MOTHERS have spoken out after a damning inspection of a hospital’s maternity ward found they and their new-born babies were put at risk.

Colchester Hospital was visited by investigators - including two obstetricians and a midwife - from independent regulator the Care Quality Commission in March.

They looked into the standard of maternity services after six staff members raised concerns about staffing, leadership, incident management and culture.

The watchdog has now instructed the East Suffolk and North Essex Trust, which runs the hospital, to make significant improvements after finding a catalogue of failures.

Rating the services as requiring improvement, the CQC found Colchester Hospital’s maternity unit was short-staffed and had a 33 per cent unexpected absence rate for midwives.

As a result, the inspectors found the “process for induction of labour impacted on staff well-being and their confidence in keeping themselves and women and babies safe.”


Staff were also not always compliant with important training, such as sepsis and safeguarding training, medicines were not always stored correctly, and there were gaps in emergency equipment checks.

Due to being without a clear strategy, workers also found themselves unsure about their roles and responsibilities, and some employees were often found “burnt out and tearful”.

Mum Kiri Bottomley, who had a c-section at Colchester Hospital, said: “My baby came four weeks early and my pleas for help were ignored and I wasn’t helped on the ward.

“I was missed off doctors’ rounds until it became an emergency situation and both myself and my baby had an infection.

“I was sent home with no after care information and still battling an infection.

“At a time you are at your most vulnerable, inadequacy isn’t acceptable. Short-staffed or not, the lack of care and training is not on.”

Ellen Speller had her second son on the ward last year and has described her experience as horrific.

She said: “I had a C-section and I had to sort myself out and was left in a bed which was covered in blood.

“[It was a] nightmare.”

Charlotte Parsons-Haber, who gave birth to twins at the hospital, said she could not fault the midwives.

She added: “I can hand on my heart say the maternity and midwifery team were incredible. 

“It is evident the poor staff are stretched to their limits, but regardless, the care that was given was outstanding.

“The blame is on the trust. It is not on the staff, their continual hard work should be acknowledged and not slated.”

This was echoed in the CQC report which said women were supported by committed workers on the maternity ward, which has 26 beds and accommodates both antenatal and postnatal women.

Services were also rated good for being effective, caring, and responsive to people’s needs, but the ward was rated requires improvement for safety and being well-led.


Nick Hulme, chief executive of the trust, said: “We accept the CQC’s findings and have already taken action to improve our staffing levels, leadership and processes to ensure patient safety.

“We are investing in recruitment for our maternity services and are pleased a new expert senior midwife will be joining us shortly to lead our service, with an additional 30 midwives due to join us over the next few months.”

The trust is also set to invest £1.4million in its maternity services with ten midwives a month joining from July onwards.