UK & World News
Whipps Cross Hospital 'Unsafe And Uncaring'
An NHS trust has been issued with three formal warnings after inspectors found "unsafe" conditions including filthy maternity wards and water placed out of the reach of elderly patients.
Barts Health NHS Trust "failed to protect the safety and welfare of patients" at Whipps Cross University Hospital in Leytonstone, east London, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said.
The trust must now make "urgent improvements", following unannounced inspections in May and June.
The hospital was failing to meet 10 of the 16 national standards for quality and safety, inspectors found.
On maternity wards, "serious shortfalls" were noted, such as blood-stained equipment, filthy curtains, staff not cleaning their hands and midwives failing to carry out proper checks on newborns.
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 said in their report.
"In surgery, theatre processes and communication arrangements put people's safety at risk."
During just one visit, inspectors identified "serious shortfalls" in eight out of the 16 essential standards hospitals are required to meet by law.
Staff on postnatal wards were found to be "uncaring".
The report said: "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.
"We observed the same midwife bringing the wrong formula milk (as it was different to what the woman had previously been feeding her baby). When asked by the woman, the midwife did not accept she had brought the wrong milk and did not offer the woman the correct alternative."
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," inspectors said.
Inspectors also found shortages of staff on elderly care wards, including a lack of qualified nurses.
Barts Health NHS Trust chief executive Peter Morris said: "Barts Health is committed to ensuring the safety and welfare of every one of our patients and we are extremely sorry for the failings in some of our services at Whipps Cross Hospital.
"We have taken immediate action to rectify the failures to ensure we meet standards across the hospital at all times."
Barts Health NHS Trust is already under scrutiny by chief inspector of hospitals Professor Sir Mike Richards.
It is one of 18 trusts being examined due to potential risks to patients, and is one of five on the list, announced in July, that is considered to be "high risk".
Royal College of Nursing (RCN) London regional director Bernell Bussue said: "It's deeply concerning to see these failures in relation to basic standards of infection control, hygiene, waiting times and providing adequate food and drink."