"Nightmare at Northampton General Obstetrics"

About: Northampton General Hospital (Acute)

(as the patient),

On the post-labour ward, normally people only stay 1 night and then they get to go home with their new babies, but we were there for nearly 2 weeks, due to complications with the twins being premature.

Now leading up to labour everyone, Doctors, nurses, midwifes would all say that premature babies would go to the special care unit until it deemed fit that they can go home, and passed all the medical checks.

Our babies where born at 34 weeks, which in general for twins is quite good. They went to special care for the 1st 2 hours of there lives for some checks, before re-joining us on the post-labour ward. We thought at first how great this was, that must mean how great the babies were, that they must be healthy and all OK.

All was OK, until about 4 days after giving birth, 1 twin was still losing weight, and was getting close to the 10% which doctors label as being the maximum babies should lose before they start to gain weight. She would never hold down her food, and was losing weight, where as her sister would be gaining everyday.

She was taken to special care, which we thought was the right thing to do, as they could monitor her, find out if she has any problems and fix if necessary. All they did was feed her normally for 24 hours, re-weighed her, which she didn't lose anymore, but then again didn't gain any either, then give her back. Again she started to lose weight and this time we were getting a bit concerned as this is not normal.

The thing which made it worse is that everyday, new midwifes, new doctors would come in, give there opinion as to why, and slag off the previous person for there efforts, which was starting to way heavily on our minds, that actually nobody knows what to do. On day, the doctor came round and said that as she is still losing weight he said that now we need to make a plan of action of what to do, how we would fix this, he said he would speak to the senior consultant on duty and come back, this was a 9am, by 5pm I had had enough, and after many visits to the midwifes office asking when he would be back and being told that he was coming, I told the midwife on duty that if nobody comes by 7pm, we are going home with our babies, as there is nothing we can't do there that we are not doing sitting hear in this hospital. We were getting no advice, no plan, nothing.

Within an hour have and behold she was taken up to special care unit again, and checked out, and put on a higher calorie diet in order for her to gain weight, she was weighed the following day and she had gained 90 grams, and so was put back on the normal diet for a further 24 hours and re-weighed. This time gaining just 10 grams. We were promptly discharged at this point. We are now at home feeding, but worrying is this food actually doing anything for her, is she losing weight again.

For me I think if I hadn't of blown up, and told them that I was taking my babies home as they were not doing anything then we would still be there. This should not have happened, as everyone should be entitled to the best possible care, as quick as possible at all times.

I have read lots of good comments on here and mostly I do agree, but its not until something doesn't go to plan that you can see all that is wrong.

The medical staff at the hospital seem to be really stretched, and unable to give the service that people need.

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Response from Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust

Thank you for your feedback. I am sorry that your family had a distressing time. It is difficult to comment without knowing with certainty which case this refers to and without being able to look at the notes, so I can only really give general comments as feedback.

Babies born at 34-35 weeks do not always need admission to the neonatal unit. If they are of reasonable weight and there are no other complications we would aim to keep them with their mothers' on the postnatal ward, keeping a close eye on feeding and temperature. It would be normal practice, however to keep such babies in hospital for longer than the 1-2 days one might expect at term. All babies lose weight after delivery, up to 10% is acceptable. We generally keep babies who are born a little prematurely or with a lower than normal birth weight in hospital until they have stopped losing weight and begun to gain a little. This often results in a stay on the postnatal wards of a week or more. We would then ensure that the community midwife and subsequently the health visitor monitor the weight at home.

Your family have clearly had a distressing time. It seems appropriate that your daughter was admitted to the neonatal unit when there were concerns about feeding and weight gain. If there was still some delay in feeding being fully established and ongoing concern about weight gain, discharge from hospital may well have been appropriately delayed. It is difficult to comment about the specifics of the clinical case, but if you and your family wish us to look into it in more detail I am sure the consultant concerned would be pleased to do so.

I am sorry that your family were further distressed with the conflicting information you received from the health professionals. The paediatric junior doctors work in shifts and it would be usual for parents to see several paediatric SHOs during a 2 week stay on the postnatal wards. They do work closely with the registrars and the consultants who are attending for the week. I will ensure that the junior staff receive feedback about the importance of discussing cases which are out of the ordinary with senior members of staff, so that more consistent information can be given to parents.

I am very sorry to hear that your family are still concerned about your daughter's feeding and weight gain and I would urge you to take further advice from your health visitor or GP who can then arrange hospital review if necessary.

Thanks again for telling us about your experiences.