"Disgusting environment for new mother and baby"

About: Croydon University Hospital

We were forced to attend the hospital for the birth of our first child. During a difficult and long labour we were advised that we could book a room where I could stay with my wife and there would be a bed for me to sleep in for a charge of over £130 per night. I had been awake for 48 hours so needed this as I had to drive to the hospital and wanted to get home safely so booked this. When we were shown to the room after the birth there was no bed, just a black plastic armchair. They were removing the standard hospital bed in the room as we arrived. When I complained about this I was made to feel I was being difficult and kept waiting for over 30 minutes whilst they found a shared room for my wife as I refused to pay so much money for no bed. When we were eventually moved to a shared room I noted that we were placed with three other mothers despite their being at least four other rooms with only one or two mothers. The conditions in this room were shocking due to the lack of hygiene and supervision. We felt we had been placed there to punish us. One family was left to bring numerous cooked meals that were consumed by the four to six family members at all hours. Their food smelt disgusting and filled the ward with very pungent odours that no-one sought to remove and made my wife feel very sick. When I left the room my clothes stank and I had to change them daily. The same family permitted their children to look round the curtains surrounding my wife's bed removing any privacy and making her feel horribly uncomfortable. Another family had visitors late at night who were permitted to watch football on their laptop with the volume very high into the early h ours of the morning preventing all in the room from sleeping. One of their male visitors frequently opened the curtain surrounding my wife's bed to look in. During one night we were horrified to find a large party happening in one of the private rooms that spilled over into the corridor. Despite this being late at night no one intervened to quieten them or contain them in their room At least ten people were seen shouting loudly in the corridor outside the wards. We felt we were in hell and being punished for complaining about the misinformation we had been given. The Staff Nurse on duty was noteworthy for their failure to deal with any of this, spending their time sitting in their office chatting to other staff. Also to note was the filthy condition of the room and bathrooms. One poor cleaner came and tried to do their best with a mop but was treated with clear contempt by the Staff Nurse. The toilets were left filthy with toilet paper and urine on the floor. The sanitary ware was stained and clearly poorly maintained.

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Response from Croydon University Hospital

We are sorry to hear about the experience that you and your wife had with us, and we are particularly concerned about the points that you raise around hygiene and privacy on the unit. While the shared rooms on our post-labour ward are understandably busy with families visiting new arrivals, we have clear policies in place to ensure that the privacy and dignity of the women we care for is maintained. We will look into the issues that you raise and, if you would like to contact our PALS and Complaints team we can keep you informed of our progress; any further information you may wish to give us can also be used as part of our investigation. The team can be contacted at complaints@croydonhealth.nhs.uk or on 020 8410 3352.

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