"Amazing care"

About: Scottish Ambulance Service / Emergency Ambulance Victoria Hospital / Maternity care Victoria Hospital / Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

(as the patient),

Apologies, this is going to be quite the long story but amazing care I have had at the hands of NHS Fife has been brilliant with the pregnancy and birth of my daughter.

At the start of my pregnancy with my daughter I became quite ill with hyperemesis gravidarum and was admitted to the Victoria Hospital maternity ward and MLU (due to the maternity ward being full) twice. The care I received, particularly on the second admission was very good. To the point of the midwife taking care of me taking her shoes off to tiptoe in to my room so she wouldn't wake me when I had eventfully managed to stop vomiting and sleep.

Linburn Health centre also supported me really well during my illness and at points seen me within two hours of phoning for an appointment when I had got particularly ill. Dr McGovern knew how I needed to be treated and even gave advice of what medication I should be given by the hospital and had me admitted quickly and continued to re-prescribe my mediation once I was out of hospital. As the hyperemesis continued through my whole pregnancy her advice over medication made a big difference.

Pauline McQueen as my midwife was supportive and of my birth choices and we felt she got to know us as a couple. Despite being a community midwife Pauline came to visit us in the hospital and ensure she continued to provide support after my baby’s birth became traumatic. I know a couple of people who have had Pauline as their midwife and have been really happy with the support she gives.

When our daughter was born, in a planned home birth, we did not expect our whole world to change so quickly and become so terrifying. Although labour had gone without a problem, with her showing no signs of distress, she was born with her cord around her neck and not making any attempt to breathe by herself. However, although the days following were the scariest of our lives, we came away with some fantastic memories of our time on the Victoria hospital. The staff were all so busy doing such important jobs but took the time and care to look after us as a whole family.

There are so many people who we remember so clearly and want to thank. Unfortunately, we can't remember everyone’s names as there was so much to take in. The small things many of the staff did, as part of their every day jobs, will stay with us for a long time.

The community midwives:

Shona – kept me calm during labour and understood the kind of birth that I wanted and supported that.

Wilma and Pamela – the ladies where brilliant and delivered my baby, suggested positions when I was too tired to think of any more. They also took very quick action to get my daughter breathing when she was born with her cord round her neck. They had also monitored her really well throughout, and there had been no signs of distress. I felt that we were all in safe hands. Both these ladies stayed professional and calm when faced with a really difficult situation. Pamela even made sure I got to kiss my daughter before the ambulance left. Their actions during labour and delivery also meant that my physical recovery also went well.

The Ambulance staff:

The crews that transferred me and my daughter to the hospital were very professional and kind. They stayed calm and explained everything clearly. One of the paramedics, Pete, even came to check up on me and my daughter the following day. Unfortunately we don't know the names of the rest of the crews but we believe one crew came from Cowdenbeath and one from Dunfermline.

In the Special Care Baby Unit at the Victoria Hospital:

- The nurse (red hair) that made us toast on our first morning coming down to see our daughter in the ICU, recognising that we were exhausted and very worried.

- Donna was so lovely, showing us how to care for our baby and encouraging us to take over as much as possible. She was also so protective over the babies and made sure everyone was following the hygiene and safety rules.

- Melanie made us smile by getting our daughter dressed for the first time in to girly clothes. We’ve never been so excited to see a butterfly print! She also helped us have our first cuddles with our daughter when she was two days old. Her friendliness will be well remembered!

- Karen (we think that's the right name! ) calling me down from the maternity ward to try breastfeeding whilst our daughter was wide awake at 4. 30am! Very little sleep had that night but for such a good reason!

- The male doctor (blonde hair) that came up to the maternity ward later that night to explain that our daughter had pulled her cannula out and and that we needed to decide how to feed her. This was done in a gentle way and was so understanding that getting woken by a doctor from the SCBU can be frightening. He also always seemed really happy when she made progress.

- Claire helped by really encouraging our daughter to get better and get off of tube feeding, and by keeping her happy with sucrose when she had her heel pricks. Thanks also for sharing your knowledge on the use of sucrose.

- Dr Ainsworth for taking time to explain complicated medical terminology in an easy to understand way and for being so kind and gentle with our new baby.

- Dr Ruth (not sure of surname) for explaining clearly what was happening and being so positive about all progress.

- Nurse T for letting us get on with caring for our baby without obvious observation in the HDU and letting us feel like normal parents.

- Lynn for taking so much care with us on our baby’s last day in the unit and for keeping me company whilst my husband accompanied our daughter in to her MRI. Hearing all about her sheep kept a worried Mum distracted. We hope lambing went well!

- Dr Thanoon and Dr Li for working so quickly to get us discharged as soon as the MRI results came back through clear. Getting home unexpectedly later that evening was fantastic.

- We also thoroughly appreciated the mylittleone cameras and hope the trial is successful.

On the MLU and maternity ward at the Victoria Hospital:

- Louise on the MLU who held my hand (and didn't flinch once! ) during a manual placental removal and gave me lots of gas and air. After a 17 hour labour with no pain relief…this was very welcome! Louise looked after us so well and showed such compassion because our baby was in the NICU.

- Claire who helped me to express colostrum on the first night. You have a no idea what a difference this has made. My daughter didn't actually breast feed until she was five days old as she was tube fed but is now exclusively breast fed and thriving. Claire also explained the support that was going to be needed from my husband to help make expressing and breastfeeding work and this has helped us settle in at home as a family.

- Lesley on the maternity ward who was really sympathetic and gave great advice for physical recovery after birth.

- Sharon-Ann who made sure we both talked through what had happened to us and let us know support was there in the future. She also made us laugh and provided lots of distraction from the stress of having a baby in the NICU. Constantly catching me in the corridor for a chat to check I was OK. As much as having another baby is not on the cards at the moment, it was good to know that safety precautions would be put in place to avoid any repeat of what happened this time. A character that will be well remembered.

- Jean from the breast feeding support team for giving lots of advice and listening.

Strangely one thing I remember clearly was arriving on the MLU from the ambulance – naked under blankets, bleeding, terrified because I hadn’t seen my baby but having all the staff smile and say hello. At the time I was confused but looking back that was a really welcoming and friendly thing for everyone to do at a scary moment.

On the maternity ward the support the staff gave despite me spending most of my time down on the SCBU was amazing. Making sure I got my painkillers despite missing rounds, making sure I ate meals despite missing meal times, ensuring I seen a doctor despite missing staff rounds, etc. By giving me a private room and allowing my husband to stay for two nights was an incredible support and certainly helped us begin to recover us a family.

I think staff need more recognition of how good they are.

We are so grateful for everyone and to NHS Fife for what you have done for us. We owe you everything.

Thank-you

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Responses

Response from Louise Ewing, Patient Relations Manager, NHS Fife

picture of Louise Ewing

Dear 123abc

Thank you for taking the time out to tell us about your experience which sounds like a rollercoaster ride! I am so glad to hear all went well and I was delighted to hear of all your examples of staff working safely and effectively but showing kindness, care and compassion at every stage of the journey. This is exactly what we want for people and I will take great pleasure in passing this on to the teams you mention, asking them too to share more widely.

Your post demonstrates how important the little things are and the difference these can make. We will make sure to use this to reiterate good practice.

Thanks for sharing and I wish you well in the future.

Kind Regards

Louise Ewing

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Update posted by 123abc (the patient)

Thanks Louise, the staff I dealt with are incredible and will always be remembered. I would be really grateful if they could be recognised for this.

Response from Martin Esposito, Patient Experience Manager, Corporate Affairs and Engagement Department, Scottish Ambulance Service

picture of Martin Esposito

Dear 123abc

Thank you for sharing your story with us. Being a dad, I know that even a ‘normal’ birth with no complications can be difficult and life changing for the whole family, so to add in hyperemesis and a complicated birth, it must have been very traumatic for you all. I am just so glad to hear that you got the care you needed and that it all went well.

Like many of the stories that we hear, your experience also demonstrates the value and importance of person-centred care, kindness and compassion.....simple skills that can make such a big difference.

I will pass your story onto our local management team in the Fife area so they can try and find the find the ambulance crews who attended to you and pass on your feedback.

Take care

Martin.

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