Croydon University Hospital has been ordered to take action to address shortages of midwives in its maternity unit by the Care Quality Commission.
The regulator found the number of midwives was insufficient to ensure patient safety or that their needs were met when it visited the hospital, which is run by Croydon Health Services Trust, in February.
The CQC warned that the maternity unit was not meeting six essential standards of care overall. Concerns were raised about recent maternal deaths at the unit and the trust’s ability to provide optimum care in emergency situations. Evidence was also found that one to one care on the labour ward was not always being provided.
Other findings included equipment not always being available when needed and patients potentially being treated by incompetent support staff, as there was evidence that mandatory staff training was not up to date.
The commission acknowledged that the trust was in the process of recruiting additional midwives at the time of its review.
Colin Hough, regional director of the CQC in London, said: “We will continue to monitor the trust’s progress, to make more unannounced visits if necessary, and to take any further action that we deem necessary to make sure the trust gets it right.”
“We have asked the trust to reply within 28 days of receiving CQC’s report, setting out the action they will take to improve. We will follow up to make sure that the improvements have been made.”
A trust spokeswoman said: “The issues raised (in the report) were already being addressed and have been the focus of a detailed improvement plan for the past few months.”
But Cathy Warwick, general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “These issues keep cropping up again and again in reports and directly from our members across England…
“It is deeply worrying that we are seeing an increasing number of reports coming from the Care Quality Commission highlighting failings in maternity services.”