BASILDON Hospital’s maternity ward has been heavily criticised – and told to improve immediately.

Inspectors found women identified as “high-risk” were not always cared for in appropriate areas or with access to appropriate staff and equipment.

The midwifery-led birthing unit was also deemed “not fit for purpose” and staff had not completed mandatory training, or essential child safeguarding training.

While the hospital received a good rating overall, as a result of these concerns, the maternity ward was rated as requires improvement.

Hospital bosses have said the increase in “complex” cases has resulted in the need for improvements on the ward.

Claire Panniker, chief executive at Basildon Hospital, told how things had already improved.

She said: “

Clare Panniker, Chief Executive at Basildon and Thurrock University Hospital, said: “The report clearly highlights good practice in core services across the Trust, while also outlining areas that ‘Require Improvement’ in areas we shared with the CQC team before the inspection. This included maternity services which require improvement in safety and well-led. 

“Over the last few years there has been a rapid increase in the number of women using our services who have complex medical needs. We are in the process of increasing the physical space for ‘high risk’ women as well as recruiting additional clinical staff. 

“We are confident that our maternity services are safe and are confident that the changes we are making would result in an improved rating if the CQC were to visit again now.”

The report, published by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), said some practices in the maternity ward are not always safe.

The findings come after the Echo revealed in March the hospital launched an investigation into the unrelated deaths of a mother during childbirth and a baby on the ward shortly after the inspection.

Bosses would not reveal how the investigation would be conducted or whether any members of staff had been suspended.

A ten-day closure was put in place between February 13 and 23 which the hospital says was for refurbishment - it coincided with the CQC inspection.