainer, said: “We are sorry that our maternity services have fallen short of the high standards that women and families should expect from Queen’s Hospital.”

He added the “safety of mothers and their children” is a “top priority” and they are “working hard” to ensure women can continue to give birth at Queen’s with “confidence”.

The report did point out positives, such as staff responding quickly to emergencies and communicating well with other services.

CQC’s deputy chief inspector for hospitals, Nigel Acheson, said there were concerns about a “negative impact the culture in the department was having on staff” and how that could impact the quality of service provided.

Mr Acheson said the trust had not learned from incidents “in order to improve in future care”.

He said departments had “unclear processes” to keep track of sharing information around incidents, meaning some were repeated, and staff did not always “feel able to speak about concerns” or know what action was taken after raising issues.

Employees did not feel supported or listened to by senior leaders and the culture in the department included "bullying", the CQC report alleged.

However, Mr Acheson said the trust has started to take action to address this.

Mr Trainer said: "We are already making a range of improvements within the service, including new coaching sessions for consultants, appointing a new obstetric clinical lead and a second head of midwifery to oversee good governance, to create a better working environment for our staff and ensure that women and babies are afforded the best possible care.”

CQC expects to see “sustainable improvements” on the next inspection, it said.