Staffing levels at the hospital which will soon provide maternity services for thousands of women in Redbridge are dangerously low, according to a health watchdog.

Queen’s Hospital in Romford is one of 17 hospitals issued with a warning by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) over the number of nurses it employs, according to a report in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper.

Under government plans, maternity services at King George Hospital in Goodmayes are due to close in April with Queen's Hospital taking up much of the slack.

The A&E unit at King George is also earmarked for closure, although that move is on hold until health bosses deem Queen's capable of dealing with the extra work such a move would create.

Details of the latest inspections were released to the Telegraph by the Labour Party.

It says the CQC concludes there are not enough staff in the maternity unit at Queen's Hospital and that women in labour were exposed to unnecessary risk as a result.

It also says that some midwives at the hospital could not perform basic skills.

In 2011 an investigation was launched into care provided by the Barking, Havering and Redbridge Hospitals Trust after the deaths of five women who had given birth at the Queen's maternity unit.

The trust has now met the majority of the CQC’s conditions, but campaigners fighting against the closure of maternity services at King George Hospital will see this latest report as proof that the move is misguided.

Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, told The Telegraph: “Where CQC inspections find NHS and social care providers failing in their legal duties to provide enough staff or appropriate care, we expect swift action to be taken.

“There can be no excuse for not providing appropriate staff levels.”

A total of 26 health providers are named in the report, including Queen's and the Ainslie and Highams Inpatient Facility in Chingford.