"Should have been a magical experience -..."

About: Birmingham Women's Hospital

What I liked

My baby. But she'd have been lovely wherever she was born. They were very thorough when a minor complication was discovered. Labour ward staff were lovely.

What could be improved

Waiting times were ridiculous. An ancient sign on the wall said 'please be patient, we're suffering staff shortages'. Still? Why book people in for 3pm if you know they're not going to get seen until 5? The same happened every visit, and I had many.

Wait for triage (briefly). Wait again, for over an hour, for scan (that's if they tell you to wait in the correct area - 2hours if they tell you to wait in the area where there is no radiographer today). Wait again for over an hour to see consultant. I never saw the same consultant twice. Co-ordination between departments poor. Left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing and invariably I had to explain?!

Signage was rubbish: 'Initial appointments book in at desk 2' - no indication which desk was which, only a snappy receptionist when you try the wrong one

'Take a ticket and wait' - ticket machine long gone.

'Are you having a baby in 2008?' This was still up in 2010.

My husband once took down all the out of date posters on one poster board. It was virtually empty when he was finished.

Labour wards were fine, staff lovely, but I wanted a water birth, had checked the hospital had one in the delivery suite, took the tour to see it, mentioned it in my notes and consultations, understood that if someone else was in it, then I wouldn't be able to, but otherwise it would be there for me, but when the day came, was told no-one had used it since installation, as not enough staff were trained. I was furious and felt very let down - I'd been pinning my hopes on it all the way through my labour. Baths in the labour ward were narrower and shallower than my bath at home!

Then it got worse. Nurses on the post natal wards were uncaring, unprofessional and downright mean. I'd just had a baby, I was exhausted, emotional, in pain, and needed to sleep, but couldn't because of the pain. I was snapped at, while crying and asking for the pain medication I'd been promised, that I should try to get some sleep. Really? Cont. below.

Anything else?

I was promised that someone would come and show me where things were on the post-natal ward. No-one did, so when my baby woke me, with an explosive meconium poo nappy at 2am, and I rang for help, I was met with consternation and impatience 'the call button is for emergencies only! Is this an emergency!? -Your problem is that you haven't turned the light on'. Well, if someone had shown me where... and where the clean sheets were... and where I should change my baby... All I wanted was some support.

My husband wasn't allowed to stay with us - he'd have happily snoozed beside us in a chair and then I could have put earplugs in and slept. But no. He was kicked out at 11pm and was not allowed to return until 12 noon?

And the morning (bearing in mind that I'd struggled to sleep) I was bombarded by lots of professionals giving me info and asking me questions. Having him around to help and support me would have been invaluable.

(He did come into the ward, earlier than he should have done, when someone held open a door for him, and when he wouldn't leave because I burst into tears at the mention of it, the nurses shamelessly tried to bully us and especially me into making him leave. We didn't even know he wasn't supposed to be there until 12 until someone came and had a go at us?!)

We'd have happily gone home the night before, but were told we had to wait to see a paediatrician, who wouldn't be available until the morning. In the event, her recommendations weren't followed up and we had to write a letter of complaint to get something done. What was the point?

We finally left at 2 pm, 18 hours after my daughter was born. Not a moment too soon.

Had I known the treatment I was going to receive postnatally, despite a 19 hour labour, second degree tear and numerous stitches, I'd have walked the mile home rather than endure that again.

Please, a member of management 'mystery shop' the service through the eyes of a mum/couple arriving for the first time.

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Responses

Response from Birmingham Women's NHS Foundation Trust We are preparing to make a change

Thank you for your comments; we are very sorry that your experience at Birmingham Women’s Hospital was a disappointing one for you. Birmingham Women’s Hospital takes your comments very seriously and whilst we cannot answer each concern here we will investigate them further. We are making positive steps in many of the areas that you mentioned including providing more information to mothers as they arrive on the postnatal ward including written information. We have recently replaced our signage in the departments you visited as a result of similar comments from other patients. Also, we are working closely with recent patients via our Maternity Services Liaison Committee in consultation to gain their opinions on our services.

If you have any further or specific comments to make please feel free to contact us directly at complaintsbwh@bwhct.nhs.uk and we will be able to answer your concerns

Response from Birmingham Women's Hospital

Thank you for taking the time to feedback.

I'm sorry that you did not have a response to your feedback at the time.

Our services have improved significantly in the past few years and would hope that should you require our services again, you will have a much more positive experienece.

If at any time you would like to discuss your situation, please contact the Patient Experiences Team on 0121 623 4749.

Thank you!

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