"Overheating on Watford maternity ward"

About: Watford General Hospital / Maternity

(as the patient),

I have just given birth at Watford maternity hospital. I am currently being 'looked after' on Katherine ward but it is a worrying and torturous experience.

This is my 4th child, and due to moving around, my 4th different hospital so I know what to expect. Watford is far and away the worst maternity care I have ever experienced.

My elective caesarean went well enough. I felt the consultant and anaesthetist were caring and attentive as were many of the midwives. I had a haemorrhage and lost 1.5 litres of blood so was considered high risk.

Unfortunately there was no bed for me so I was left in a recovery bay under aggressive strip lighting and was told I'd have to stay all day and all night under these glaring lights. There was no flexibility at all, no attempt to let me sleep and the staff said it was impossible to put the light off or even dim them.

I spent the first day of my daughters birth pleading, begging and getting very upset, I was ignored, yet as soon as the shift changed, the midwife saw how unacceptable it was and put the light off no problems. Why the earlier staff couldn't have been more accommodating I don't know.

I was eventually moved to Katherine ward and that's when the real problem began. As I was wheeled into the ward, it was like being wheeled into an oven. The room temp got as high as 31 degrees. I'm in it now and it's unbearable. I asked the midwives and have been told this is the correct temperature yet it obviously isn't. I've been made to feel like a pest for even mentioning it, yet it's obviously not. Occasionally a midwife will come in and say its too hot, but walk out again.

The paediatrician came to see my baby today and said it was way too hot and that it was making her feel sick. She's told me to put my baby to sleep in just a nappy and open the window. Despite this, still nobody will do anything about the temperature of the room. I'm finding it unbearable to sleep.

I see from other posts that complaints have been made before about the sweltering heat and Watford have sent their same irritatingly generic response saying they're investigating it, so I will be annoyed if I get that same response as it should already be investigated.

I feel the unit is understaffed. I'm told only 1 doctor is here today for the whole of maternity. Yesterday they were worried about my baby's breathing and the paed wanted hourly obs done on her and possibly a trip to SCBU. Another doc was supposed to see her last night. It's now 7am and I'm still waiting.

The cleanliness of the facilities are disgusting. There is currently a used sanitary towel in the patients toilet. Its been there since yesterday. The chart on the wall for the toilets 2 hourly checks is barely filled in.

I should be enjoying my newborn but instead I'm sat here unable to sleep due to the sweltering heat, worrying about her overheating and not being given the follow up examination promised and just despairing of my decision to ever come to Watford.

The doctors have been lovely (but are scarce and overworked) and there are some caring midwives, but they will urge you to complain, because they are as worried about this hospitals policies and protocols as we are.

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Response from Watford General Hospital

Thank you for taking the time to comment on your, regrettably, frustrating experience with our maternity service at your time of writing. We sincerely apologise that you were left with such a negative impression from your time with us. In the first instance, we must re-emphasise that as NHS Choices is a public website, we remain committed to preserving patient confidentiality, and cannot go into specifics here. Nevertheless, issues of this nature will always be taken very seriously. Our Women’s and Children’s division are currently overseeing a significant service redevelopment to both the antenatal and postnatal inpatient service areas at Watford General. We have recognised that women need different levels of care and have redesigned the new services to facilitate this need, including the temperature and appropriate staffing. We will forward your comments onto the managerial team for their consideration. In the meantime, if you are willing to formally complain about your hospital experience, we would encourage you to contact us directly at wherts-tr.complaintsteam@nhs.net From your account, it is clear that our senior clinical colleagues will want to 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 for other patients if we can. We will aim to thoroughly investigate these issues promptly, and provide you with a detailed response.

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