A hospital that came under fire after two newborn babies died in its maternity unit has failed to implement sufficient improvements, the Care Quality Commission has said.
An investigation was launched following the death of Romy Feast, who was born by caesarean section at Milton Keynes Hospital in June 2007 but died after her cardiotocography was misinterpreted.
The hospital was later reported to the Department of Health, prompting a Healthcare Commission investigation that set out recommendations in a report in 2008.
But last May another child, Ebony McCall, died on an overstretched maternity ward at the same hospital.
The Care Quality Commission, which took over from the Healthcare Commission, concluded that temporary measures put in place by Milton Keynes Hospital Foundation Trust were “not sustainable”.
It said the trust must “plan better” for emergencies, complicated births and staff shortages and ensure “staff know what to do in these circumstances”.
And it said the trust should recruit more permanent midwives and open more permanent beds, providing swift back-up when necessary.
Care Quality Commission regional director in the South East Roxy Boyce acknowledged some improvements had been made but added: “While we believe the trust has now made suitable arrangements to effectively manage demand in the short term, the trust has not sufficiently planned for the added demand on its services.
“More midwives are needed if the trust is to open more permanent beds and deal with demand in the future.
“We want to see a trust that is determined to get it right for every mother, with zero tolerance of poor safety standards, whatever the pressures.”
There are 30 permanent beds on the unit and a further 12 can be opened when needed.
But these cannot be opened permanently due to a lack of midwives.
Retirements this year are expected to further reduce staff numbers.
The CQC said temporary measures were in place to ensure there were enough midwives to provide safe and effective care for mothers and babies.
But it said the trust must accelerate improvements to its maternity services and improve planning to meet long term demand.
NHS Milton Keynes director of strategy and planning Diane Gray said: “NHS Milton Keynes would like all women to feel empowered to choose to have their baby in the way that is right for them.
“By making all women more aware of the options available to them, we are encouraging expectant mothers to feel confident in their choice of the type of birth and where they have their baby.”