Health chiefs at Europe’s biggest hospital have been told they must implement security improvements over fears that mothers could leave its maternity ward with the wrong baby.
Inspectors at The Royal London Hospital found that some babies born there were not given any name tags. Concerns were raised that a lack of tags could lead to babies being given medicine meant for other little ones, or even going home with the wrong family. Last year, 4,646 babies were born at the hospital.
The hospital was criticised for what was described as a “lax” practice when it came to checking name bands. Meanwhile, nearby Whipps Cross University Hospital, which is run by the same umbrella organisation, was criticised by inspectors who said that they could not find one single example of outstanding care throughout the entire hospital. Shockingly, inspectors found that patients who were coming to the end of their lives were left to suffer in pain. They also observed a vegetarian patient being refused a suitable meal and patients being left in stained clothing.
Inspectors found there were not enough midwives on the maternity ward at The Royal London to make sure that mothers and babies were safe. Midwives told them that they had been told by bosses that they must not talk about low staffing numbers. There was also evidence of “intra-cultural issues” and bullying between midwives and between midwives and patients. One mother was labelled “childish” because she expressed worries about her baby who had been taken into intensive care. The service was also found to be impersonal, with medics referring to women by their bed number, rather than by their name.
A spokeswoman for the health trust said that since the inspection five years ago, procedures had been vastly improved, including the introduction of new baby identification tags.