A young mother had to deliver her own baby in the lavatory of a flagship hospital because there were no trained midwives available.
Surveyor Catherine Brown had made the agonising decision to undergo a chemically-induced abortion after being told her 18-week pregnancy was risking her life.
But when the time came to give birth she was on an ear, nose and throat ward and had only her mother to help her through the ordeal. Her premature son Edward died in her arms minutes later.
The traumatised mother-of-one said: "I just howled and howled. I remember sitting there looking at him and thinking, 'What do I do next?'. I just sat there on the toilet looking at my dead baby.
"It was dreadful - a terrible nightmare. Then I started crying my eyes out and repeating, 'I'm sorry baby, I'm so sorry'. I still can't believe the hospital had no trained staff who could help me."
To compound Miss Brown's agony, the body of her child was almost discarded with hospital waste.
Her MP has called for an independent review of what he called "one of the most harrowing medical cases I have ever had to deal with".
The catalogue of errors unfolded at the £238million Queen's Hospital in Romford, Essex, which opened last December.
Eleven weeks into her pregnancy, Miss Brown, 30, started suffering abdominal pains. She was told she was suffering from a urinary infection which would not affect her pregnancy. But on the evening of February 21 she started bleeding and was rushed into hospital.
Her condition was stabilised with intravenous antibiotics and in the early hours of the following morning she was moved to a mixed-sex ear, nose and throat ward where a bed was available. She was placed in a doorless annexe of the ward and told to expect a scan in the morning.
By 5pm that evening she had still not had a scan. The procedure was only arranged at 7pm after her mother, Sheila Keeling, 51, threatened to make an official complaint.
Doctors discovered there was no amniotic fluid around the baby, meaning his chances of survival were minimal.
Miss Brown was told her own life was threatened by her condition and, following a consultant's advice, she took the devastating decision to undergo a chemically-induced abortion late that evening, after which she was moved into a private room.
At 4am on the following morning she went into labour but complained she had to wait an hour for gas and air to help with the pain.
With no professional help available, she decided to go to her en suite bathroom and stand over the toilet, which had a disabled bar for support, because she had given birth to her son, 18-month-old Matthew, in an upright position.
Her mother spoke of her fears that she was going to lose her daughter as well as her grandson, because she was bleeding so heavily.
"I was running around frantically trying to find gas and air for her and pleaded with nurses, who seemed very matter of fact, to assist," she said.
"The staff I did find told me they did not have the training to help. Catherine was left to deliver the baby alone with just me for help before cleaning herself up and going back to bed. It was horrific."
But their trauma was still not over. Miss Brown said staff almost took Edward's remains away for disposal despite her informing the hospital she wanted to hold a funeral.
"They didn't even record the details of Edward's birth. But he did exist. And more than that, he was a very special little boy.
"Hopefully he has made sure that other families won't have to go through what we did. We'll never forget him."
Tests later revealed Miss Brown had septicaemia, possibly caused by the placenta failing to implant properly.
Miss Brown, who lives in Hornchurch and has split with Edward and Matthew's father, said the mental and physical toll of her experience meant she had to stop work as a utility surveyor and is only now close to recovering.
Fighting back tears, her mother said: "It was really hard watching my daughter go through that. No one was there to reassure us and make us think they knew what they were doing."
Miss Brown's MP, Conservative-James Brokenshire, said: 'The catalogue of errors and blunders is quite disturbing. There appear to have been systemic issues and potentially issues about individual members of staff.
"While changes have been made by the hospital it is such a horrific story I want everything to be closely scrutinised.
"This has to be one of the most harrowing medical cases I have ever had to deal with.
"Catherine almost died and she later discovered the baby had nearly been disposed of with medical-waste."
Queen's Hospital was opened at the end of last year, taking over maternity services from Oldchurch Hospital in Romford.
Women more than 20 weeks pregnant who experience complications are seen by A&E and sent to the maternity unit if necessary.
Those under 20 weeks also go through A&E but are referred to gynaecology if problems continue.
However, there was not a dedicated gynaecology unit when Miss Brown was admitted, meaning patients were sent to a ward where a bed was available. The Barking, Havering and Redbridge Hospital NHS Trust offered its "sincere condolences" to Miss Brown.
A spokesman said: "We have now established a separate gynaecological A&E service, staffed by gynaecological, medical and nursing staff with access to the Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit.
"From the end of this month, there will be a dedicated gynaecological ward, with the Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit situated within it. This will ensure dedicated and appropriate care."
Me: Yup, that's what socialized health care brings us. Geniuses like this. "Oh, gee, maybe we need a dedicated OB/GYN floor! Maybe we shouldn't put them in with the ENT cases!"
Happy Birthday Universe!
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