"Treatment for miscarriage"

About: Southmead Hospital / Gynaecology

(as the patient),

Last June I had a silent miscarriage at about 10 weeks. It was my first pregnancy and I'd had spot bleeding for a few days, but the midwife I had been appointed was away on holiday, so I thought I would mention it when I had my first appointment in a couple of days.

Then in the middle of an evening work event, I had a 'call to nature' and to my horror found I was bleeding heavily. I got myself straight home and my husband called NHS Direct as my surgery had closed, and they informed me that I should go to my local early pregnancy clinic at Southmead Hospital the following day, but that I would need a referral. There was nowhere I could go for help that night even though I was bleeding heavily.

Luckily I managed to get a referral first thing the next morning from my doctor, but even this wait was in my view an unnecessary and distressing delay. I was actually seen pretty quickly when I got to the clinic and the receptionist was very sympathetic.

However, the specialist that saw me for the scan was abrupt and unnecessarily rough with me. I had to have a vaginal scan, which was in itself a pretty undignified procedure, but I felt she was not at all gentle (confirmed when I went back for my second scan and had someone else that was much gentler). She confirmed that the gestation sack was empty and that it has stopped forming at about the 6 week stage - a condition known as a 'silent miscarriage'.

She offered me a counsellor, but I was so in shock that I declined, feeling that I needed to take in what happened before seeing anyone for counselling. I was given an appointment for a week later to come back for another scan to check if everything had cleared out.

That was it. I was sent home with no advice about what was to come next. Nothing about the amount of sanitary wear I may need (I ran out within a day!), nothing about pain relief or supplements to replenish my blood count.

My sister-in-law is a nurse and was horrified when she came to visit me 3 days later and found I'd been taking only Ibuprofen through cramping I can only describe as like giving birth. She also recommended I take Iron tablets as I was very white and had lost a lot of blood.

Please, please review the access to early pregnancy clinics. Miscarriages don't just happen between the hours of 9 and 5. They happen in the evening too and at times when it may not be easy to get a doctor's referral. This was easily the most traumatic and distressing experience of my life and I had to wait hours and jump through hoops to get seen by someone who gave me very little support.

It would have been so easy just to take two minutes to give me a bit of advice on what I might be likely to experience, how much sanitary wear to stock up on and how much blood loss is a concern, as well as prescribe pain relief which will be effective for contraction-like cramping.

The care I received from the same clinic a week later was in stark contrast extremely caring, but at the point I really needed help I felt very let down.

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Response from Steven Sykes, Advice & Complaints Team Manager, North Bristol NHS Trust

Dear Temmy,

Thank you for your feedback, we were sorry to hear about your experience and the difficulties you had accessing the clinic and will look to raise awareness about the service and provide feedback to our staff. We are pleased to see that you received compassionate care at your second visit, which is the level of care we aim to provide at all times.

If you wish to discuss your concerns with a member of the team please contact the Midwifery Dept 0117 3235307 and ask for Lisa Marshall, Deputy Director of Midwifery, HON Gynaecology.

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