"The birth of our son - hip scan "

About: Royal Stoke University Hospital / Maternity care

(as a parent/guardian),

Our son was in the morning at the NHS's North Staffordshire hospital where, from the start, I felt our treatment was horrendous, the attitude we received was disgraceful. It did improve or so we thought until now.

We arrived at the maternity ward around after midnight we're shown to a room and waited for a midwife to check my partner over. What we ended up with was a midwife who's attitude we felt was disgusting. We gave her the information she asked for, time of first show, time waters broke, time of first contraction, time between contraction, length of contraction and location. The midwife's answer to our questions was, "phh, I should do a spectrul but I've been on since 7. 30 pm and I've been none stop. I think you've wet yourself and you can't tell." At that she left us, confused, alone and feeling like idiots for over half an hour.

Once the midwife returned we had decided we weren't leaving without having the spectrul, we were certain that wasn't a case of simply uncontrolled urination. To say we were made to feel awkward for asking to be fully checked over is an understatement. We felt we were spoken to like we were the scum of the earth.

The spectrul was carried out and this confirmed that my partners waters had broken, however no apology given for being spoken to like idiots or treated so frosty for asking for the spectrul.

After the spectrul the midwife did disappear off, we thought to get us all set up for delivery. Whilst we awaited the midwife's return my partners contractions went from 3-4 mins gap with 1 min contraction to 3: 1, 3: 1, 3: 1 like clock work. Once the midwife returned we informed her of this but were returned back to being spoken to like idiots, without being checked we were "no you're not, go home and have a warm bath and some paracetamol. I've booked you in for an induction of labour for tomorrow morning."

We were now feeling dejected, deflected and like a pair of time wasters we left North Staffs for the 40 minutes drive home, for a grim bath and some paracetamol. No more than an hour after getting home things had progressed to agony for my partner with the uncontrollable desire to push. So, we called the hospital explained the full situation and we're told to come in as soon as.

Back at the hospital we were shown to a room and half an hour later my partner was 9 cm dilated and soon after our son had graced us with his presence. The midwives we had from the moment we returned until discharge were fantastic, Amanda and Kate, or so we thought until now.

All the way through from booking in with our community midwife for Cheadle (Staffordshire) area (Claire Nixon who has been fantastic and was all the way throug), to handing over to the health visitor up to the 72 hours old check up, we had mentioned the concern with inherited hyper mobility and the history of birth with dislocated hips; we were assured all the way through that the process was simply carrying out an ultrasound scan on the hips and a simple yes or no outcome with a next step system to resolve any problem.

We were under the impression that at the birthing centre our son was booked in for the scan, we still mentioned it to our community midwife, our local Dr at 72 hrs and to the health visitor all assured us it was a simple process and nothing to worry about, just to await the appointment letter.

The appointment letter arrived in March confirming an appointment for late spring. This was later followed up with a cancellation letter in mid April saying the ward was closed or closing down and a new appointment would be arranged and we would be notified. Late in May we received a new appointment for mid summer. With our fears defused by so many experts and being none the wiser, no one mentioning that after 4 months of age the process changes we were inadvertently content with the date given.

We found out that the process was no longer a simple ultrasound scan but would require our 5 month old son being blasted with an x-ray that would expose him to over a year's worth of normal everyday radiation and put him at a 1: 10, 000 risk a cancer. This may sound low but, it's not the 0% risk of causing cancer that the ultrasound we were expecting to have carried out is. And up until 4 pm on the day of the scan, 20 mins before the scan we were presented with the situation of, it's either the x-ray or risk a hip replacement by aged 20-30 and wheelchair by 40.

When voicing our concerns about why we were told it would be an ultrasound and now it was a x-ray we were taken through the explanation of calcification of the balls and sockets after 4 months old.

When we mentioned we had been bringing up the concern of hyper mobility and dislocated hips for over a year we were told the appointment should have been made at birth but there was no record, there was also no record of the cancellation letter and worse still the subject matter of the cancellation letter was inaccurate.

In summary, we feel that all involvement with North Staffs has had some level of incompetence either via laziness or poor communication regarding appointments and explanation of procedures so we had the option to find an earlier appointment further afield so our son didn't have to be exposed to an increased risk.

The staff at North Staffs are generally polite and courteous (obviously not including one of the previously mentioned midwives) but regrettably, this isn't the hospitality industry it's health care and to have been left with no options but to expose our 5 month old to potentially cancer causing radiation because we had been bounced appointment wise; we are disgusted with North Staffs taking on certain responsibilities of South Staffs as it appears that some of that bad practice has travelled north.

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Response from Nick Clowes, Senior Communications Officer, Communications, University Hospitals of North Midlands

Dear A330tts

I would like to send my sincere apologies to you for your unsatisfactory experience.

What should have been a happy and pleasurable time enjoying a new baby was overshadowed by the events experienced.

If you would like to discuss your midwifery care, I would be happy to meet with you. We do not condone poor staff attitude, as this does both the profession and the Trust a great dis-service. I would welcome the opportunity to investigate this matter, which has led to you not receiving a positive birth experience, further.

The hypermobility issues you outlined should have been documented in the antenatal period and with the paediatricians following delivery. A referral would then have been sent in order to generate an appointment.

Any referral sent by the Maternity Unit is faxed to the appropriate Consultant’s secretary and the reason for referral is documented. Patients are then seen by the relevant consultant, usually within 6 weeks. We do explain that we are sending a referral and that babies normally receive a scan.

It is regrettable that the appointment was subsequently cancelled, which led to a delay in your son’s treatment and a change in the type of investigations required. I can only sympathise with you and assure you that the cancellation of this appointment would be out of the control of the maternity services.

I hope that your son has now received his treatment.

Karen Meadowcroft

Head of Midwifery/Associate Chief Nurse

University Hospital of North Staffordshire NHS Trust

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