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"Antenatal Care appointment was not acceptable"

About: Maternity care / Antenatal and Postnatal (Ward 38) Ninewells Hospital / Maternity care

(as the patient),

I am currently pregnant with my 3rd child.

I am high risk pregnancy due to existing blood conditions and during my first pregnancy in 2012 I developed HELLP syndrome which resulted in baby being born by emergency c-section at 32 weeks. During my second pregnancy things were much smoother and baby was born at 38 weeks by planned section due to my platelet count reducing. 

On finding out that I was pregnant again at around 3 weeks I phoned antenatal and requested I be referred to the same doctor my previous pregnancies, however I was told that this was not possible as systems had changed and I would have to complete an online form. Having not heard back from anyone after 2 weeks I followed this up and was told that no one would be in contact until approx 12 weeks gestation. I advised that this was not an option as I would require blood thinning medication prior to 6 - 8 weeks to lessen chance of miscarriage. I was advised they would put a flag on the system and a midwife would be in touch for booking appointment when possible. Another week or 2 passed and I still had not heard from anyone regarding medication and therefore had to contact haematology to get access to the medication I require. 

This is the first pregnancy where I have been tested for Gestational Diabetes, which unfortunately was confirmed as positive at 28 weeks. On receiving diagnosis I was sent a link for a dietician video regarding dietary adjustments and given an appointment to attend to get testing kit and further information. This appointment (Thursday) advised of the risks of GD and why it happens during pregnancy. It was reassuring to know that there was nothing that I had done that had caused this and that it was due to hormonal changes during pregnancy. On being given the testing kit I was advised to monitor my blood sugars 4x a day (first thing in the morning and 2 hours after meals) I was also given parameters that my levels should be under. I would then have an appointment with the diabetic team on the Tuesday to review. 

The appointment I attended on that Tuesday is possibly the worst hospital appointment I have ever attended in my life. On going into the room there was a medical student, antenatal consultant and another doctor, the dietician then also joined us. The dietician and doctor we intimidating and condescending towards me regarding my dietary choices - bearing in mind I had not been asked to make any major changes at this stage. I was chastised for not watching the full video I had been sent the link to - although parts of the video are helpful that alone does not prepare you for the changes to be made due to GD - I highly recommend GDUK for information on dietary changes. I understand that watching the video is expected and required but as a working mother of 2 with a hectic schedule I just hadn't had time in the 4 days. However the dietician made me feel like I was to blame for the situation which is not helpful for any pregnant woman. 

The doctor also had not read my medical notes and made no effort to check these at all, presuming this was my first pregnancy, asking me to list all of my medical conditions and then asking me questions regarding the medications I was prescribed and how the doseage is not what they would recommend - I explained that it is the same dose as I was on in both previous pregnancies and they continued on to say that haematology must not be aware of the new guidance etc - all this information is in my notes, which were right in front of them. This attitude towards me was awful from start to finish and the consultant actually looked apologetic and pointed out that the information was all in the notes in front of them. 

I have since contacted antenatal and requested my care be returned to my previous doctor as my consultant, this in itself was a difficult thing to do having phoned antenatal/midwives twice and never had a call back to confirm if this would happen and resulting in my having to email the antenatal consultants secretary to discuss directly with the previous doctor. 

On returning to diabetic clinic for my follow up appointment 4 weeks later I was seen by a midwife in the first instance and she could not have been more understanding of my situation which was so appreciated by me and my husband. There was a different consultant there today - However the midwife did offer to ask for my previous doctor to come to see me if that would be more comfortable for me. After some discussion I decided I would be OK with the new doctor so long as it was not the doctor I had seen the previous month, and this appointment went well. 

I understand that the NHS is under an enormous amount of pressure and everyone can have a bad day but the way I was spoken to, judged and treated at that appointment is just not acceptable when you are looking for guidance and advice to ensure a positive outcome in your pregnancy. 

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Response from Donna Brough, Senior Midwife, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, NHS Tayside last month
Donna Brough
Senior Midwife, Obstetrics & Gynaecology,
NHS Tayside

manage the in hospital maternity services in Ninewells

Submitted on 26/11/2021 at 15:28
Published on Care Opinion at 15:58

Thank you so much for taking the time to provide this feedback and I will share it with the antenatal clinic and diabetes teams.

I am very sorry to hear that your experience of the maternity service has not been positive. I would like to discuss this further with you so that I can address some of your concerns, please contact me via email-

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