Redbridge health trust’s maternity unit under “intense scrutiny” as it tries to improve

�A maternity unit blasted for a catalogue of failings is under “intense scrutiny” by a health watchdog, as it begins to show it is taking heed of the criticism.

A maternity unit blasted for a catalogue of failings is under “intense scrutiny” by a health watchdog, as it begins to show it is taking heed of the criticism.

The maternity ward at Queen’s Hospital, Romford, will be subject to a series of unannounced visits by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), as it rules on whether it has turned around its performance in a number of highlighted areas.

The health watchdog has already found improvements in the safety, availability and suitability of equipment and staffing levels at the maternity unit, with more midwives now in place.

The health trust was given until March 31 to improve in six key areas of concern.


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CQC inspectors, who made a brief visit to the hospital earlier this month, will make more visits in the coming weeks before it can give the unit a clean bill of health.

The unit will take the bulk of Redbridge births in the future if health bosses get their way and close King George Hospital’s labour ward, a plan which is currently under review.

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In a full report published by the CQC last week, which picks apart an inspection of the ward in January, a number of concerns are highlighted, including:

• Care and welfare of people: delays in patients being transferred to the labour ward and going to theatre, and not receiving sufficient pain relief.

• Supporting workers: not all staff attending relevant training sessions, with the ratio of supervisors to midwives higher than recommended.

• Records: Patient records not always stored securely, with inspectors finding notes “randomly” left on the counter inside a treatment room on the postnatal ward.

CQC regional director for London Colin Hough said: “This trust will continue to be under intense scrutiny until we are sure that they have taken all necessary steps to ensure that all women and babies using their maternity services receive safe care.

“If we are not satisfied that they have done so, we have a range of enforcement powers available which include prosecution, restriction of services or closure.”

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust had until Wednesday to tell the CQC how it planned to address the areas of concern.

Averil Dongworth, of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “In this final report, the regulators have reduced the level of their concern about our equipment, following our feedback. They have also acknowledged evidence that improvements have been made.

“The trust has made significant improvements to maternity services since January, with a new reception system in place for women in labour and more than 50 extra midwives recruited.

“However, the trust is not at all complacent about the need to improve the quality of care and experience of every woman using our maternity service.”

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