"St Georges Maternity Ward"

About: St George's Hospital (Tooting) / General surgery St George's Hospital (Tooting) / Urology

(as the patient),

I was admitted early after displaying signs of Pre-Eclampsia.

After nearly two weeks in hospital being monitored, I was taken into a meeting and told my baby would be delivered by c-section at 34 weeks. The care was exemplary leading up to this point.

On the morning of the section, I was taken into a room on the Gwillam Ward (I had previously been housed next door on the Carmen Suite) and told this would where me and baby - his health permitting - would be returning to.

The c-section was the first and biggest surgery I had ever had to experience and the staff in the theater were absolutely fantastic.

Things took a turn for the worst as my epidural took hold. I seemed to have an 'adverse reaction' to the anesthetic and passed out on the table. I was trying as hard as I could, mid-consciousness, to tell them something wasn't right, but the only person who seemed to be listening was my partner, and by then I had fallen unconscious.

Once I had come round, of course time was of the essence and they whipped out my little one in no time. I was too under the influence to cry or feel any emotion at this point. All I cared about was the fact I could hear him crying. They told me he was well enough via the AGAR score to come with me once he had undergone a couple more tests.

I was wheeled into recovery where my partner and I were told to wait until I'd perked up a little. This didn't happen. I began feeling worse and worse. A staff member (supposedly under the watchful eye of my blood pressure) kept assuring us everything was okay, and the fact I could barely talk was normal. After three hours of watching my blood pressure creep up to 120/160, my partner called the nurse over again and asked if this was normal. As this happened, a neo-natal nurse was coming back in with the second c-section patient of the day. She came over to ask how I was, before seeing my blood pressure and alerting a doctor. We overheard her take the staff member aside and ask whether if they had heard of Pre-Eclampsia to which they replied: no.

I was rushed into high dependency and pumped full of Oramorph and Tramadol. I was unable to open my eyes or sit up, or even mutter words. At one point, as my family arrived, I was screaming in agony and falling in and out of consciousness. The nurse on duty responded to me begging for help by opening a window and telling me to relax.

This continued for a number of hours (my family had to leave; they couldn't bear to see me in such a way) my partner got angry and insisted we see a doctor. The response was that they had done their rounds.

Eventually the anesthetist that was in theater came in and stood watching my blood pressure while I writhed in pain and vomited. She explained to the (still useless) nurse that she wanted to put me on Magnesium to prevent seizures.

This was done. At no point was I told the effects the Magnesium would have on my already battered body. I couldn't sleep, I couldn't drink water and I couldn't sit up: not for the pain, but for my head and body as a whole. The nurses kept returning, forcing me to take more Tramadol and Oramorph.

After 24 hours of this, my partner and I requested no more drugs be forced upon me. The nurses were greatly unhappy with this, saying that most women are up and about by now and that I needed it in order to make sure I was.

The catheter had begun to irritate my bladder and again I found myself begging professionals to help me and to take it out. After another 12 hours this was done begrudgingly.

I found myself being forced to sit up and attempt to walk by one nurse. The pain and effort was so great I began to lose consciousness again. She would not let me relent and rest. She insisted I pushed myself to limits I did not have. I ended up being very rude and screaming at her to leave me alone.

This whole time my poor partner was flitting between my son and I - He had been taken into High Dependency himself - we later discovered he had suspected Septicemia...on his discharge form.

48 hours after the section, I had managed to go to the toilet with the help of my partner wheeling me the two meter distance from my bed to the toilet. He then wheeled me in to see my son for the first time.

The staff in the neo-natal ward were award-worthy.

As I was wheeled back, the nurses came in with the doctors on their rounds. I was deemed to be fully recovered due to being out of bed. (I still couldn't even sit up straight or pour myself a glass of water) My partner discussed with the doctor my condition and the doctor advised it was probably safer that I was kept in HD for one more night.

I was slowly regaining my strength. However, I still could not get myself from my bed to the wheelchair, let alone go anywhere by myself such as the toilet.

An anesthetist came in to visit myself and my partner and explained that he believe I'd had an adverse reaction to opiate drugs. He offered me Ketamine as another form of pain killer, which I politely refused. (I'm no expert, but is Ketamine not in the same band of opiates? ? ? )

My partner asked if I'd eaten around 9pm on the Saturday night (my section was at 9am on the Thursday morning) to which I had to admit that no, I hadn't. The dinner lady had brought the menu in on two occasions, and on both had never returned. No one had even offered me water bar one very attentive (to my hydration needs) nurse the night before.

He wheeled me to get a sandwich then back up to see our son. It was around 2am when we returned to HD to see my stuff being shipped up and out. I was made to leave and head up back on to Carmen Suit, where I was to be monitored for blood pressure every 8 hours and where my partner could not stay (not even in a private room) and I could not access my son. 'Of course you can', they reassured me 'The NICU is open to parents 24 hours a day'. Note I still could not move.

My partner went home and I was left to my own devices. I asked the night nurse if she could call a porter for me so I could see my son at 6am. 6am came and went. I asked the morning nurse if she could book a porter for 9am. 9am came and went.

No one had an answer as to why one hadn't come and no one offered to find one or assist in anyway.

I eventually pulled myself into the sitting position and fell forward with my feet on the floor. I was hunched at a near 180 degree angle. I made my own way to see my son.

On my return, I was scolded for having left when my blood pressure was due and told I should have waited. (For how long? May I ask? I had been left on my own after major surgery with a son in NICU that I could not see because of lack of care! )

I was also told rather abruptly that I would be moved to Gwillam Ward. I was shipped over and left.

Fortunately I was rebuilding my strength on my own and by the time they waltzed in with my discharge papers, I was able to leave the hell that was my post-natal care, albeit without my son in my arms.

For care that was so astonishingly good pre-nataly and neo-nataly, I will never forget the horrific 84 hours that followed my birth. My partner still to this day cannot talk about it.

I will be using a different hospital next time; hopefully one with better care standards.

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Response from PALS Manager, St George's University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Thank you for taking the time to post feed back about your experience at St. George’s Hospital. We are sorry to learn that it was not up to the standard we would expect for our patients. The service will want to speak to you about your experience and if you are willing to discuss what has happened with a member of the management team, please contact the PAL Service at pals@stgeorges.nhs.uk or on 020 8725 2453 where staff will see what they can do to help. Your comments will be passed to the service.

Your kind comments about the Neonatal unit staff being award-worthy will be sent to the Matron for that service.

Response from St George's Hospital (Tooting)

I am very sorry to read of your experience and dissatisfaction with the post natal care you received and would encourage you to contact the PALS department at St. George’s Hospital if you have not already done so. You can talk to the Patient Advice and Liaison Service about your experience and further investigation can take place, pals@stgeorges.nhs.uk or on 020 8725 2453. Your comments will be sent to the managers of the unit.

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