Christmas

Baby J hospital admits errors

A Jewish woman has complained about a series of blunders by hospital staff after she was forced to give birth in squalor.

Bethlehem NHS Trust apologised after the heavily pregnant woman was sent to an “overflow maternity unit” because all the hospital beds were occupied.

The trust issued an apology acknowledging that the temporary unit attached to a local pub was “totally unsuitable”.

The woman, identified only as “Mary”, said: “It was unbelievable. After waiting hours for an ambulance that never came, my husband had to take me himself on a donkey. When we arrived the staff said there was no room and that I would have to make do with one of the outbuildings, which was dirty and cold. I didn’t even get proper bedding.”

Shortly after giving birth, Mary was subjected to a further ordeal when three bearded strangers turned up bearing gifts for her newborn son and demanding to “adore” him.

“They said they were kings, they were strangely dressed and one of them smelt strongly of frankincense. It was terrifying. When they were joined by a group of local farm workers it was the last straw,” Mary said.

Three males of oriental appearance and several shepherds were later taken into custody by police. The hospital said it had launched an urgent review of security.

Meanwhile, wider questions have been raised about standards of care at Bethlehem after leaked reports of higher than average mortality rates at the maternity unit.

Hospital chief executive Graham Herod-King is under pressure to resign following allegations that he tried to cover up the problem.

Just days earlier a hospital inspection concluded that Herod-King’s management was “exemplary”. CQC inspectors praised the chief executive, calling him a “slightly cruel but very effective leader”.

Staff at Bethlehem maintain that the hospital has been unfairly singled out for criticism and question Mary’s version of events. One nurse hinted at mental health problems.

“Her story doesn’t ring true,” she said. “For a start, Mary claims that she was still a virgin at the time of the birth and we can’t find any medical records for her or her husband. She also upset some of the other mums by bragging that she had given birth to the Son of God and insisting that they bow down before him.

“We always get people like this turning up at our busiest times. It’s the same every Christmas.”

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