"Maternity Mayhem"

About: Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital / Maternity

(as the patient),

I am a proud mother to an 8 week old little boy, who made his appearance into the world via the NNUH maternity services. His entrance was stressful, complicated and a mixed bag of emotions with a mixed level of care, so I thought I'd highlight the good and the bad.

It started with a long stay on Cley ward after being admitted for an induction which unfortunately, didn't get anywhere. I was lucky in that I was admitted before they begun closing the ward to new inductions due to sheer overcrowding and lack of staff. Anyone would begin to feel a little overwhelmed after 4 days/nights on the same ward with no progress and on a couple of occasions I broke down, but the midwives on duty were just wonderful in their care; in particular Mary, Trudie and a truly remarkable young student midwife named Alex. I want to draw attention to these in particular as they looked after both myself and my worried partner with respect and diligence, and I never got chance to thank them enough.

What I will say, is that, in my experience, the doctors are virtually nowhere to be found; I spent days wasting time and taking up valuable bed space because my induction was not progressing and yet they couldn't get hold of a doctor. I understand priority goes to the delivery suite and emergencies, of course, but the maternity services are so badly understaffed. The poor staff do the best with what they have but they need help! As it happens my consultant, Ms Haestier, was head and shoulders above any other consultant I've ever experienced but the department needs more like her.

Unfortunately the experience ended in a c-section; I can not in any way fault the wonderful theatre staff who prepped me for this as they were so lovely and did everything they could to lessen my anxiety. I only wish I could remember the name of the lovely lady who supported and chatted to me throughout the procedure- I only remember she was welsh and from swansea! But she deserves the recognition for her level of patient care.

My experience on Blakeney is where things begun to turn particularly downhill for me. In my experience, some of the maternity care assistants are downright rude and unpleasant and one was particularly rough as she handled my catheter bag - and actually caused me a great deal of pain. I also became very unwell after the section and began to lose a lot of blood, which led to me losing consciousness in bed. And yet, there were no doctors to be found and shortly thereafter I was STILL having care assistants and the like trying to force the baby onto the breast. A) I was barely conscious and B) He wasn't latching as he was suffering from low blood sugars himself, which I'm amazed wasn't picked up sooner. He was then taken off to NICU in a hurry as a result, but I felt almost bullied by the staff for not being able to breastfeed him at that time. I know most maternity services have the same agenda, but a little compassion wouldn't go amiss. Furthermore, having had a lot of blood loss, I was then taken back to surgery the next day for another procedure another general to try and stop it. I hadn't been back on the ward long when a care assistant was being very forceful in me getting up out of bed before I was capable, and very rude when I told her I didn't feel ready. So, I tried- and lo and behold I bled all over the floor and lost whatever dignity I had left.

I can't fault the midwives. At all. They are very compassionate, wonderful staff members and most of them actually ended up working longer than their shifts. The student midwives inparticular are the standouts to me and I only wish I'd thanked them more. In particular a young lady named Jill, I believe, who was prepared to help me shower and gain back some of my dignity after a horrible few days. But your maternity care assistants need more training on how to approach women who have a) just given birth and b) ended up having a haemorrhage because being rude and abrasive doesn't help matters.

My final note is around the NICU, after my poor baby spent several nights there. Superb staff, caring and compassionate and empathic, and wonderful facilities. IN the months to come I will hopefully fundraise for the unit as I don't know where we'd both me without it.

It was overall a mixed experience and what is painfully obvious is that the wards are far too small and understaffed for the sheer volume of women they have to cater for. The hospital/trust really needs to invest in these services and support the midwives who do the very best they can. Your maternity care assistants need a talking to, as well, and although there is an 'open curtain policy', it's not fair to keep ripping open the curtains of someone unwell who can barely get out of bed and kept bleeding all over herself and the floor! ! I was hardly a security issue by having the curtains closed to protect my dignity- just a thought.

Hopefully by the time number two might come along, the services will be better equipped and the poor staff given some more help!

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Response from Janice Bradfield, Senior Communications and Membership Manager, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Dear Patient

Thank you for taking the time to tell us about your experience of our maternity services and the neonatal unit. We hope you are feeling better after a long and difficult birth with complications. We will ensure that the Head of Midwifery receives your feedback and sees the issues you have raised about healthcare assistants, plus the importance of privacy and dignity at such as difficult time. If you would like to get in touch and discuss these issues in more detail, please contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service in the first instance on pals@nnuh.nhs.uk

Kind regards

Janice Bradfield

Senior Communications Manager

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