BASILDON Hospital’s maternity unit is under investigation following the deaths of a mum and a baby.

The Care Quality Commission yesterday said the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch is looking into the deaths which occurred after a commission inspection during which the unit was closed.

A spokeswoman said: “The Care Quality Commission is aware of the death of a baby and a maternal death at Basildon Hospital’s maternity unit.

“Prior to this, the commission inspected the service between February 12 and 14 and will be publishing our report in due course.”

The spokeswoman added: “The unit was closed during the course of Care Quality Commissions’s inspection but this was a decision of the trust. We are monitoring the trust closely.”

The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch is a team of investigators who are funded by the Department of Health but who operate independently of NHS organisations.

They can demand immediate access to any organisation they investigate and any documents associated with a case.

Esther Kuku, interim head of communications at Basildon Hospital was asked to provide a comment on the deaths, the independent investigation and what safeguards had been put in place in the interim.

The hospital did not comment on the deaths or confirm whether the deaths were linked.

But Dawn Patience, Director of Nursing at Basildon Hospital said: “Our women’s experience is really important to us. Therefore we are continually working to improve both the environment and the facilities within maternity services for women, babies and their families.

“We are refurbishing the Willow Ward. While some of this work took place, midwife led deliveries traditionally provided on Willow Ward took place in our delivery suite. This enabled us to minimise any disturbance to our patient’s experience and continue to provide the same high quality service but in a different environment.”

She added the ward re-opened on Saturday, February 23 and was closed for ten days.

The closure, she said, was due to the refurbishment and unrelated to the CQC inspection.