"Second baby after poor first experience"

About: Royal Hallamshire Hospital / Maternity care

(as the patient),

I didn't have a great time when I had my first child at Jessops (see my previous experience “Having a baby at Jessops Wing”). We thought long and hard about going back for our second baby, but after meeting the Consultant Midwife I decided to give it another go – mainly because it's the only realistic option for our family. Overall I thankfully had a better experience having my second child at Jessops when compared to my first. However, there were still some issues that caused concern and in particular my discharge from hospital was a shambles.

The good points:

I felt my concerns were listened to during the course of my antenatal care and in general were taken seriously by the community midwives and by the Consultant Midwife.

It was also clear that most staff involved in our care read the details of my previous experiences and my concerns and I feel that some important steps were taken (for instance I was given a side room throughout my stay in hospital, which was greatly appreciated)

I had a successful VBAC delivery, which is what I wanted and managed to have immediate skin to skin contact with my son and successfully managed to breastfeed him. This was a much better experience than I had with my first son, who I never manage to successfully breastfeed due to lack of skin to skin contact and due to him being given formula from two hours old.

The bad points:

The day before I was admitted, I attended daycare due to reduced foetal movements. Whilst I was there I mentioned to the midwife that I had some fluid leaking from me and I questioned whether my waters might have broken. She instantly dismissed this and said it was stress incontinence because I had a bad cough. She did not investigate this any further before coming to this conclusion. The leaking continued and the following day I spoke to my community midwife who sent me back to Jessops for further investigations. It was then confirmed that my waters had indeed broken. It was very concerning that the midwife the previous day had just assumed that because I had a cough that my waters had not broken and it is lucky for her that I happened to have an appointment with the community midwife the very next day.

Everything seems to take forever to achieve at Jessops! For instance, on being admitted, I was left waiting in triage for over three hours whilst a bed was found. Another lady waiting on triage with me was left waiting for over five hours. No one kept us updated and we only received updates on why there was a delay when we chased for it.

Staff kept changing the amount of time I could be left before being induced. The midwife in triage said 36 hours after my waters breaking. I didn't see a doctor until 38 hours, and she said there were no rooms on the labour ward and it was ok up to 48 hours. We asked if that meant I would definitely be induced by 7am the next morning (which would have been 48 hours) and she said it depends if there's a room available - which seemed to imply they would have left me longer than 48 hours!

At 4am the day after I was admitted the ward midwife came to tell us the good news that a room was available on labour ward. So we were taken down, expecting to be induced asap. The midwife on the labour ward told us I had to see the doctors before being induced and they would be along to see me “soon”. The hours ticked by. Every hour we kept asking what was happening only to be told, we're still waiting for the doctors. At 8. 30am the midwife who had just come on shift came to say hello. We explained we had been waiting to be induced for over 4 hours and had still not seen the doctors and didn't know what was happening. She went to speak to the doctors who decided they didn't need to see me first and the induction could be started. Why move me to labour ward in the middle of the night if nothing is going to be done until after 8. 30am – I could have got more sleep! !

After the birth, when I was back on the ward, whenever I asked for anything it took forever for it to be sorted. The excuse every time was “we're in handover”. It didn't seem to matter what time of the day or night it was, the delay was always because the staff were in handover. For instance, I asked for some nipple cream because I was getting sore. The person who answered the buzzer said she'd “try” and fine me some but they were in handover so it wouldn't be straight away. An hour and a half later she'd not returned and I assumed she had forgotten, so I buzzed again. The same person came back and said she hadn't forgotten but they were still in handover! ! I waited another hour and a half and buzzed again, this time she returned and said she couldn't find any cream and that they don't have it in. I have a couple of problems with this – firstly, that it took around 3 hours for me to be told there was no nipple cream and secondly – a maternity hospital that doesn't have nipple cream available! ! What is that about? Aren't they meant to be encouraging women to breastfeed? God help you if you have sore nipples though because there may be no cream available. I ended up calling my partner and asking him to buy some from Boots to bring in the following day.

I feel my discharge from the hospital was a joke. In the morning I asked if I could go home and they said they didn't see why not, they just had to sort a few things out and then I could go. I explained that we have an older child who had been staying with grandparents for the past three nights and he wanted to go home and as such we wanted to get home for late afternoon at the latest so that we could spend some time with him before his bedtime. They said this wasn't a problem.

By lunchtime, no one had been to see us about discharging us, so we asked again. What do you know, they were in handover, so we'd have to wait! ! We asked again at about 2. 30pm and finally they came with the discharge info and my medication. I called my mum to tell her she could come and pick us up. She arrived half an hour later, had to park on double yellow lines as there was nowhere else to park and she and my partner took all our things down to the car.

It was at this point that a student midwife came to do my obs and said there was a problem with my blood pressure and that I would have to stay in another night. I said I wouldn't be as I needed to get home for my other child and we were already half way out of the door. She went to get the qualified midwife, who said that I couldn't leave because my blood pressure was too high. When I was admitted I had high blood pressure, but in the intervening three days from being admitted to being discharged nothing had been said about my blood pressure being a problem. I highlighted this to the midwife and questioned why it had not been mentioned until we were literally leaving. She said it hadn't been a problem until now. This turned out not to be true. After I got home I asked the community midwives about what my blood pressure had been like in hospital and on looking at the chart they said it was high for almost all the time I was in hospital.

I was very upset at being told I couldn't go home and I told the midwife that I would be much better at home, I was already on betablockers to control my migraines and they would have the added benefit of lowering my blood pressure. She kept saying I couldn't leave and needed to wait and have my BP done again in an hour. I explained that this would upset our other little boy who had now been told he could go home and that my mum was currently parked on double yellow lines outside the hospital and had already been there some time. The midwife then became quite melodramatic, saying that if I left now I could have a seizure or a stroke and that the last woman who left with high BP had died. This just upset me all the more and I said that the only reason my BP was high was because I was in hospital and wanted to go home. I was very upset by this point and told her there would be no point doing my BP again because it would be sky high. I said I wanted to discharge myself and she said she would have to speak to the doctors.

There was again an unacceptable wait whilst she tried to find the doctors. After around 20 minutes we buzzed for the midwife and she returned saying I would have to sign papers saying I was discharging against medical advice. I said that was fine and asked where to sign, but she didn't have the papers ready. So we waited again.

Another 20 minutes went by and this time I ended up going to find the midwife myself to sign the papers. I found her in the office, with all the rest of the staff, yes, doing handover! ! I told her I wanted to go home now and she said she was doing handover and that they do have 30 other women to look after (to which my response would be, “how do you manage that considering you ALWAYS appear to be in handover”).

I ended up standing right outside the office door, with my baby in my arms. Every member of staff who came past asked if I needed help and I told them I was waiting to go home and had been waiting too long. They all went into the office and didn't return. Eventually I told the third person to ask that if I didn't get the papers to sign straight away then I would just leave without signing them, after all, it didn't matter to me if they weren't signed. What a surprise, after this, the papers instantly materialised and I finally got to go home!

My question for Jessops is why do staff always appear to be in handover? It's ridiculous and actually leads to patients receiving really poor care because staff never seem to be available to actually care for patients – instead, they're just sat in an office talking about them.

Also, you need to really improve communication with patients. Why wasn't I told that my BP was an issue earlier? Why was I told I could go home when my BP was already an issue? Why was it left until I was half way out of the door before it was raised? Why did the midwife then deal with it so badly? Poor communication was something I had a major problem with following the birth of my first child and it doesn't seem to have improved much since then.

It's also worth noting that the hospital regularly tells women waiting for induction that there are no rooms available on labour ward and their induction is delayed. I know someone who waited nearly 4 days in hospital waiting to be induced, constantly being told this and she too had a terrible experience at Jessops. They told us we had to wait for a room as well. However, when we were on labour ward, my partner came and went a few times to get himself something to eat, etc and he commented that there were loads of rooms available on the ward – in fact on our part of the corridor, our room was the only one in use (the others had the doors open, so he could see they were empty). So I don't believe for a second that they don't have enough rooms – I believe it is a lack of midwives that is the problem.

Overall, there was a definite improvement (in particular antenatal care was much improved - in my first pregnancy we were often seen up to two hours late, but this time we were barely kept waiting at all), but there are still some major issues at Jessops and I get the feeling that women are just expected to put up with it. I didn't bother complaining this time, because so little came of it last time. I also don't intend having any more children so hopefully my dealings with Jessops are over.

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Response from Deborah Hopkinson, Patient Experience Co-ordinator, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Congratulations on the birth of your baby I hope that you are both doing well.

I was so sorry to hear about your poor experience, particularly after your first experience, although I note that you have given a balanced view of the positive changes that have been put into place since the first birth.

Clearly, however, your recent experience is not the standard that we would wish for our patients. Your comments have been escalated to senior staff within the Unit. However, we do not have any personal details for you to look into this as an individual case.

If you wish to raise this as a formal complaint matter and receive a personal response from our Chief Executive, please can you contact our Patient Services Team by telephoning 0114 271 2400 or emailing them at pst@sth.nhs.uk and they will be pleased to assist.

Kind regards.

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Response from Deborah Hopkinson, Patient Experience Co-ordinator, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Response from Jessop Wing

Congratulations on the birth of your son and thank you for taking the time to feedback on your birth experience during what must be a busy time for you and your family. Although we are not able to identify your care in order to respond on an individual basis, we do fully understand your concerns and respect your decision to use this forum to share your birth experience at the Jessop Wing with other service users.

Thank you for raising the issues which have affected your overall experience. They are valid points and your feedback will be shared with the Matrons and maternity staff in all areas to develop and improve further on the current work streams.

Thank you for your positive comments regarding the care you have received following the birth of your son. We offer our heartfelt congratulations at achieving a vaginal birth after caesarean section (VBAC) and successfully breast feeding having had immediate skin to skin contact with your son.

In order to offer reassurance that your concerns are taken seriously we would like to take this opportunity to discuss your concerns further. If this is something you feel would help, please do not hesitate to contact Patient Services Team by telephoning 0114 2712400 or emailing them at

pst@sth.nhs.uk and they will be pleased to assist.

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