"Maternity services in Tayside "

About: Arbroath Infirmary / Maternity care Ninewells Hospital / Maternity care

(as the patient),

I was touched by the outstanding service and care I received in the antenatal, labour suite and postnatal wards in Ninewells Hospital so much I felt obliged to write this.

My son was born by category one emergency caesarean section in December 2013, after a prolonged labour lasting several days. I would also like to give recognition to Midwife Mary Thomson, whose speedy response when my son’s heart stopped made sure that we are both safe and well today.

As I was originally meant to give birth in Arbroath maternity unit, I would also like to take this opportunity to make a suggestion. I am appalled by the treatment I received during my labour in the unit and dread to think the outcome of what could have happened if I hadn't been indecisive about going home for the fourth time when a complication was noted on the monitor (that measures contractions and baby’s heartbeat) and was sent to Ninewells.

It seemed that the unit could not cope, as there were four of us in labour at the same time. It felt like they were just sending us home and trying to put us off from coming back in unless it was a time that suited them. As I said before I had been sent home three times before this. Even when I phoned to say that my waters had broken, I was asked did I feel like I wanted to come in or would I rather stay at home.

I had previously been told by the unit to come in as soon as my waters broke. As this is my first baby I found the situation becoming more and more confusing and stressful, as I was getting conflicting advice and was told that if I came in too often or was examined three times I would be sent to Ninewells as I was unable to cope. I could not understand this, how would I know how my labour was progressing if they would not examine me to see how far I had dilated etc? This caused extreme distress to me, as I was beginning to think I would either have to travel to Ninewells Hospital with the staff there thinking I couldn't cope or give birth at home on my own. I only went back in on their request to come back in at 4pm.

I had only been on the monitor for fifteen/twenty minutes when I was told that it would be best if I went home again or for now I could stay but would be put in the day room but would have to go home if any of the other ladies came in. I was also told I had to come off the monitor as another woman had come in to use it. How can you measure how a labour is progressing in fifteen minutes? Only by chance, as I could not make up my mind whether to go home or not one of the midwives decided to roll me onto my left hand side and give me a couple extra minutes on the monitor. It was then that it was noted that when I had contraction my baby’s heartbeat would deplete and this caused a major panic to the two midwives present in the unit.

The situation at Ninewells was so much better and I cannot fault them on anything. Everything was explained to me about what was happening and nothing was contradicted. I was not sent home until I was fit for discharge after the birth, and I was kept on the monitor for two hours at a time.

As a result I feel that Arbroath maternity unit should not be dealing with delivering babies and should only be used for anti and postnatal appointments and classes. I think all deliveries should be done at Ninewells. I have no complaints regarding the midwives at Arbroath, as they are good at the community aspect of their job, but I feel they are trying to keep as many ladies as possible delivering at the unit to keep it open regardless if they can cope or not.

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Response from Caroline Hiscox, Associate Nurse Director, NHS Tayside

Thank you for taking the time to contact us through Patient Opinion and providing us with the opportunity to learn from your experience. I very much appreciate you sharing your recent experience of Tayside maternity services with us and would like to thank you for the positive feedback and comments you have made about your care in Ninewells Hospital during the birth of your son.

I was disappointed to read about your negative experience of care in Arbroath Community Maternity Unit and apologise that this was not the care that you needed during the labour and birth of your son, in what is an exciting but anxious time. NHS Tayside expects that every woman is fully informed of what is happening and that all care options available are fully discussed and communicated. This ensures that women are enabled to make fully informed choices about their care in pregnancy,labour and birth. I am sorry that this was not your experience and that you were left distressed and confused.

I appreciate that given your unsatisfactory experience of Arbroath intrapartum services this has left you without confidence in this aspect of our service and hope I can reassure you that the issues you have raised have been shared with the staff at Arbroath to ensure that they can reflect on your experience and learn from your comments.

Justine Craig, Head of Midwifery, would welcome further contact from you to discuss your recent experiences and to answer any questions may have about your care. Justine can be contacted through the Feedback Team at feedback.tayside@nhs.net.

Kind regards

Caroline McQuillian

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