A mother died after waiting three days to have an emergency caesarean at what is described as the worst maternity unit in Britain.

Violet Stephens was rushed to the hospital early April last year after her blood pressure soared, but staff delayed delivering her baby despite Stephens being diagnosed with pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome, a life-threatening complication.

The 35-year-old gave birth to a boy at 31 weeks, but her condition deteriorated rapidly and she died of multiple organ failure shortly afterwards. Stephens may have survived if she had been given a caesarian section earlier, instead she had to wait three days before undergoing the procedure because of a “serious failure” by consultants at the hospital.

Senior obstetrician, Professor Susan Bewley, who produced an external review of events that led to Stephens’ death last year, said:

There were a number of missed opportunities to plan ahead for the delivery of the baby on April 8. There was no reason to delay and every reason to act quickly.

The hospital has a reputation for bad care and are facing legal action by 12 women and their families over care they received at the hospital’s maternity unit. There were also three maternal deaths in 2010 which gives it a death rate three times higher than the national average for maternity units.

Stephens leaves behind three sons.