"Maternity, very very mixed"

About: North Middlesex Hospital

I cannot praise the antenatal care enough. Staff were wonderful from helpful receptionists, midwives who were consistently excellent. Appointments were prompt and there was a culture of respect. Even the midwife who informed me I had gestational diabetes rang me from home on a day off, they in particular gave amazing care. The building itself is excellent.

Women who used it gave similar praise to the birth centre, which also was clean and bright with the best facilities I've seen (third baby).

It's quite hard to equate such a place with the labour ward and postnatal ward upstairs. The culture was very very different and I wont go to North Midd again simply because of the risk of transferring there. How such a different culture can exist in the same building is amazing.

Firstly there was a huge issue with beds, though this looked partly to be through mismanagement. I gave birth at 1am, yet was left on delivery until after 9pm (I wasn't monitored nor was baby, even after GD). The issue was postnatal, one (lovely) midwife was doing the checks for EVERY baby, I had to wait TWO days for my turn in the queue from discharge. No hope of a 6 hour exit here. Bed issues...? Women were trying to leave and frustration was high.

The culture on postnatal was quite callous at times (though a few, particularly 2 student midwives and a supervising midwife had high personal standards and were not part of this culture). Women at night would press buzzers for no answer, or even a mouthful. Midwives woke babies arguing at night about beds, insulting staff in other wards or even hiding empty beds. Items were banged around and staff often went beyond curt. My baby became ill during the time there, only one midwife did baby observations whilst on duty, others simply did not. One night I sat (crying) outside the midwife desk itself for over an hour in after a refusal to see my baby I knew was ill (next day she did need to go to sunrise unit and had an extended stay on antibiotics). I was fobbed off to a staff member (unsure of their role, a helper for midwives?) who openly admitted they couldn't answer. It's quite scary, being locked in a ward (you can't leave at night at all, a ghost town) with no means of contacting anyone (mobile reception here is dire). At night it was rare to see anyone.

Sunrise neonatal unit were wonderful in their care also, so why the postnatal ward sticks out like a sore thumb in an otherwise excellent department is strange...why is it allowed? Is it not recognised?

I could not recommend this hospital because I feel the after care has potential to put babies and mothers at risk, even at home I could have taken my newborn to a GP for help, I was so close to doctors yet denied access repeatedly. Care just disappeared, even down to the 6 week postnatal check after having GD not happening.

I'd recommend for home births or birth centre births, yet noone can be sure they'll get their chosen place...

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Response from North Middlesex Hospital

Thank you for your feedback, especially relating to the post natal ward.

I am head of midwifery services, gslevin@nhs.net and the issues you raised allow me to discuss in detail with my team to ensure these issues do not occur again.

I would like to provide further feedback to you and would welcome an email from you so that we can discuss.

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