"Bad experience of obstetric care in Oldham"

About: Royal Oldham Hospital / Gynaecology

(as the patient),

My daughter in law was admitted to the Royal Oldham Hospital just before xmas with pregnancy complications. We travelled from Scotland to see her, and could not have been more disgusted with the conditions we found.

In the curtained cubicle she was kept in, staff were talking about the most intimate subject loudly and for all to hear. No shred of privacy. After seeing several different doctors, none of whom had the manners to introduce themselves before performing intimate internal examinations, she was given a different diagnosis every time.

Nobody offered a cuppa, while we were there she rang for a nurse and waited 25 minutes before anyone appeared. When baby was born things were no better...when he flopped and stopped breathing she had to carry him down the corridors looking for help because no one responded to the buzzer.

Following the Caesarian section she could barely walk herself. Paint flaked from the walls and what met me in the visitors' toilet defied belief. Trails of blood and excrement on the floor and down the outside of the toilet pan - there long enough that it had dried. And this is the 'envy of the world'?

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Response from Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust 17 years ago
Submitted on 02/03/2007 at 11:54

Each year, thousands of women choose to give birth at The Royal Oldham Hospital.

In a small number of cases, an individual may feel that we have not met the standards they expect, and for that we would always apologise. In those cases, we try very hard to ensure that learning points are conveyed to the individual members of staff involved.

We’re very proud of the team at the Royal who have recently, for example, secured re-accreditation of the UNICEF Baby Friendly Award and had positive feedback from Patient Environment Area Team inspections, which are carried out by a team including independent patient representatives. They welcome feedback from the women who use the service, because that’s how we know what we’re getting right, and where more needs to be done.

We’d encourage the woman referred to in this posting to contact our hospital’s Patient Advice Service directly, so we can get the details we need to take this forward appropriately. Without that information, we can’t really respond in the detail we would want to, but we would make the general following points.

Regarding the issues raised, the claim that help was unavailable when a baby had stopped breathing is a particularly serious one; if we receive the information we need to investigate this fully then this will be done very quickly.

Any claim that staff were discussing patient details too loudly is also a serious one, and all medical and midwifery staff are advised to be discreet to protect the patient’s dignity and privacy.

Likewise, doctors should always introduce themselves. This issue is extremely important, first and foremost to ensure the patient is aware of who is treating them. Regarding differing clinical opinions, there may be occasions whereby clinicians disagree with a colleague’s diagnosis, or it may be that a member of the team seeks advice; obviously patients would expect this to be done, and it is good clinical practise to ensure that all relevant issues are fully considered.

Generally refreshments are not provided to visitors, due to the numbers involved – tens of thousands each year. We have a popular restaurant conveniently located and a number of vending machines, but where staff are aware that family members have travelled long distances then I know from experience that a ‘cuppa’ is often provided on the ward.

Like all hospitals, we take cleanliness of toilets very seriously. We have a system where-by a cleaner can be turned out immediately if a problem is reported. Our domestic staff are employed by commercial contractors, but they certainly see themselves as part of the hospital team (as do we), and we have excellent working relationships with them.

Oldham is both popular and busy, and I know just how hard our midwives and Health Care Assistants work to try to meet all the women’s needs in their individual cases. The maternity unit has served us well, but is now quite old, and a refurbishment has now begun. Everyone is working hard to give women the best possible service, and we welcome any comments to help us achieve this.

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