"Postnatal care is terrible"

About: Watford General Hospital

Anything else?

In summary, my opinion of this hospital's maternity unit (I can't comment on the rest of the hospital, but its not a good sign) is that the standard of care is close to abysmal.

In our case, the doctors have been so overworked that they have not been available to check on progress until too late at two critical points - during labour and when our baby developed some troubling symptoms 2 days after birth.

The progress of my partner's labour was left unchecked, and we felt almost ignored until too late. A c-section was required on what would I believe otherwise been a healthy natural birth.

The Katherine ward is busy, understaffed and uncomfortable. The equipment is old and unsuitable, the ward is hot and stuffy, and not particularly clean.

Most of all though, the issue lies with the lack of staff.

The ward staff seemed unable to respond quickly to any simple requests. Press the call button and if you were lucky someone would arrive in about 5 minutes, but usually only to say “help is coming in a minute” and of course it takes three or four requests like this and a long time until it finally does.

Requests for painkillers again were very slow, so much so that in one case 2 hours went by from the initial request, despite follow up requests. When the midwife finally arrived she said “Why did you let it get this far without telling us?” Absolutely infuriating!

Amongst the staff there were helpful individuals, especially the Student Midwifes, who are a godsend, and act like the healthcare assistants should do. But of course they are unable to do any of the more serious roles.

Unfortunately our baby developed some symptoms that needed treating.

Initially the staff seemed reluctant to even admit this and call a doctor. Only when the doctor eventually did show up to check the baby, the doctor agreed it should be treated. This was at 2pm, with a check-up at 7pm scheduled to see treatment was working. 7pm came and went and despite regular reminders a test was finally taken at midnight.

When the result came back confirming fears that things had got worse, our baby had to be taken to a special care unit, given a cannula for IV fluids and antibiotics and placed in a special cot for treatment. She is still there now.

I believe missing check-ups by 5 hours when treating newborns is unacceptable.

I cannot help think that if this were caught earlier, it would not have got so bad.

I think any reasonable person would agree that newborns are very vulnerable at this point and getting the right treatment quickly can make all the difference.

If we were not for relying on hospital equipment to treat this condition we would have self-discharged there and then. The standard of care I can deliver to my partner and baby at home is far better than is being provided on the ward.

I know it is fresh in my mind, but I am absolutely disgusted!

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Response from Watford General Hospital

Thank you for taking the trouble and time to comment on your difficult experience at Watford General's Maternity Unit, which we sincerely regret. We’re always concerned to hear of any patients or family members who are unhappy with the care and service they have received, and issues of this nature are taken 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.

We know that our senior clinical colleagues will want to investigate this thoroughly on your behalf, so we can look into what went wrong for you and your partner, 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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