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Watchdog reveals poor maternity care

PUBLISHED: 12:41 30 January 2008 | UPDATED: 11:30 01 July 2010

HOSPITAL chiefs have denied maternity care is unsafe after scoring dismally in a watchdog report. Bromley Hospitals NHS Trust came 142nd of 148 trusts in the Healthcare Commission s (HCC) first annual report on English maternity services. The trust had

HOSPITAL chiefs have denied maternity care is unsafe after scoring dismally in a watchdog report.

Bromley Hospitals NHS Trust came 142nd of 148 trusts in the Healthcare Commission's (HCC) first annual report on English maternity services.

The trust had the second lowest ratio of staff to patients with 22.89 midwives per 1,000 births, compared to a national average of 31 per 1,000.

Jennie Hall, acting nurse director at Bromley Hospitals, said: "This does not indicate unsafe care.

"The trust is already aware of the need to improve certain areas of service delivery, and is drawing up an action plan."

Lewisham Hospital NHS Trust and Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup were also classed as "least well performing" in the HCC report, amongst 15 other London hospitals. Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich was classed as "fair performing".

Kate Limbird, Queen Mary's associate director for women's and children's services, said the report was based on historical information.

The Sidcup trust received bottom marks for the homeliness of its delivery rooms as the report did not consider four rooms that were refurbished last March.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) said the report's finding were not surprising and should act as a wake up call for the NHS.

Francine Allan, RCM London representative, said a lack of targets for maternity units meant hospitals had let their numbers of midwives slip.

She said: "Inadequate staffing is really going to show badly in the services we deliver."

Mrs Allan also slammed A Picture of Health's proposals to axe maternity services at half of south east London's hospitals.

She added: "Closing Queen Mary's maternity unit would have an awful knock-on effect, putting more pressure on neighbouring hospitals. If they are talking about rising birth rates and more houses being built in the Thames Gateway, how will they deliver? It's crazy."

Roger Smith, medical director of Queen Mary's Sidcup, said A Picture of Health had considered population increases.

He added: "With London being such a small geographical area, high quality maternity services will still be very accessible.

"By consolidating maternity services into fewer units, we will be improving the quality in the sector."

jules.cooper@archant.co.uk

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