"Lack of understanding from cleaners"

About: Royal Stoke University Hospital / Maternity care

(as the patient),

As an expectant mother I had lots of anxieties about my forthcoming C-section, along with great anticipation and excitement.

My main worry about staying on the ward though was that I have a chronic bowel disease and a permanent ileostomy. This means that sharing a bathroom can sometimes be very difficult as the disease leads to some rather embarrassing outcomes - such as very smelly output!

I spoke to the ward beforehand and we discussed the possibility of a room to myself but this would be decided when I was admitted. I ended up on a shared ward though, which wasn't an issue at all and to my relief there were a number of beds empty and so I felt sharing the bathroom was OK.

On my day of discharge I had prepared myself, had a shower and changed my ileostomy bag in the bathroom. Admittedly, it did result in a smelly bathroom after but this is unfortunately a symptom of the disease and nothing I can control.

I was waiting to be discharged when the cleaning staff came on to the ward. They went into the bathroom and said in the loudest voice "it stinks in here" and continued to moan and complain about the smell. As you would imagine I was mortified and tremendously embarrassed. They appeared thoroughly put-out by the smell and used no amount of discretion to hide it.

Whilst feeling utterly embarrassed, I also felt very angry at their behaviour and this experience, moments before leaving the hospital with my first born, left me with a very bitter sweet feeling!

I might expect this kind of behaviour from cleaners in some plush hotel, not expecting to be dealing with the symptoms of ill health, but this was from cleaners in a hospital. I did put it on my feedback form and have no idea whether it was ever taken up with them.

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Response from University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust

Dear ‘Esmeflo’

Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback.

I am disappointed to hear about such conduct which is below the standard I expect from the domestic team working within our Maternity Unit. Discretion and respect should be shown to our patients at all times.

I have raised your comments with our Unit Cleaning Manager and informed her to communicate to all cleaning staff that this type of behaviour is not acceptable.

I apologise profusely for the embarrassment and distress caused to you.

Best wishes,

Karen Meadowcroft, Head of Midwifery

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