Hospital Slammed After Mum And Newborn Die

Jason Farrell, Sky News correspondent

A maternity ward has been branded a danger to patients after the deaths of a mother and her newborn baby.

A group of new mothers are considering taking action against the maternity unit at Queen's Hospital in Romford, east London.

Sky News received claims of uncaring attitudes from staff, faulty equipment, poor management and an unwillingness to listen to complaints.

Earlier this year, two midwives were suspended after the deaths of a mother and her newborn baby.

Tebussum Ali, known as Serena, died at the maternity unit in January.

Staff failed to spot signs of her ruptured womb.

Her sister-in-law, Tebussum Rashid, told Sky News that when Serena complained about pains staff were rude and sarcastic to her.

She said: "Serena wasn't monitored. She was told to stop being a drama queen, to stop behaving like a child. The husband was told, 'What kind of father are you? Haven't you read the books?'"

When they realised there was a problem, medics could not find Serena's notes, and tried to resuscitate her with a disconnected oxygen mask.

Her husband, Usman Javed, was the first person in the room to notice it was not attached to the machine.

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust has apologised and begun an inquiry.

But mothers Sky News has spoken to say mistakes similar to those that led to Serena's death, have happened before and since.

When Saira Chaudhri went to Queen's maternity ward in July 2010 she was told she was not in labour.

It would later emerge they used a faulty machine to check her contractions. 

After pleading with staff, she says she was forced to leave.

It was only when nurses in the hospital car park spotted blood on her trousers that she was rushed back in to hospital in a wheelchair.

Saira said: "When I saw the news when Serena passed away, I was so angry. All I kept on thinking was why didn't anyone listen to what I had to say?

"Why didn't they do anything about my letter of complaint? She had the same staff members as me. She was in the same ward as me. She had the same sarcastic comments as me."

Sky News spoke to another mother Anne Marie Lloyd who says she was left alone on the labour ward for nearly two hours and when a midwife returned it was too late to administer the pain relief she requested.

Her husband went to look for help and described the ward as a ghost town.

A recent Care Quality Commission report found the Maternity unit was "very under staffed".

They expressed "major concerns about patient care" and reported that some patients "were left alone for long periods without the pain relief they required."

The hospital, built under a PFI contract costing £261m, should offer state-of-the-art care, but it has been dogged with problems and criticisms since it opened in 2007.

And the local NHS Trust is in massive debt.

The Treasury has asked a team of commercial, legal and technical advisors to examine the PFI contract for the Queen's Hospital to identify ways to reducing ongoing costs in the contract.

It is thought financial lessons can be learned at Queen's and applied to other PFI contracts.

With regards to the failures on the maternity ward, chief executive of Hospital's NHS Trust Averil Dongworth told Sky News: "The Trust has made significant improvements to maternity services since we received the CQC report in January, with a new reception system in place for women in labour and more than 50 extra midwives recruited.

"However, we are not at all complacent about the need to improve the quality of care and experience of every woman using our maternity service.

"The experience that women have during labour, and the care they receive, is extremely important, and in the past we have not always got that right.

"I hope that we can begin to rebuild confidence that we are working to improve the service and ensure that every woman benefits from safe and high quality care."

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