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Maternity unit at Royal London Hospital is no longer ‘inadequate’ but ‘requires improvement’

PUBLISHED: 07:00 13 October 2017 | UPDATED: 12:33 13 October 2017

Royal London Hospital is in Whitechapel. Pic credit: Mike Brooke

Royal London Hospital is in Whitechapel. Pic credit: Mike Brooke

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A maternity unit where concerns were raised that babies could be given back to the wrong mother after birth still has security issues despite new measures being introduced.

An inspection report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) into the unit at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, showed while physical security had been tightened visitors were occasionally able to gain unauthorised access to delivery suites.

The report, published today, recognised the unit had also introduced swipe card access and increased receptionist cover but unauthorised access to the delivery suites still managed to take place.

The unit, which delivers around 5,000 babies a year, had previously been given an adequate rating in 2015 but following an unannounced inspection in June this year this has now been upgraded to ‘requires improvement’.

Inspectors praised the clinical areas they visited for being visibly clean and well maintained, with display boards detailing cleanliness and safety information, and staff morale had improved since 2015.

The report noted that mothers felt supported in making decisions about where to have their baby and that the new Lotus birthing centre provided them with continuity of care.

However the unit was criticised for its shortage of clinical midwives despite increasing the number of midwives on wards during the day and at night.

The report also included claims there was a culture of bullying and harassment amongst midwives, and inconsistencies in the way some data was collected and reported led to it being inaccurate and unreliable.

Professor Ted Baker, England’s chief inspector of hospitals, said: “There has been some improvement in maternity services at The Royal London, with one example of outstanding practice, which is encouraging.

“However, there are still improvements that can be made in the care provided to women in the maternity department and CQC will inspect again to ensure these improvements are carried out.”

Alwen Williams, chief executive of Barts Health NHS Trust, which manages the Royal London, said: “This improved rating is good news for our staff, local women, their partners and families.

“We know there is still much to do and we are all determined to build on these improvements to make the service even better for our patients and staff.”

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