"Maternity Department - No empathy and in need of..."

About: Royal Stoke University Hospital

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In September I had a very devastating experience where I had to give birth to my baby at 12 weeks of pregnancy due to the baby being very poorly. The first thing I would like draw attention to is the way I felt knowing that I'd lost my baby and then being made to sit in a busy maternity department waiting room surrounded by happy heavily pregnant women, together with a video playing showing the development of a foetus in the womb. This caused me an un-believable amount of distress. How hard would it be to have a separate room for people in this situation to wait in? I was admitted to the 'Forget Me Not' suite the following morning and then waited several hours to be seen and given the first tablet. The first midwife showed empathy and understanding. Unfortunately her shift soon ended. We were then seen by a series of midwives over the next 24 hours, none of which displayed any skills on how to deal with such a traumatic experience. We were told by several midwives to press the buzzer if we needed them but to be aware that they were very busy dealing with other patients in the main delivery suite. Lovely to hear that they were busy delivering healthy babies whilst I was in labour giving birth to our dead baby! I was also told that I would be set up on an intravenous drip of morphine for the pain. This never happened despite repeatedly asking for it. After several hours of painful contractions, one of the tablets came out. We reported this to the midwife and she did nothing. My contractions then stopped and my labour had come to a complete standstill. I felt that the pain I’d endured prior to the tablet coming out had been in vain, again adding to my distress. Hours later, our parents had grown so frustrated at the lack of communication on what was happening and what was going to happen. They spoke to the midwife and sometime later she came into the room with a surgeon. This man was unbelievably arrogant, ignorant and unhelpful. He proceeded to tell me that there was nothing further they could do for me and how dangerous it would be and the terrible things that could occur if they took me down to theatre. He was incredibly defensive, refusing to answer any questions. Hours later I was stunned to be told I could in fact have surgery after being told that the only option I had was to give birth naturally. I was operated on a few hours later and discharged the next day. I am sure that these issues are not restricted to UHNS and that many other patients at other hospitals throughout the country will have had similar experiences. I cannot understand why the NHS has provided such a wonderful unit for this purpose, yet the Maternity department were completely incompetent and untrained in dealing with such a sensitive issue. This experience has had a profoundly negative effect on me. I will never forget this heart breaking experience, which could’ve been made more bearable if things had been dealt with differently. Training is strongly needed

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Response from Trust HQ

Dear ‘Sweet Bebs’ We have read your comments with great concern and thank you for bringing these issues to our attention. We have already taken some steps to improve our service, including the forthcoming addition of the post of Bereavement Midwife, who will ensure that women experiencing this sad loss are well supported. Further training will also be given to staff to ensure they are able to demonstrate empathy with patients in this distressing situation and equipped to give appropriate care. I am more than happy to meet with you at a convenient time and place outside of the maternity unit, should you wish to discuss your experience further. Please contact me by calling 01782 672100. Jackie Jenkinson Clinical Midwife Manager University Hospital of North Staffordshire NHS Trust

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