Basildon University Hospital maternity unit, once rated ‘outstanding’, has been rated ‘inadequate’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
The CQC launched an investigation into the unit after concerns were raised by an anonymous whistle-blower about patient treatment and general safety at the unit.
We know how bad it can be for anyone that has been the victim of medical negligence, but this is a different kind of story entirely. When it comes to something as serious as this, no legal case or punishment issued could ever turn back the clock and undo the damage that has been done.
Basildon University Hospital maternity unit
The Basildon University Hospital maternity unit was found to have ‘failings’ in six cases that have been described as serious by the CQC.
The hospital has been heavily criticised since the deaths of a baby in 2018, and 36-year-old Gabriela Pintilie who died in February 2019 within hours of giving birth. The Care Quality Commission said that the hospital had not learnt its lessons from inspections last year after the death of the young mother, and now serious measures need to be introduced.
Professor Ted Baker, CQC chief inspector of hospitals, said:
“We have issued a warning notice requiring the trust to make urgent improvements to ensure mothers and babies are safe.”
Inadequate care found in the maternity unit
The CQC’s first investigation into the Basildon University Hospital maternity unit, found the following issues, according to the BBC:
- High-risk women giving birth in a low-risk area;
- Not enough staff with the right skills and experience;
- “Dysfunctional” working between midwives, doctors and consultants, which had an impact on the “increased number of safety incidents reported”;
- Concerns over foetal heart monitoring;
- Women being referred to by room numbers instead of their names;
- A “lack of response by consultants to emergencies” resulting in delays.
Upon their return, investigations into the Basildon University Hospital maternity unit pulled up similar issues that indicate that, even after warnings to improve, the maternity unit has not improved at all.
The BBC said that the CQC found the following;
- Only four shifts throughout the month of August had safe staffing levels;
- The CQC was told 20 midwives had been recruited, yet subsequent documents submitted by the Trust did not support this;
- Incidents affecting patient safety were inappropriately categorised, including one in which a woman who lost more than a litre of blood was graded “no harm”;
- Babies were transferred to intensive care, yet graded as “low” or “no harm”;
- Required safety meetings during shift handovers did not take place.
Maternity unit handed ‘urgent’ safety deadline
According to a letter seen by BBC News, the CQC informed the Mid and South Essex NHS Trust who runs the Basildon University Hospital that they had until 9th November to ‘implement appropriate measures’ to combat issues that had previously been highlighted. Should they fail to do so, the CQC has the authority to temporarily shut health services and may do so in this case.
The Trust said it had a ‘robust improvement plan in place’ to address these issues.
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