"Maternity Ward Experience"

About: Glasgow Royal Infirmary / Maternity care

(as the patient),

After being induced and giving birth to my little boy I spent four nights on the maternity ward (can't remember which ward number). During the very long and difficult labour the midwives and doctors I came in contact with were amazing and I can not fault their care at all.

However, it was a different story on the maternity ward. Reasons below:

- During the four nights I were there I never saw the same midwife twice, each and every shift there was a different midwife. Surely for continuity of care it would make sense that the midwifes would spend an amount of time on one ward before moving to the next.

- Each midwife on shift would also give conflicting advice, whether it was about feeding my baby, the care of my baby or my recovery following epidural/forceps.

- Once I had made the very hard decision to formula feed my baby due to baby not latching onto the breast after trying for 2 days and becoming dehydrated, I felt I was then just forgotten and I was not given any advice on how to feed/how much to feed my baby with using the bottle.

- The cleanliness of the toilet and shower was dismal, I understand a hard job to keep up with when there are 6 patients who have just given birth relying on the one toilet. But when in recovery myself and super aware of the importance of good hygiene, cleaning down the toilet and shower prior to using them wasn't something I felt I should be doing.

- I felt one of the midwife assistants was not very approachable or helpful, I was given the third degree when I politely asked if my bed sheet could be changed, which was hardly changed at all during my full stay.

- I felt my dignity was also forever being compromised each morning when the cleaner/food server would walk in around 7am and pull every ones curtains back, without asking first!

- I had no room for my belongings around my bed, I could not get into the cupboard due to the bed being in the way and could not move the bed otherwise I would have been in the next patients space. This also caused the cleaner some annoyance due to my belongings being on the floor and her being unable to clean around my bed properly without me having to lift my belongings onto the bed each time.

- I was given pain killers but never did the midwives explain to me what I was getting and why.

- Why do the midwives want to check you over in the middle of the night and also take the baby away to be checked in the night. I've never heard of other hospitals carrying out this procedure routinely during the night. For example, I was asked to call for the midwife when baby wakes for a feed in the night, so she could take him away prior to feed to be checked. I did what she asked but I guess due to checking other babies, she did not get to me for an hour and by which time I had fed my baby and lay him back to sleep.

I understand services are stretched but I just feel care could be improved if there was continuity of care, better communication between staff and patents and if patient's dignity was considered important by all staff. I hope my story will help you to consider future improvements to the service.

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Response from Lorna Gray, Patient Experience, Public Involvement Project Manager, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

Dear myexperience,

First of all, congratulations on the birth of your baby boy! I'm not sure exactly how long ago your experience was, but I'm sure that regardless it is a very busy time with a new baby and so I appreciate you making the effort to tell us about what your time on the maternity ward was like for you.

You have written in great detail about many aspects of your care, but have summarised really neatly at the end the areas that stand out for me - continuity of care; communication; and privacy and dignity. Some of these are basics that we should be getting right every time (for example ensuring that our communication to new parents is consistent) and some are an absolute standard that we would always expect (ensuring the people in our care are always treated with dignity). I'm sorry that this was not your experience when you were in having your son (although very glad that your experience during labour was much more positive).

Some of the things you have raised here we will be able to address more generally here, but it would be really helpful to us, and hopefully beneficial to you, if we could get a bit more information about when and where you had your baby. This will help us not only to learn from this more generally, but can hopefully target the specifics of what we got wrong on this occasion. If you could contact me directly with a few more personal details, we can take this forward. My email address is lorna.gray@ggc.scot.nhs.uk. I have already sent on to my colleagues in maternity services, so can assure you that regardless, your points have been heard.

I hope to hear from you soon,

With best wishes,


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Response from Coral Brady, Business & Admin Manager, Women & Children's Services, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

picture of Coral Brady

Many thanks for taking time and detailing your experience to our service. As you have already been made aware we would value the opportunity of contacting you to address more specifically some of the points you have raised.

I am sorry you feel that you never saw the same midwife twice and you were cared for by different midwives on each shift. Within the maternity wards staff work within a specific ward area and are allocated mothers to care for within each bed bay and this is followed on to their next shift if they are on duty. This is done to improve and maintain continuity and I am sorry that this was not your experience. We would be keen to explore further the inconsistent and conflicting advice you were given as we would expect the same standard of care and advice from all our staff.

It was disappointing to hear that you did not feel supported and receive the necessary information required when you decided to formula feed your baby. There is a requirement that all mothers receive information prior to discharge to enable them to know how to safely feed their babies. We provide mothers with leaflets and a face to face feeding demonstration to assist in this and also provide mothers with the opportunity to discuss with a member of staff any concerns they have in relation to infant feeding.

In regard to the cleanliness of the toilets and showers these are cleaned throughout the day and monitored by domestic staff and the senior charge midwife. Unfortunately there can be times that unbeknown to staff they have been used and require cleaned. I have requested that the clinical areas put up signs in all toilet and shower areas signposting women that if this is the case a member of staff can attend and clean the area prior to use.

Beds are monitored daily by the midwives and health care support workers and changed if required. It can be difficult at times to find a balance in safely monitoring and caring for mothers and babies within a clinical environment with screens being pulled around the bed alongside ensuring mothers privacy is maintained if they feel this is required. The senior charge midwives have specified that the screens can be used at the mothers and staffs discretion but mother’s permission should be sought and this will be fed back to staff. Staff are also encouraged to reiterate with mothers what medication they are receiving and why and I apologise that this was not your experience.

It would not be routine practice to conduct postnatal or baby checks throughout the night, unless the mother and baby happened to be awake and it was convenient for them. This will be discussed with staff and monitored as babies should not be routinely removed from their mother’s bedside and I apologise that this was your experience.

Many thanks again for your feedback and taking the time to contact us which I stress has been fed back to all our staff, specifically within the postnatal areas. I hope you have now recovered well from your birth and enjoying motherhood with your new baby boy.

Evelyn Frame

Chief Midwife

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