"Staff shortages and increased workload evident"

About: Southend Hospital

My wife was recently in the care of the Maternity Services at the hospital and i'm afraid to say that we breathed a sigh of relief when we were discharged. We went to MB2 for an Elective C Section (following 1 emergency and 2 previous elective) arriving at 8am. Information was very scarce re when we would be taken to theatre, once the consultant came to see us he was hopeful it would be before 12pm. 12pm came and went and no one was able to let us know what was going on. Neither myself or my wife had been able to have any refreshments (her due to surgery and me due to not knowing when we would be taken to theatre). Our daughter was finally delivered shortly before 2pm. The "process" of going into theatre, through the operation and into recovery and back on to the ward was as we had expected (and previously experienced). All the staff involved were very nice and friendly. Once we got back on to the ward there didnt seem to be many staff around at all and those that were, were always busy. As we have been through the same thing before we knew what we were doing and my wife continued to breast feed on demand and i changed our new daughters first nappy. If we had been first time parents, i'm sure the lack of staff around would have given us some cause for concern. The rest of the day continued in the same way and i left that evening satisfied that everything was ok and we had done everthing right (despite very few checks from the staff). When i arrived back in the morning, my wife was feeding our daughter again and said she had a resonably good night with her with a few feeds and much needed sleep. The day shift then expressed concern that our baby hadnt had a long feed overnight, something not dealt with at the time by night staff. My wife was unable to see a clock from her bed and hadnt been keeping a log of the feeding times! The day continued and my wife was seen and discharged, a pediatritian discharged our daughter but the midwife was still concerned she hadnt fed enough so we had to keep a log of all feeding times (no staff around to verify/check). She was unwilling to let us go home despite us giving her the log as she was too busy to check baby was feeding ok. 1 midwife was telling us not to wake baby for feeds, another was telling us to do so! When the night shift arrived i was getting a bowl of water for nappy change and overheard the handover and the night shift blaming my wife in a derogatory tone for not waking baby (despite not being able to see a clock or being made aware of expectations). Night shift checked baby was feeding ok for a couple of hours (whilst not being able to check and contradicting herself and other staff) and then we were finally discharged at 11pm. The lack of consistency in care and attitudes of staff made it an experience we will not be repeating. Satisfaction surveys carried out at the time by, and whilst under care of the staff, make it impossible to give a valid negative response for fear of repercussions.

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Response from Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Many thanks for your feedback. I was truly sorry to learn of your experiences and that you felt that if you made any negative comments that there would be repercussions. I would like to reassure you that would not have been the case and we truly would like to look into your experiences for you and it may help you to talk to one of our senior midwives who offers a de-briefing service for new parents who have had a poor experience. If this would help you then please contact me at the following e-mail address: pet@southend.nhs.uk and I will make the necessary arrangements for you.

Steve McEwen

Patient Experience Lead

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