"Felt my miscarriage was treated as a nuisance by Early Pregnancy Unit"

About: Ninewells Hospital / Maternity care

(as the patient),

I experienced my third miscarriage in February this year. I have a healthy toddler daughter, I had two miscarriages prior to that successful pregnancy.

I called EPAC on a Monday morning at 7 am, leaving a very distressed voice mail message as the units opening hours are 9 am - 4 pm Monday to Friday; obviously, as no one suffers a loss out of business hours. By 9.30 am I had still not received a phone call from a midwife so I called again. I spoke to someone, who I can only assume was a receptionist, as she stated she'd heard my message, and was told that a midwife would call me back.

The midwife called me around 10.30 am. The midwife sounded exhausted and uninterested in the symptoms I was describing, reasonable and consistent blood loss with no clots and complete loss of morning sickness symptoms. I had a scheduled appointment at EPAC the following Friday afternoon, the midwife said I would have to wait until then to be seen at the unit as it was so busy - a full five days. I was gobsmacked, as I was hospitalised during my first miscarriage due to blood loss; how from a two minute telephone conversation could she determine this would not happen again? Far from the physical aspects of another miscarriage, there was no consideration to the mental torture of waiting for five full days. I stated this was far too long to wait. Grudgingly she managed to find an appointment the following day mid morning. I was treated as if I was a nuisance for asking to be seen while experiencing a truly heartbreaking event in my life. My baby, even just a few weeks gestation was to me my baby, was dying/had died and no one cared. No one even cared if I was physically ok.

At 1 pm my symptoms got a lot worse. I was scared. I called EPAC again and they agreed to see me later that afternoon. The midwife, who I had met through my previous successful pregnancy of my daughter, was sympathetic when dealing with my husband and I and was very thorough in her examination. I had lost my baby.

I'm not sure why, possibly as I was grateful to be seen and finally treated with compassion, I apologised for calling the unit throughout my ordeal and thanked the midwife for making time to see me. The response I received shocked me. I was told that I was lucky I lived in Dundee, because if I lived in Edinburgh, they wouldn't have seen me. She then went on to tell me how EPAC had filled in for another clinic that morning and how the unit was so busy. I understand that the NHS is under pressure due to budget cuts etc but I, possibly naively, was very surprised how unimportant my miscarriage was considered.

I shouldn't need to write on a website like this to tell Ninewells and the midwives that work there that a miscarriage is still a loss of life to those experiencing it. It was wrong that I was treated as a nuisance on one of the worst days of my life. Although, as medical professionals like to remind me, miscarriage may be common, that does not make it any easier to deal with. It is incredibly traumatic, it affects every single aspect of the parents' life and the mental pain lasts a long time after the physical side had finished.

I have had no chance of follow up tests or counselling of any sort, due to the fact my three miscarriages have not been one after the other. I am so grateful and glad I had a successful pregnancy, as I have a wonderful child whom has been my reason to carry on after the miscarriage. I have to experience two further tragedies before anyone will investigate to why these are happening. That will be a total of five miscarriages before anyone cares.

I am pregnant again and terrified. Not only of suffering another loss but if being treated as a nuisance if this does happen.

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Response from Caroline Hiscox, Associate Nurse Director, NHS Tayside

Dear fls,

I very much appreciate you sharing your experience with us and particularly for taking the time to highlight the positive aspect of your care as well as the aspects that we could improve upon.

I was saddened to read about the loss of your baby through miscarriage and I am very disappointed to learn about your experience of the EPAC service in February. May I please take this opportunity to apologise that the midwife who returned your call sounded uninterested. NHS Tayside expects that staff are sensitive to individuals needs and provide the best service possible every time.

I recognise this must have been a most upsetting and distressing time for you and whilst there can be pressures placed upon our Midwifery teams every day I am so sorry that you felt as if you were a nuisance; this should not have been the case.

You will appreciate that I do not have the specific details required to identify the individuals that you were in contact with however your comments have been shared with the staff to ensure that they reflect on your experience to improve communication within the service and aim to treat all women with compassion.

May I convey my congratulations on your current pregnancy and I wish you all the best for the duration of your pregnancy. Justine Craig, Head of Midwifery, would welcome further contact from you to discuss your previous experiences and to answer any questions you have about your current care. Justine can be contacted through the Feedback Team at feedback.tayside@nhs.net

I would like to thank you for taking the time to contact us through Patient Opinion and providing the opportunity to learn from your experience.

Kind regards

Caroline McQuillian

Associate Nurse Director.

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Update posted by fls (the patient)

Sadly I did have to return to EPAC just under two weeks ago and received the devastating news that I was likely in the process of miscarrying again.

The experience was completely different to the last time; I was seen within two hours of phoning, I did not have to plead to be seen this time. The midwife seemed to genuinely care about me, treated my husband and I with respect, sympathy and spent time talking to us. I think the midwives name was Laura, she made receiving the worst news a wee bit more bearable. I was even given painkillers to use if I needed them.

I had to return a week later for a follow up scan and was seen by Yvonne, who again was very sympathetic and took time to talk things through with us as we were (and still are) very upset. I was given information on management of miscarriage and a card for the miscarriage association for support.

Response from Caroline Hiscox, Associate Nurse Director, NHS Tayside

Dear fls,

Please let me take this opportunity to offer my condolences for the loss of your baby.

I am glad that the midwifery team were able to make an extremely worrying and sad time more bearable, in particular Laura and Yvonne.

Thank you for taking the time to share your experience, particularly as it was so different to your last experience, I will ensure that this is shared with the team.

Kind regards



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