Watchdog slams “disrespectful” midwives and staff shortages at Royal London Hospital

Royal London Hospital, in Whitechapel. Pic: Press Association.

Royal London Hospital, in Whitechapel. Pic: Press Association. - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Ima

Staff shortages and “disrespectful” midwives have been criticised in a health watchdog’s damning report into care for maternity patients and pensioners at the Royal London Hospital.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) said steps to improve care must be taken in five out of the seven standards it rated in June’s inspections.

It said elderly patients were being left at risk as stretched staff “struggled to maintain basic care”.

The Royal London is run by Britain’s biggest NHS trust, Barts Health, which is preparing to axe a “significant” number of nurses in six east London hospitals as it battles financial troubles.

“Patients did not always receive appropriate care and treatment,” the report found.

“We also found that discharge systems were not always safe. Patients were therefore at risk of being discharged without appropriate support systems in place.

“Staff told us that because of shortage of staff they struggled to maintain basic care standards.”

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Inspectors found that while patients in the maternity unit were “mostly” given care which met their needs, mothers “were not always treated with dignity and respect and their privacy was not always observed”.

“There were not enough qualified, skilled and experienced staff to meet mothers’ and their babies’ needs,” the inspections revealed.

“We also saw two student midwives talking about their experiences the night before using disrespectful terms, such as ‘I hope bed six isn’t still here’ and ‘bed nine was terrible last night.’”

Mother-of-one Katherine MacGregor, of Tarling Street in Shadwell, claims to have been called a “wimp” by midwives at the hospital when she was in labour in April.

“The care we received (...) was appalling, and it makes me sick to think that I surely wasn’t the only woman they treat like this,” she added.

Last month, Barts voluntarily placed itself in “financial turnaround” after it emerged it was £15million behind in cost cutting plans.

A spokesman said: “We are extremely sorry for the failings the CQC identified at The Royal London. Since the time of this inspection a number of specific measures have been put in place to address the issues highlighted in the report.

“We will be working closely with the CQC inspectors when they return for their in-depth inspection of the Trust later this year.”