Inspectors say improvement at Whipps Cross still required
A new £6.8million maternity unit is set to be built at Whipps Cross University Hospital.
Bosses say the centre, funded by Barts Charity, will transform facilities for women and babies at the Leytonstone hospital. Work will begin in April 2018, with seven clinical areas set to be redesigned.
Alwen Williams, chief executive at Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs Whipps Cross, said: “Our new centre will mean that our dedicated teams not only provide the best care for women and babies in the modern, comfortable facilities that they deserve, but also improve safety for generations through developing innovative new research opportunities.”
Specifically, the new centre will provide a modern midwifery-led birthing unit, assessment units, antenatal clinic, postnatal ward, special care baby unit, plus a Women’s Centre of Excellence with specialist gynaecology and cancer services.
The money will also be used to create a co-located research unit, part of the Barts Women’s Health Research Centre, enabling staff to easily discuss clinical trials with women and featuring a new on-site laboratory. It is estimated these developments will benefit more than 50,000 local families over the next ten years.
Whipps Cross had failed two Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspections in 2015 and 2016 but this year narrowly passed, being given a ‘requires improvement’ grade. It had been noted by CQC inspectors that ageing facilities at the 100-year-old hospital were off-putting to patients, with one in five women currently choosing to give birth elsewhere.
The maternity service is currently rated ‘good’, but the 2017 inspection highlighted surgery as a big area of ongoing concern at Whipps Cross. Hospital managers have been told to ensure theatres meet infection control requirements and that cleaning records are fully completed, among other requests.
A major £500million redevelopment of the hospital is now being planned. The decade-long rebuilding programme is also expected to create room for hundreds of new homes to be built within the 45-acre site, as new hospital buildings are designed in a less sprawling manner.
However, there are concerns over whether some existing facilities will be lost as a result of the development. Last summer a hydrotherapy pool was closed at the hospital, prompting a campaign to re-open it by a group of patients who said it had played an “an important role in easing the pain and stiffness that we suffer”.
A petition by the Save Our Spines Action Group has since been signed by more than one thousand people. The petition states: “We are suffering and desperate for the hydrotherapy pool to be reinstated not just for our sakes but also for all those who should have been referred as patients, for other groups like ours that should have been able to use these facilities.”
A spokesperson for Barts Health had said the number of patients needing to use the pool had “significantly reduced” in recent years.
Views on how Whipps Cross should be redeveloped are currently being sought:
To sign the petition to save the hydrotherapy pool at Whipps Cross: