"Unrealistic targets and working hours put care..."

About: Leighton Hospital

I decided to give birth at Leighton Hospital as it had been rated Number 1 in the UK, which of course gave me great confidence in the service. I have been on here several times before to praise the hospital, however this is sadly not the case this time.

I had a c-section in October, from here things went down hill. I was given a nose swab before the operation and I was not a carrier of MRSA. On day one I had cellulitis above my wound, I was given antibiotics which cleared it up. I was then released from hospital after nearly a week. After my release however I had another wound infection and two UTI's (I was sticking to a hygienic routine) I continued to have issues and eventually after nearly three months I was diagnosed with MRSA. Having then had additional swabs taken, it turns out that I am now a carrier. My life has been turned upside down by this and I am living a nightmare. I am currently trying to rid my body of this, but it is proving very difficult, especially with a baby. I am also concerned for what now lies ahead for us health wise. I don't want to pass this on and I am desperately trying not to, but it is very difficult. I have to say though that the ward was very clean, and so

I must have contracted MRSA during the operation.

To add to this I feel that the pressure to breastfeed is just too intense. After surgery myself and my baby just couldn't make it work, we tried for nearly a week, but it just wasn't happening. On the second day my baby became jaundice. I wanted to express my milk for him, but was constantly pressurised to put him to the breast, which just didn't work, even with every Midwife trying to stick him on there. Eventually after 4 days I was given a breast pump and the jaundice cleared up. I have been expressing milk ever since for a healthy and happy baby. To me it didn't matter how he got the milk, as long as he got it. In my room many women were struggling and often left in tears, feeling like failures and unable to provide for their little ones. It is not an easy thing to do and I think that there should be a little more support rather than just pushing mothers while trying to meet targets.

Having said that, staff are brilliant and I understand that unrealistic targets mean that they are understaffed and over worked. I know that they work very hard and that as a country we are very, very lucky to have the NHS. It's an incredible service that saves lives, what could be more important? I just feel that ithe pressure and long working hours that are forced onto staff is why sometimes things fall short and this puts both staff and patients at risk. This is a very unfair and dangerous situation.

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Response from Leighton Hospital

I would like to thank you for taking the time to give us feedback as we are very committed to improving the experiences of families choosing to have their care with us.

I am saddened and concerned to hear that you felt the pressure to breastfeed was “just too intense”, We are a fully accredited Baby Friendly Facility which means that we have been assessed as having excellent policies, staff training and that evidence based care is delivered to all our mothers and babies.

Whilst there is ongoing monitoring of statistics in relation to infant feeding we are more concerned with the whole patient experience.

We have an infant feeding team that are committed to ensuring best practice within Infant feeding as a whole not just breastfeeding. The support and education of mothers who have chosen to formula feed is given as high a priority as those that have chosen to breastfeed. We also acknowledge that mother and baby dyads all have differing needs and so one approach will not suit all. I would absolutely agree with you that your baby receiving your milk was the desired outcome regardless of the means by which this happened but can offer the following as an explanation as to why the staff were so committed to the baby going to the breast rather than you pumping and then bottle feeding. When mothers are having to express it can be really difficult to get the required amounts for baby as the pump is not deemed to be as effective as the baby. We know that by using a pump early on her supply can dwindle and introducing expressed milk via a cup or bottle can inhibit the baby from attaching to the breast. We also recognise that the mother has to work incredibly hard to maintain this plan of feeding as she will need to express at least 8-10 times per day including at night and then has the added issues of needing to sterilise and then bottle feed her baby the expressed milk. It is a huge credit to you that you have achieved this and I am delighted that your baby is happy and healthy.

Part of our Baby friendly accreditation requires that I interview 7 breastfeeding mothers and 7 formula feeding mothers per month in order to inform our delivery of care. So far we have not received any comments about the staff pressurising mothers to breastfeed and the 2 day training that I personally deliver to all the staff makes it very clear that every mother has the right to an informed choice and that we offer evidence based non judgemental care.

If you are happy to discuss this matter further with me I would be delighted to have a chat with you and see if we can use your feedback constructively. Alternatively if you wish to contact the customer care team with your details I can do a full investigation of the infant feeding care you received and look at whether further staff training is required.

Please do not hesitate to make contact on 01270 273357 if I can help address, investigate or explain any of your experiences related to infant feeding.

In addition, if you wish to discuss your concerns relating to the MRSA you have contracted or the staffing levels on the midwifery unit then I would be happy to put you in contact with the head of midwifery.

Kind regards

Colette Palin

Infant feeding Lead

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