Mother and unborn baby die after hospital staff ignore husband's pleas

Died: Sareena Ali, pictured with her husband Usman Javed
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A pregnant woman died and her baby was stillborn at a hospital criticised by the NHS watchdog for poor standards of care, it was revealed today.

An investigation has now been launched into the deaths of Sareena Ali, 27, and her first child after her family accused staff of negligence.

The Harrods worker was induced at Queen's Hospital in Romford after being overdue at 40 weeks. Husband Usman Javed said she was in "unbearable pain" just afterwards and his pleas for help were ignored by "uncaring, incompetent" midwives.

She had suffered a ruptured womb that triggered cardiac arrest and major organ failure. Doctors had to carry out an emergency Caesarean on the ante-natal ward alongside frightened mothers-to-be.

Her baby was delivered lifeless and five days later Mrs Ali died. The hospital has accepted liability, admitting she received "unacceptable" standards of care. Two midwives have been suspended pending inquiries.

The couple, from Romford, arrived at the maternity unit on January 23. As the day wore on, Mrs Ali began to become distressed by the pain.

Mortgage consultant Mr Javed, 29, who was at her bedside with her brother, told how he asked several times for staff to examine her and move her to the labour ward.

He said staff members rejected his requests and spoke to him rudely, with one dismissing his fears by saying: "Haven't you been reading books the last nine months?"

His wife's condition then appeared to deteriorate but Mr Javed said continued pleas for help were dismissed. Eventually a night shift nurse came to see Mrs Ali, who by this time could not speak and was clammy.

She took her temperature but left again. A few minutes later, at 9.50pm, Mrs Ali fell unconscious. She had suffered cardiac arrest.

The Care Quality Commission had already been investigating standards of care at the maternity unit. In a report released this month, the commission said the unit was putting women and babies at risk and not "taking all the proper steps" to ensure patient safety.

It warned Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust to make improvements or face prosecution or restriction of services.

Mr Javed, who is launching legal action against the Trust, said: "No other mothers must suffer the pain Sareena experienced.

"If we had known the maternity services at Queen's were under investigation by the commission and had been criticised I would have never taken Sareena there.

"The chief executive should consider her position. She must have known services were poor and yet she left uncaring, incompetent staff looking after my beloved wife. She must take responsibility for this tragedy which could and should have been avoided."

Solicitor Sarah Harman, representing Mr Javed, said: "This double tragedy is the worst case I have been involved with. In the 21st century we should not have mothers and babies dying on hospital wards."

Hospital chief executive Averil Dongworth said Mrs Ali suffered "a very rare medical complication" but added: "The care provided in her early labour was of an unacceptable standard and liability will not be disputed."

External assessors are making a serious incident investigation.

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