The hospital trust manager at Queen's Hospital in Romford has been forced to apologise over failings in care given to two maternity patients who died.

An external review into the death's of Violet Stephens and Tebussum Ali ((known as Sareena) in January revealed there were "a succession of failures in their care."

The chief executive of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, Averil Dongworth said:

"Our hospitals deliver nearly 10,000 babies each year and it is our highest priority to ensure each woman receives the highest standard of care.

"I am so sorry that both Violet Stephens and Sareena Ali did not receive the standard of care they were entitled to expect."

Ms Stephens was admitted with life-threatening pre-eclampsia, but a delay over a blood transfusion and subsequently for CPR resulted in her death along with her baby.

Similar problems affected Sareena Ali, who suffered from an undiagnosed ruptured womb before staff tried to resuscitate her with a disconnected oxygen mask.

One of the main routes of the problem is an issue focused on before in JFHC, the lack of experienced, qualified midwives.

In an effort to cover its maternity service, Queen's Hospital had to recruit over 70 new midwives this year alone.

The news comes in the same week as an RCM survey revealed that senior midwives were "deeply worried" about the future of the profession.

One midwive commented:"I have concerns about service delivery, home visiting, maintaining quality, staff disillusionment."

Another added:"Relentless pressure to reduce costs with a feeling that no-one at executive level, except for our head of nursing, is keeping a watchful eye on quality and patient experience."

In the March edition of JFHC magazine, we revealed the growing crisis in midwifery with Royal College of Midwives General Secretary, Professor Cathy Warwick, writing that "a serious shortfall [of midwives] is putting pregnant women's lives increasingly at risk." 

While the RCM has declined to comment on this specific case, Prof Warwick said: "It's not just about numbers, births are also becoming increasingly complex needing more of midwives' time.

"The combination of this and the rising birthrate is a dangerous cocktail threatening the safety and quality of maternity care."

The issue is also likely to prompt the UK's only trade union for midwives to step up its "Protect Maternity Services" campaign which called on Prime Minister David Cameron to follow through on his pre-election pledge to recruit more midwives.



Posted on September 30 2011 at 1125 by Richard. Comment by emailing: