"Understaffed and overworked = poor level of care."

About: Chelsea & Westminster Hospital

I was induced with my baby and spent 3 nights on the pre-labour ward followed by by 5 nights on the post natal ward with baby. The vast majority of the midwifes are incredibly lovely, caring and well qualified - however they have far, far too many patients to look after and it is literally impossible for them to give mum and baby the care required. You buzz for assistance and most often need to physically hunt down a member of staff - who inevitably are irritable and stressed because they are trying to juggle so many women. There is also only one doctor on the very large postnatal ward at any one time. The cleanliness of the bathrooms is beyond disgusting - you have just given birth and quite likely have a lot of stitches to keep clean - the washrooms are littered with blood clots, vomit, bins overflowing with sanitary pads...I could go on. Having been in the postnatal ward for 5 nights I am aware this was not a "bad day" - they were consistently filthy.

Not a good environment for vulnerable newborn babies to be surrounded by people with nowhere sanitary to wash. We were told it was really important for our baby to be given antibiotics at certain times each day - these times slipped by 5 hours and frequently we were having to find someone to remind them to come and give the drugs.

I think standards slip due to tiredness - one membe of staff tried to put another babies dirty plaster onto my baby's open cut after a blood test - until I said "hold on, please use a clean plaster!" There are very different rules on visits/number of visitors depending on who is on shift and your nationality - if you are unable to speak English it appears you can have unlimited visitors all through the day and night because staff need someone to translate for you. Incredibly disruptive when you are already faced with an impossible task of trying to sleep in a room of 6 women and newborn babies separated by curtains. Staff also have to spend much longer with non English speaking patients because of the language barrier - in a busy London hospital where there are an awful lot of non English speaking patients there should be proper translation services set up so that midwifes can focus on patient care, not language skills. The majority of issues we encountered in our stay were not caused by the midwifes/doctors themselves - they are trying to do a great job in an impossible situation. Unless and until C&W have more funding, more midwifes, more cleaners and less patients I would not recommend giving birth here - there are too many accidents just waiting to happen in the current set up.

Story from NHS Choices

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