INSPECTORS found a “long-standing poor staff culture had created an ineffective team” at an NHS hospital’s struggling maternity unit.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has rated the unit at Basildon University Hospital in Essex “inadequate”.
The regulator demanded safety improvements after a string of incidents, including one where a woman bled to death in childbirth.
The trust that runs the hospital said it had taken “immediate action”.
The CQC identified “several serious concerns” during its unannounced inspection on 18 September, which came after the department received its warning in June.
It said the unit did not always have enough staff to keep women safe and “staff did not identify and escalate safety concerns appropriately”.
Inspectors labelled multidisciplinary team working within the unit “dysfunctional” and said there was “poor structure to the safety handover on the delivery suite and confusion to what constituted a safety huddle”.
The CQC said the “long-standing poor staff culture had created an ineffective team where doctors, midwives and other healthcare professionals did not support each other to provide good care”.
It said maternity services at the hospital, on Nethermayne, remained “inadequate” overall.
Professor Ted Baker, the CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, expressed disappointment that “long-standing concerns around staff culture” were still affecting women’s care.
He said all staff met during the inspection were “welcoming, friendly and helpful”, but many had safety concerns.
Following the inspection, conditions were placed on the trust’s registration to ensure mothers and babies had access to “safe, effective and personalised care”.
Prof Baker said the inspection team raised their concerns with NHS England and NHS Improvement and a risk summit was held.
“The leadership team is clear about the steps they need to take, and we will continue to monitor progress closely and will inspect again to check the necessary improvements have been made,” he said.
Clare Panniker, chief executive for Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We acknowledge and accept the CQC’s findings and have taken immediate action to make our services better for women and their families, which we are determined to continue.
“Our robust improvement plan includes introducing extra consultant cover, putting additional leadership in place to support staff, improving staffing levels and working more closely with expectant and new mums so we can deliver a service that meets their needs.”