"antenatal care barely more than box-ticking..."
About: Queen Charlotte's Hospital Queen Charlotte's Hospital London W12 0HS
to date I had 4 antenatal care appointments at this hospital. While the first three were OK, the fourth appointment yesterday morning was a huge waste of time. to start off I had to wait for my appointment for 2 hours - a scheduled routine appointment at 10am in the morning - how did they manage to run up 2 hours delay by that time already?! Suggests massive understaffing of midwives.
Then the appointment itself was utterly pointless. This might be standard NHS procedure and nothing unique to QCH, but I was still astonished. It was the 16-weeek check-up at which, as I understand, the main issue was to discuss the results from the blood test that was done 2 months ago. Why one has to wait for 2 months to get the results if everything is OK is beyond me, anyway. The results from the combined screening test are sent out by letter after 2 weeks regardless whether it's good or bad news, so why is that not possible with the blood test results. It would have been useful to know I have a negative blood group a little earlier - thankfully I didn't experience any bleeding in the meantime!
I then wanted to discuss and have checked out some discomforts and concerns I've had over the last weeks. But to my complete astonishment I was informed that physical examinations could not be conducted at these check-ups but if I had any concerns I had to go to A&E - who would then refer me to the emergency maternity unit. Given I was already in a highly specialised maternity unit (or that's what Queen Charlotte's prides itself of) I thought that was a joke! And when I said so the lady even suggested that because I was smiling it didn't appear that I had any real problem. So you have to look as if you're about to die to get any attention in the NHS?!
So as I had to learn, the antenatal check-ups are there for filling out checklists and "giving advice" (completely pointlessly, I was also read out a list of foods I could eat - which already happened at the first appointment, and been referred to ample reading material online) rather than any real follow-up of any individual concerns that had arisen since the last appointment. The lady conducting my appointment also did not appear to have the necessary medical qualification to be able to do more than just taking blood pressure and reading out advice. To be honest, rather than go to another such check-up my time would be spent better in A&E, where at least they appear to be able to do physical examinations and can check out individual concerns. That's saying a lot about the effectiveness and efficiency of the antenatal care system!
And all that after having waited for 2 hours!
Suffice to say I'm glad I get to see a proper gynaecologist in my home country on the continent very soon. The NHS should really do more international comparisons - there's a lot to be learnt from other countries. I, for one, do not feel I'm getting adequate care here.