Last baby born at King George Hospital because ‘no space at over-capacity’ Queen’s

Mum Leva Zemaityte and Daunys Donatas, from Romford, with their first baby, Dovydas

Mum Leva Zemaityte and Daunys Donatas, from Romford, with their first baby, Dovydas - Credit: Archant

King George Hospital’s last baby was only born in the empty labour ward because the parents believed Queen’s Hospital was too full to handle the delivery on Sunday night, it has emerged.

Leva Zemaityte, 21, was forced to wait in a corridor of the Romford hospital, according to boyfriend Daunys Donatas.

He 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, 26, then drove his girlfriend straight to King George Hospital, where he works as a porter, where she gave birth at 2.19am yesterday.

The couple, of Collier Row, now have a healthy baby boy Dovydas, who was born at 8lb 2oz.

Their elation at their first child has now taken over the trauma of his birth.

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Mr Donatas said: “We are so happy, the birth went well.”

But the couple are concerned for future parents who will not have the option of King George.

Mr Donatas said: “I think it’s a worry because if they hadn’t got place then, what’s going to happen now?

“Will they go to Whipps Cross or further away?

“It’s not good and I don’t agree with it.”

A Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (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”.

All women arriving at the labour ward are “triaged” to see what care they need but in future low-risk patients will be able to go straight to the new Queen’s Birth Centre.

The target time for triage is 15 mminutes, BHRUT apologised for the delay.

A spokesman added: “There was no shortage of delivery beds or staffing in the labour ward or on the Queen’s Birth Centre, with eight delivery rooms free.”

Boards of health trusts BHRUT and NHS North East London and the City (NELC) rubber stamped the decision to stop births at King George earlier this month following a “readiness” report, despite objections from local residents, councillors, MPs and campaign groups.

Speaking before the final decision at a NELC board meeting on March 7, Redbridge clinical director Dr Sarah Hayes said capacity and quality concerns had been addressed at Queen’s.

She revealed births at King George had been reduced accordingly from 150 in October to just 48 in February.

Helen Brown, director of transitional change, said the decision to close the labour unit was approved in principle in 2010 and steadily implemented.

She added: “The decision we are having to make is not about whether to make changes but about the safety of making them.

“We need to balance the risk of making the change against not making the change, because no decision is risk-free.”

One board member pointed out that NELC’s own report mentioned “operational risks” in the transfer, which included women in labour turning up unannounced at King George.

But Wendy Matthews, director of midwifery at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust – which runs King George and Queen’s – said risks had been “ironed out” and that A&E could handle unexpected births.

Women will now give birth at surrounding hospitals, leaving antenatal clinics, scans and parenting education at King George.