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Security shock for newborn babies' identity at Royal London, inspectors have found

PUBLISHED: 09:13 15 December 2016 | UPDATED: 10:19 15 December 2016

The Royal London... shock report

The Royal London... shock report

Archant

Babies being born at the Royal London Hospital are at risk of being given back to the wrong parents, a shock inspection has revealed.

Royal London Hospital in WhitechapelRoyal London Hospital in Whitechapel

The security system for newborns was “not robust” and had poor compliance to wearing baby name-bands, according to a devastating report by the Quality Cared Commission out this morning.

The hospital’s ‘infant abduction’ policy had not been distributed to staff.

The policy assumed the use of an electronic tagging system which was not in use in the hospital, inspectors discovered.

“We were concerned about the standard of care around maternity and gynaecology services,” Chief Inspector Prof Sir Mike Richards said.

The Royal LondonThe Royal London

“Staffing on maternity wards was sometimes inadequately covered—but most worrying of all was the lack of a safe and secure environment for newborns.

“We raised this with the Royal London at the time of our inspection as a matter for their urgent attention.”

The country’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals has told the Royal London it must make improvements, after the Commission’s inspection took place at the Whitechapel complex in July.

The hospital “requires improvement” overall, say its inspectors. Improvements are needed in areas of safety, caring and responsive, with Maternity and gynaecology rated “inadequate”.

Royal London entrance in Stepney WayRoyal London entrance in Stepney Way

Also requiring improvement were urgent and emergency services, medical care including older people’s services, surgery, services for children and young people, end of life care and outpatients and diagnostic imaging.

The hospital is part of Barts Health NHS Trust, the largest in the country, serving an east London population of two-and-a-half million London.

Care Quality inspectors had returned to the hospital in July to follow up previous inspections in 2014 and 2015 which had identified worries around patient safety and the quality of health care.

A shortage of midwives meant that maternity wards were at times inadequately covered. There was also a low level of maternity cover by consultants.

Royal London entranceRoyal London entrance

Steps have since been taken over baby safety concerns such as new identity tags being introduced, the health trust said. Significant changes were made to NHS Trust management at an executive and local level.

A Bart’s NHS statement said: “We acted immediately to improve the security of babies at The Royal London. These reports are based on observations five months ago—since then we have subjected our procedures to forensic scrutiny.”

Nursing staff and theatre staff vacancies had an impact on morale and in some case patient care, inspectors found.

Other findings included “preventable errors” in medical care during the summer, including a surgeon leaving an object inside a patient after finishing an operation, a wrong tooth extraction and incorrect medication given to a patient.

But there were also positive findings by inspectors, such as innovation in the hospital’s trauma service and Bart’s Trust being internationally recognised as a leader in research in this field. The emergency department had introduced a ‘Code Black’ protocol for patients who had severe head injuries, the first of its kind in the country. It meant patients had care by a neurological surgeon from the first time they arrived in the department.

The “outstanding” adult critical care unit had also developed a programme of learning to ensure best practice to improve patients’ care for a frequently changing medical workforce.

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