"Degrading postnatal care."

About: Watford General Hospital

What I liked

Antenatal and post-op care was great. I had elective section for breech presentation. During surgery my fantastic anaesthetist explained everything clearly and gave running commentary which made the procedure feel less like an operation and more like a delivery of a baby.

Midwives who looked after me on delivery suite post-op were attentive and friendly.

What could be improved

My experience of the maternity ward went downhill after transfer to post natal on Katherine Ward.

The ward was extremely hot - it was around 33 degrees and opening windows while possible was supposedly not permitted. It was also extremely busy - midwives on duty at night took ages to answer the phones or requests for assistance, the impact of this being difficulty sleeping due to constant noise (whether from the ringing or babies crying while mothers waited for assistance). My baby slept on me as I could not wait 5-10 mins each time he cried in his cot for someone to bring him to me.

Midwife who turned up at 11pm to remove catheter was unfriendly and somewhat rude, claiming hospital policy to leave it for 12hrs only. Why have hard rule when so understaffed that midwives simply cannot support mother after c-section to get out of bed?

Due to how busy ward was, waited ages for pain relief on first night. Initially only offered paracetamol +codeine, had to request oramorph (only knew it existed as anaesthetist mentioned previously). On subsequent occasion diclofenac offered, and then missed on next round as not prescribed in notes!

On morning of discharge told that needed to get sign off from doctor for take home meds. Unfortunately there is only one doctor, and a very busy ward. Was not discharged until 5pm despite being ready since 10am.

On day of discharge had to wait

Anything else?

The post-natal ward is woefully understaffed and it feels like midwives want you to see this and complain.

Friends who have used the ABC have had great experience - perhaps the staffing on the midwife led unit is better?

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Response from Watford General Hospital

Thank you for taking the trouble and time to comment on your differing experiences within Watford General's Maternity Unit. Although we’re pleased to hear of your fantastic antenatal and post-op care, we’re concerned to hear of your postnatal experience. Naturally, we take issues where any patients or family members are unhappy with the care and service they have received very seriously.

Without full details of your specific case it is difficult to comment. But the importance of a wholly positive patient experience is one of our key objectives, and the issue of communication between our staff and patients is a fundamental area we’re working hard to improve in. Watford maternity unit is currently undergoing service redevelopment to both the antenatal and postnatal inpatient service areas. We have recognised that women need different levels of care and have redesigned the new services to facilitate this need.

In the meantime, we know that our senior clinical colleagues will want to thoroughly investigate your concerns, so we can look into what went wrong for you and why. Apart from giving you some answers, if would also help put things right if we can. Therefore if you are willing to do so, please contact us directly at wherts-tr.complaintsteam@nhs.net . We will aim to thoroughly investigate these issues promptly, and provide you with a detailed response.

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