‘Call the midwife’ as Royal London Hospital recruits more maternity staff over security issues

Consultant midwife Mary Olusile

Consultant midwife Mary Olusile - Credit: Archant

More midwives are being recruited at the Royal London Hospital as it battles to cope with the East End’s rising birthrate and fears over security at its maternity unit.

It follows an inspection by the Care Quality Commission which found the security system in Whitechapel was “not robust” and had poor compliance to wearing baby name-bands.

So Bart’s NHS trust is taking on 10 more midwives and has tightened security after fears last year of a risk of babies being given back to the wrong mothers.

A new clinical lead, maternity matron and general manager now oversee the day-to-day running of maternity services, while nursing and midwifery director Lucie Butler has assumed a more hands-on role.

“Inspectors rightly said we needed to strengthen security,” she said. “We’ve been able to act quickly to recruit more staff and have now got a real focus providing care.”

Barts Health NHS Trust which runs the hospital has told the East London Advertiser it is “building on steps to strengthen maternity unit security after the inspection”. Additional swipe-card access has been added to doors in the unit.

The Advertiser was given exclusive access to the baby unit in December, following the damning report.

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We found new security tagging has been introduced and visitors having to be escorted through two security doors that can only be opened by selected staff with special swipe cards then register at the reception desk.

The upgraded tagging now carries electronic codes identifying each baby with its mother on a computer security register.

Consultant midwife Mary Olusile revealed: “The Care Commission found some babies didn’t have identity tags which were left in the cots—parents had taken them off because they were rigid and might cause sores.”

The hospital has since switched to a less rigid tag which stays on the baby firmer.

Staffing on maternity wards was sometimes inadequately covered with “a lack of a safe and secure environment for newborns”, the Care Commission found.

An action plan on measures Barts Health Trust has since taken to “remedy the regulation breaches” identified by inspectors was agreed at the trust’s board meeting on March 1 and is now being reviewed by the Care Quality Commission.

Security is being tightened at all London hospitals in the wake of an incident last week when police arrested a couple following a report of an “attempted abduction” at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital.

The couple showed a picture of a premature baby in an incubator which they said was theirs—but Scotland Yard said the information given to staff did not match hospital records and police were subsequently called.