The Care Quality Commission (CQC) in the UK has urged Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to make immediate improvements concerning child care.
The UK regulator visited the Basildon University Hospital on 3 November 2012 and identified numerous issues related to paediatric care at the trust.
Consequently CQC warned the trust to make improvements and to commission an independent investigation into the paediatric services provided by the trust.
CQC operations deputy director Andrea Gordon said that what the inspectors found at the trust during their visit was completely unacceptable.
"We have taken this action to assist in driving through improvements which have a positive impact on the people being cared for at the hospital," Gordon added.
"It is imperative that the trust now ensures it makes changes which are sustainable, embedded and maintained for the future."
Inspectors found that there were considerable delays in children receiving suitable medical attention, a lack of senior medical and nursing staff, and an inadequate skill mix of nursing and medical professionals on the paediatric ward.
Reports revealed a considerable drop in the availability of permanent paediatric consultants, and inspectors found expired medicines that had not yet been discarded. It was decided that the trust was failing to deliver care that meets the requirements of its patients.
"We have been working closely with our partner agencies with regard to the trust and our concerns about it. The trust has already given us assurances of what action it intends to take and we will be closely monitoring its progress on the improvements it needs to make," Gordon added.
Both CQC and Monitor, the regulator for Foundation Trusts, will work closely with the investigation team and will hold the trust board to account regarding any decisions made to improve services.