King's College Hospital in South London has admitted that mums are 'regularly' going into labour in the hospital's maternity waiting room as there are not enough beds available.
Campaigners have warned that mothers and babies lives are being put at risk due to appalling standards of care.
It has been claimed that mums have delivered their babies in the public seating area whilst other patients look on, with just a temporary screen to protect their privacy.
The hospital has admitted its maternity unit is severely overstretched, and there are not enough beds to deal with the catchment area's increasing birth rate. Critics however are warning the situation will soon become the norm throughout the country as maternity units close down in cost cutting measures.
Managers at King's College Hospital stated in an internal report: 'Increasing demand for use of the maternity services at King's has resulted in there being insufficient space to care for all women appropriately when giving birth and accessing care. Women are labouring in the waiting room on a regular basis while waiting for a labour room, sometimes giving birth inappropriately before this area is free.'
The report going on to say that there have been 40 serious incidents in the past three months at the hospital's maternity ward because there were not enough beds or staff.
Geoff Martin of the London Health Emergency, an organisation which campaigns against hospital cuts said: 'It is clear from this problem at King's that we don't have enough capacity for women in labour as it is. The problem will only get worse when more units close.'
One mum told reporters how she almost delivered her child in the waiting room: 'It was ridiculous. I was kept waiting for hours, but luckily it was a long labour, so eventually I managed to get a place on the labour ward in time for the birth.'
A spokesman for King's College Hospital said: 'Like many other hospitals, our maternity unit is very busy – we deliver 6,000 babies every year. On very rare occasions, when women attended the unit in the very final stages of labour, they had to give birth in the waiting area because all the delivery rooms were full.'
What do you think?
Have you laboured in a public area of a hospital due to lack of beds in the maternity unit?
Suggested For You
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements. Learn more