"Helm Chase Maternity Unit is Appalling"

About: Westmorland General Hospital

I am now in the process of leaving Helm Chase Maternity Unit as the care throughout the early stages of my pregnancy has been seriously disorganised and the staff need thorough training in HIV awareness. I am so tired of encountering HIV discrimination at Westmorland General Hospital. I am unsure why I expected anything different from this CCG nor from this hospital given the discrimination and profound lack of dignity and respect I have experienced since the day i was diagnosed with HIV.

The straw that broke the camel's back for me was my 12 week pregnancy scan. This should have been a happy and joyous occasion - however, the sonographer clearly realised I was HIV+ from my maternity notes - and unlike previous scans where they were pleasant and not wearing gloves - on this final occasion they clearly felt threatened by my ""controlled"" condition, wore gloves, and oscillated between ignoring me and barking answers to my questions. I ought to point out that my small year child witnessed this unprofessional behaviour and was worried. The final insult was the "attitude" I encountered when I requested a photograph of my baby. Not only did they speak to me rudely, but then chose the worst "unclear" image from the selection of stills on the monitor to print. It was so evident that they making a value judgement about a women living with HIV having a baby!! This maternity unit needs to educate all staff about the reality of living with HIV in 2016!! Even the guidelines on HIV are outdated! One final point - the receptionists - one in particular - is rude and aggressive. I have not once felt welcomed in the maternity unit. The atrocious attitudes towards HIV now means that I am leaving this unit and finding alternative (and better) antenatal care at a different hospital.

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Response from Westmorland General Hospital

We appreciate you taking the time to let us know about your experiences at Westmorland General Hospital, and are very sorry that these fell well below the high standard that we expect. We would really like to look into this further so we can understand what happened and learn from it so that it doesn't happen for any of our other patients. To do this, we need some further information from you so would ask that you please contact our Patient Relations team on 01539 716621. We hope to hear from you soon. Thank you again.

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