"Despite good core medical treatment the..."

About: St Peter's Hospital (Chertsey)

What I liked

The medical staff, i.e. the midwives directly involved in the labour room and the doctors were very competent and professional. They kept us informed of what was happening and what options we had. In this respect - the 'core' medical experience was good. However this was totally let down by the rest of the experience (see below).

What could be improved

The general level of care and patient experience needs dramatic improvement, for instance:

1) Having been given gel to begin induction my wife was left alone in the bath at 4 am. When the contractions came on she was on her own and physically struggling to get out of the bath, there was no buzzer and she didn't know how to get back to her bed - as you can imagine this was a fairly frightening experience.

2) After my wife had given birth we were left on our own for four hours in the birthing room. Having given birth at 7.45pm my wife didn't get to bed until after midnight.

3) After giving birth it took two hours for them to bring a cup of tea and some toast.

4) After two hours I went looking for some help and was told in no uncertain terms to go back to the room. The nurse suggested my wife took a shower - however there was no shower. There was a bath but the large patches of dried blood (from a previous user of the room) surrounding it made it very unappealing. There was a basin, but the plug was missing making washing pretty much impossible and the paper towel dispenser was broken.

5) When we eventually got to the ward we had to ask for a jug of water four times - it hadn't arrived by the time we left, about 18 hours later.

6) Throughout this we had to nag and chase and nag to get anything done or any sort of response.

What's really disappointing is that having spoken to several NCT friends this is certainly not a 'one off' experience, they all complain of the same issues. All in all - such poor levels of care really soured what should have been an amazing experience.

Anything else?

If you are in the position of having to use St Peter's maternity services, based on our experience I'd suggest the following:

1) Take in your own bottled water, drinks, snacks, etc.

2) Always ask what's happening next and most importantly - when.

3) Don't assume that they'll do what they say they'll do, you'll have to chase them constantly.

4) Don't assume that they'll be back when they say they will be. More often than not it seems they've forgotten you and you'll have to keep chasing them - sometimes quite firmly.

5) Don't stay longer than you absolutely have to. It's an unpleasant and frustrating environment, get out as soon as you reasonably can.

But - if you are about to use St Peter's maternity services please don't worry, the core medical service was good.DrinksProfessionalismServiceCanteenEnvironmentReceptionMaternityDoctorsOpening hoursPatient careWashroom

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Responses

Response from St Peter's Hospital

We are very sorry and disappointed to hear about your recent experience in our maternity department. Ensuring mothers and their families have a positive experience when they come here is extremely important to us and we are continually making improvements to our service and the general environment within the department.

Over the last year for example we have put in new ensuite birthing rooms with a bath and shower in each of them, and we are just replacing all the cold water dispensers which are in all our public areas.

Unfortunately there have been times when the department has been short staffed (although never such that it would put a mother or baby's health in danger), and this may have contributed to the less than satisfactory experience you encountered on this occasion. However, we have recently had a very successful recruitment campaign and these additional members of staff are now coming into post bringing us up to very good staffing levels.

I would like to reassure women who are considering coming to St Peter's to have their baby that ensuring your experience is a positive one is one of our top priorities and something all our staff are working hard to achieve. And a recent survey undertaken by the Care Quality Commission showed we had make marked improvements in the experience of women coming into our department over the past few years, and we're proud of that achievement. I would encourage the public to take a look at our new maternity film and online tour (www.asph.nhs.uk) and if they have any further questions or concerns please don't hesitate to contact us directly.

Of course if anyone has any specific concerns about their experience with us we would like to hear about it straightaway so we can try and put it right.

Eileen Nolan

Associate Director, Maternity and Women's Health

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