NHS trust warned over filthy maternity wards and uncaring staff

NHS trust warned over filthy maternity wards and uncaring staff

Regulators said the behaviour of staff was “unacceptable” and “uncaring” while conditions were unhygienic, with sluice pipes having leaked into the labour wards, and dust on resuscitation equipment for babies. Offensive waste was overflowing from bins, trolleys were covered in blood, and staff did not wash their hands enough, putting babies, mothers and visitors at risk of infection.

Whipps Cross University Hospital in Leytonstone, east London has been ordered to make “urgent improvements” after failing to meet 10 of 16 essential hospital standards, inspectors said. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) report said some babies ended up being admitted to intensive care because of failings by midwives during labour.

Staff did not wash their hands enough, putting "On the labour ward, there were stainless steel bowls on stands in some delivery rooms. We saw a blood-stained bowl in a delivery room which was described as a room ready for use. We found another room, that a midwife had said was ready for use, had stains on the disposable curtains," the report said. On the labour wards, the theatre sluice pipe had previously leaked onto the floor. "We saw visible dried stains on that sluice pipe and floor," said inspectors, who visited unannounced in May and June.

"In the neonatal resuscitation trolley room on the labour ward, we found that there was a high level of dust on top of the resuscitation equipment." Rooms, trolleys, theatres sluices and communal bays were filthy. "We saw that there was dust behind the furniture in the rooms, blood stains on the disposable curtains and bodily fluid stains on the wall near the beds. We saw in some rooms that offensive waste was overflowing from the bin." The report describes uncaring behaviour by midwives at the hospital, run by Barts Health NHS Trust.

"We saw a woman in a blood-stained gown and bed. About 10 minutes later we saw the same woman crying in the corridor. The midwife on duty asked the woman 'Why are you crying?' The woman replied 'I am in pain'. 'Pain!' the midwife repeated in a sarcastic manner. "The midwife got some medication and handed her a white pot which contained tablets without telling the woman what the tablets were.”

Resuscitation equipment for babies did not have an oxygen supply and was not checked regularly, while some equipment was not sterile, inspectors found. "We saw examples of poor care, unacceptable staff behaviour and poor infection control in maternity services," inspectors.

Inspectors also found shortages of staff on elderly care wards, where patients acquired pressure sores, and were left without proper help to eat.

"We found that patients were not always supported to eat their meals in a timely manner. One patient spent 10 minutes trying to eat their meal which had been set on a table too far away for them to reach properly. We saw a lot of the food had fallen into their lap and staff only intervened and adjusted the table when we asked them to."

"We observed that some patients were not helped to eat when they needed it and that although they were given water, it was sometimes placed out of their reach,” inspectors said. Matthew Trainer, regional director of CQC in London, said the concerns were “very serious”.

"The reports we have published today show a systematic catalogue of failings across the departments we looked at during our inspections in May and June. We found that, in places, the hospital was unsafe and dirty, and that staff didn't always show patients the compassion that people deserve."

Andrew Gwynne MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, said: “David Cameron’s mismanagement of the NHS is leaving hospitals struggling to cope. New mums at Whipps Cross face unclean wards at the same time as A&E patients queue out the door."

An investigation has been launched into Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation trust following repeated breaches of its Accident & Emergency four hour waiting target. Regulator Monitor is to examine performance at the trust.

By Laura Donnelly

The Telegraph, 14th August, 2013

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