"NICU - inconsistencies in care; poor observation of infection protocols."

About: East Surrey Hospital / Maternity

(as a parent/guardian),

My daughter was born prematurely. After a stint at St. Peter's, (they had a category 3 unit compared to the Cat 2 at ES), she was finally moved to ES. As this is a lot closer to home we were ecstatic. Her arrival at ES had been delayed by the HA-MRSA acquired at St. Peter's and her swabs had found her free of MRSA. Once in the unit the doctor decided that my daughter should start bottle-feeding exclusively. There were some desats caused by straining, poor trace, etc but nothing major. The nurses had other ideas and insisted she was too young and took it upon themselves to do alternate feeds, (one by tube, one by bottle). Quite apart from being counter to Doctor's orders it also meant that our daughter was no closer to getting sent home because there needed to be evidence that a feeding tube was not required for at least 24 hours. How does that happen if it's being used every other feed? It was very frustrating and we had to intervene via the doctor. Nurse's were saying they simply didn't have time to bottle feed all of the babies under their care so a tube was more convenient. Not acceptable. Our daughter was eventually permitted to be moved to a cot - something which my partner was delighted with. She had hated seeing all the tubes and wires. Meanwhile, another baby had been diagnosed with an infection related to e-coli. She was being barrier nursed, so the hospital was already aware of this infection when one of the nurses handled the baby without any barrier at all, (no gloves or gown), and without washing her hands afterwards she then handled our baby and guess what? Another hospital acquired infection - specifically a colonisation in my daughter's bowel. Nothing they could do, (well, they could have washed their hands but it was too late now). Our daughter had to be moved back to the incubator having spent all of three hours in the cot. My partner was devastated. Because of her desats they decided on conducting a sleep study. A 24 hour observation of her desats to see what was causing them. This was all designed to determine whether she would need home oxygen. My partner was there for the majority of those 24 hours and saw no one observing our child when she had her desats, (e. g. in an 8 hour period her desats were caused by bad trace or straining/bottle feeding). Nevertheless, a decision was made based purely on questionable data that oxygen was the way to go. I do question the efficacy of this 'study'. My daughter is still in this unit and just today the Dr tried to take her off the thickener which was in the milk to stop her choking as she had been on it 'for her reflux and had been on it for weeks'. We had to correct him on his facts as she had only been introduced to thickener 3 days before and was on it to stop her choking not for reflux. If we hadn't been there to stop him what other complications would they have caused our daughter? Thankfully a nurse was listening and has told us she will ensure the current regime will hold.

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Response from Bill Kilvington, Assistant Director for Women and Children's, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust

Dear Bluprint

I am sorry to hear of your experience and I would welcome the opportunity to discuss your concerns - this is certainly not the standard of care you should expect.

Could you email me on bill.kilvington@sash.nhs.uk

Thank you for raising this, it really helps us to address situations where standards are not as they should be

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