‘I am determined to turn things around’ – health chief executive responsible for Queens Hospital

The chief executive of the health trust heavily criticised for how one of its maternity units is run has said she is determined to turn things around.

Averil Dongworth – who last month took her post as head of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust – has written to health bosses and MPs in the area outlining her strategy after failings were highlighted at the maternity unit at Queen’s Hospital, Romford.

The Care Quality Commission – an independent regulator of health and adult social care in England – has said mums and babies are being put “at risk” by under-staffing and staff carrying out tasks they do not feel fully skilled for.

In her letter, seen by the Recorder, she said: “On staffing, the trust has worked to increase staffing levels, both to keep pace with the rising birth rate and to improve our ratio of staff to births.

“Over the last two years, we have funded an extra 70 midwife posts.

“Recruitment to these posts has proved challenging from the local area, and we have mounted recruitment campaigns for high quality midwives from further afield, including from Ireland.

“We are currently working to fill 49 vacancies, with 14 new midwives due to start in coming weeks, and job offers made to a further 25 midwives this week alone.”

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A new triage area is also set to open this month, she said, “so that women arriving in the maternity department will be seen immediately by an experienced senior midwife and sent straight to the most appropriate ward.”

She added: “I am confident that the improvements being made will see us fully complying with national requirements, and I will ensure that changes are brought about quickly and safely.”

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