"Copy of letter I sent to C&W on ..."

About: Chelsea & Westminster Hospital

(as the patient),

What could be improved? Copy of letter I sent to C&W on Feb 1st 2009 - and still no reply!... Dear Sir/Madam, I am writing to let you know about my experience of the poor state of your maternity unit. I realise that I am writing somewhat after the event, but that is partly as I was trying to forget about some of the negative experiences. However, I am now pregnant again, so am hoping that by highlighting some areas that C&W could improve, I and others will have a much better experience next time. I gave birth to a little boy at 07.11am on 22nd June 2007. When I arrived at the hospital (aprox 4am) there was no one to meet me or in sight. Indeed my husband had to run around the ward to try and find someone, whilst I was still having strong contractions. Eventually our midwife arrived, and I cannot fault her. However, the room we were shown to was dirty. Not just normal dirt – but there was someone else’s blood on the floor and even on the sheet, which I ended up having to give birth on.. The ward was too busy – so nowhere else was free. I believe they went from very quiet to very busy in a couple of hours. Luckily my mother was also with us and has a PhD in physiology, so partly medically trained. She ensured that my “lower half” was kept as hygienically clean as possible i.e., not touching the obviously dirty bed. She went out and got lots of the “mats” and constantly replaced them. I believe if my mother had not been there, there would have been a high risk of infection – and another mother/child may not be as lucky as I was to not get infected. After the birth, which was a long labour – 3 days with no sleep, I was then told by a different midwife, that I had to “hurry up” and get to the post natal ward, as there were only 2 beds left. I could hardly walk/move but was made to rush there. They even made my mother leave, despite her being my birth partner, with my husband – as it was against the “rules.” Of course rules are necessary – but people Anything else? need treating as people too. Lastly, during the birth, my midwife did press the emergency button, as she thought my son would not come out without help and she had wanted to cut me – but the room was not properly equipped – and there was no anaesthetic. No one came. Luckily, he did come out eventually, unassisted. I realise that the birth unit gets busy, and money is always stretched within the NHS. But basic thorough cleaning of every room after every birth, should be expected as an absolute minimum. Equally, having not enough staff to cover the number of women giving birth, should also be addressed. Often giving birth (in an ideal world) is one of the only times you would have to go to hospital and being met with understaffing and hygiene issues seems wrong. I am not alone in my experiences of C&W. NB: In case you are wondering why I am still coming to C&W for my current pregnancy, it is because I was told that I could no longer choose St Thomas as my GP’s surgery has been told it is not in the catchment area – although other GP’s surgeries near me are, and I was last time. I look forward to hearing from you regarding the changes you propose to implement or if you are able to influence me being allowed to go to St Thomas, this would be much appreciated. I hope that by writing this will help to make improvements for all women at C&W at this life changing time.

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