"Horrible maternity experience at St Thomas..."

About: St Thomas' Hospital (London)

This was my first pregnancy and i picked St Thomas due to the good reputation of the hospital. I really wish i didnt now. Firstly my labour was 4 days!! As a result of being sent home 3 times. I was constantly told first labour can be quite long, which i never disputed. But if the nurses would have done their job properly they would have investigated my prolonged labour and found that my babies head was not in the right position to give birth vaginally. There are so many bad points about my labour care at this hospital that i could spend hours writing about, its ridiculous. My baby was then finally monitored at the day unit and they found that his heartbeat was dipping with every contraction, and that is the only reason they admitted me. God only knows what would have happened to him and me if this wasnt the case. I was then given drugs to speed up my contractions, in which my babies heartbeat had stopped for a brief second or two whilst on the monitor. The midwife had to press the emergency button, when a handful of other midwives ran into the room. They then needed to scrape my babies head inside the womb to check the blood from his head and see what level his oxygen was. This is around 10 hours after my waters had broken and my waters were filled with the babies poo, which was obvious signs of distress! I felt like so many things could have been avoided and anyway as a result of the bad lack of judgement i had to have an emergency c-section whilst being completely exhausted. Im suprised i made it through the surgery, seen as my blood plalet count was considerably low also. So after 4 days labour my son was born. Thank God he was healthy. But he was very swollen around his face area, which has gone down now. I knew that it was from all the stress of the labour on him. But it doesnt end there, the after care was utterly disgusting! The room i was put in was pipping hot! Other mothers complained too, the midwive just said its fine. Most of the midwives had no care in the world and took ages to get back to you for things you asked for, including baby milk. I no help getting out bed after my c-section, not even help to pull my baby accross the hall to see the doctor. My sheets werent even changed!. I even developed an infection which i was given antibiotics for but never told what the infection was. Then on my discharge day, i had to wait 8 hours in another room to be discharged, cause they were busy and needed my bed space. Put it this way i would never ever return to have another baby at St thomas. Im highly disappointed and feel lucky to be alive and my baby too.

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Response from Rachael Twomey, Patient Information Lead, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust

I apologise for the hospital’s delay in responding to your comments on the maternity unit and postnatal ward at St Thomas’ Hospital. The issues you have raised have now been investigated by Ms Manjit Roseghini and Ms Sally Trotter, Matrons for the services where these issues occurred. The Matrons have provided this response:

The postnatal ward and maternity unit staff fully understand how vulnerable women may feel during and after childbirth and pride themselves on the support offered to women, their families and their new baby. They recognise the difference that good care can make to the woman’s experience and how this impacts on her relationship with her baby. I am so sorry you did not receive this level of support and that you were made to feel you were a nuisance. The issues you have raised in your review have been discussed with all the staff on in both locations to improve the standard of care provided.

Following internal reviews of the service, staffing levels have been revised since you had your baby and that there are now more midwives on duty. We are also considering increasing the number of MSWs (midwifery support workers) in order to provide additional support.

We apologise that the midwives did not response to your complaint that the room was too hot: this part of the hospital had problems with the heating system in February, which have now been repaired. The ward is also in the process of purchasing fan so that the room temperature is maintained. We encourage patients to keep curtains open to allow the airflow from the vents to circulate which are located by the windows

I apologise for the frustrating delay you had when waiting to be discharged. It is normal practice to go through the discharge pack with a group of women on the ward to use time efficiently and then for your information to be entered into the computer system. However, there are occasions on the postnatal ward where this can be delayed due to the high activity on the ward and this should have been explained to you at the time. We have acknowledged that the process could be much smoother, and the ward sister Ms Murphy is currently working on a project to improve the efficiency of the discharge process.

I understand that you experienced communication from the obstetric team towards yourself as poor and that you were caused unnecessary stress by not being kept informed. The obstetrician in charge of your case would have reviewed you and confirmed if you had an infection by reviewing your blood results. We apologises for not helping you to feel reassured at the time that all was well, and is sorry that you had such a stressful experience.

Your experiences during and after childbirth sound exhausting and frightening. It may be beneficial for you to talk these over with members of clinical (medical or nursing) staff who can help you to understand more about what happened on this occasion. If you would like to speak with either maternity or antenatal staff, please telephone the PALS team on 020 7188 8801, 020 7188 8803 or email pals@gstt.nhs.uk, who will be happy to liaise on your behalf.

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