"Lincoln County Hospital Maternity Services"

About: Lincoln County Hospital / Maternity

(as a service user),

We went for a tour of Lincoln County Nettleham Ward and Labour Ward. First impressions weren't brilliant.

The HCA came into the room, didn't even say hello and just launched into a speech about visiting times and how strict they were. We looked around Netteleham ward, the standard wasn't great. It is dark and honestly looks very shabby and like its falling apart. It certainly doesn't feel welcoming or relaxing. We went to labour ward. Again the standard seemed less than optimal. Some things were very concerning. Quote from a midwife " you can bring your own drinks in....we do try to give you refreshments but sometimes we just forget" A lady asked if it was easy to get an epidural. She was told that it depends how busy they are. That women who've had epidurals need more looking after so if they are busy she was told it wouldn't be fair to them or the lady for them to have one. I work in the NHS in paediatrics and know sometimes it can be difficult to get an anaesthetist but that was just shocking. Basically it sounds as if you can't have an epidural if they are too busy because they won't have time to look after you more closely. Analgesia should not be dependant in how busy they are it should be based on whether the patient needs it!

We were also told to expect pain but it's ok because you get something nice at the end. Everyone knows it hurts but it doesn't mean it's acceptable.

We were shown where we could get extra baby linen if we needed it. It was disgusting. It was obviously all washed and pressed but is so old and tatty that it just looks dirty, faded and shabby. Why would you want to put your new baby in that? They need to seriously invest in new white clean looking baby linen.

We left the tour feeling panicked, an oppressive feeling to the place. We are changing hospital and absolutely not having our baby at Lincoln County. You don't want to be in labour and dreading going to the place to give birth.

The unit needs replacing, the standards, set up and decor are not acceptable. Terrible experience and wouldn't even consider going there.

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Response from Jennie Negus, Deputy Director of Patient Services, United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust

picture of Jennie Negus

I am sorry I didnt get back to you sooner but I wanted to investigate your concerns with our Head of Midwifery. She has now got back to me with the following reply:

"I am mortified to read this!

There are plans to redecorate buwhich will be a rolling programme over the next 2-3 years and we have just started work to address this plan re decanting the maternity block at LCH.

I have asked the director of facilities to do a walk round with me to see if we can do anything in the short term. In terms of the attitude of my staff and who should have been showing these ladies round my unit I have spoken with the Sister on Nettleham and this has been addressed and I can only apologies for their attitude. Finally with regards to visiting I have asked the team to audit this with a number of our ladies and am happy to change them if it is the majority view.

Please can you reassure these ladies that I will address these issues."

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Update posted by Baby2013 (a service user)

I must admit I have only just seen this response.

Our baby was born in July 2013 and then things were hectic. We transferred care to another hospital at 34 weeks and had the baby at 37 weeks.

I can honestly say I felt so much calmer when we had transferred to Grimsby hospital.

Our birth did have complications and I am still glad that we moved, I wouldn't have wanted to go through what we did at Lincoln. I'm not at all suggesting that the midwives themselves are not experienced and competent and its not their fault the conditions they are working in either.

I Think it's useful responding to this whilst not pregnant too. Even the most calm people can have a few wobbles in pregnancy! And even now I look back and know that moving was the best decision.

I'm a calm person but even the thought of being left there panicked me. I can honestly say that starting a tour by sitting you at a table and telling you to read the information on the desk (lots of printed out sheets about visiting times) and then coming in and pointing it all out quite sternly and explaining how strict it is doesn't go down well.

I work in child health and although I understand visiting times can have their place, allow for privacy, quiet time, clinical treatment/ward rounds etc this really is outdated in terms of family/maternity services.

Everything about families and children is about keeping families together. Visiting times for friends and relatives fair enough but for fathers, that's just very outdated. Fathers are important, they are there to support the mother and it's also important for them to have that early time with their babies. Admittedly most people are out of hospital quickly but still fathers are missing time with their new babies. Although the fathers can stay a bit later than other visitors it still isn't good enough. My partner really objected to the fact that legally as this baby's parents we were both being told when he could see his own baby. So the hospital with absolutely no legal rights over our child was basically telling the father (who does have these rights) when they could see their own baby. It's complely crazy and it does not help families to bond.

Restricting visits for friends/other relatives is fair enough but dads/partner just isn't right. At Grimsby we knew that he could stay 24 hour a day. There were visits times for other people, but dads could be there all of the time. Some mums might not want that, others perhaps can't due to other child care commitments but at least the option was there. I certainly know that as a new mum and by working with families for over 10 years that night time is often the point where people are most anxious, need more help or reassurance and most tired. They tend to need more help and support at night. Tired, anxious, lonely, isn't really great for new mums. This is when dads really can get involved too. There is a lot of literature about dads and bonding with babies and figuring out their role and how they fit in etc. probably the point where their partner/wife needs them the most, at night time, when she is rally exhausted they are not there to support in the earliest of days. That's just crazy. I know my partner was really upset about this. That he couldn't be there to help at the point where I might need him the most. I also know from years of listening to people's birth stories the explanations of how post natal wards were busy, the staff were no but didn't have the time to spend with them, that they sat at night worried with their newborn, exhausted etc just waiting for visiting time, I've heard it 1000's of times. I never thought it'd bother me when I had a baby having had so much experience with babies, I wasn't going to worry about change nappy or feeding but it really did. Night time is a point where dads being present will not only help the mother and baby but also the staff on the unit. At least dad can make mum a drink or get her something to eat or sit and hold the baby whilst she has a bit of sleep between feeds, change a nappy so she gets a bit of extra rest, or if bottle fed even does one of the feeds for her so she can have more sleep. All really important stuff that actually helps mums out, keeps the family together and actually allows dad to support and take on that role if that's what the family want. Some families won't want this but for those that do they are being denied the source of support, the person they have chosen to be their babies father.

Yes I understand that there are all sorts of health and safety issues, privacy issues for other mums, plus it can be difficult with the bay's. But saying that in pediatric services there are 6 bedded bays, children in a bed and a parent next to them in a camp bed so it can actually be done in terms of health and safety. The only difference is it'd be dad sleeping next to mum instead or parent sleeping next to sick child.

Set visits times for dads is very outdated and to be honest my finance was panicking in case our little one was born outside visiting times, we got shipped back to post natal quickly and he was kicked out when our little one was merely hours old. It does happen and I know a lot of people who have given birth at Lincoln. The analgesia comments were really bad, if I'd have taken down the midwifes name at the time I would have made a formal complaint.

I know about staffing levels and how to staff. A ward needs to be staffed to deliver appropriate care. You can't just not give a person an epidural because the staff might be too busy to look after you properly with an epidural,in situ. Staffing should be right so that that epidural can be delivered effectively when it is needed, not denied. And yes that is exactly what was said. Why a lady in the group (who'd waited ages for an epidural before at another hospital) I thought the midwife was going to explain to us that if the anesthetist covering was busy with another patient then yes an epidural might take a while to be deliverd. But no, she really didn't say that if they were too busy then epidural wouldn't be an option because ladies with epidurals need watching more carefully and if they were busy they wouldn't have the time to do that so it wouldn't be fair on the staff or the lady. That really is just terrible.

It didn't help that at the time there was a lady screaming in the next room. A member of the group then said "that's the lady that didn't get the epidural!". If I'd have taken down the midwifes name I would have made a complaint. Basically it was very clear, busy no epidural, not busy you can have one.

The poor lady that had asked the question left the tour saying she was finding another hospital. Another lady explained how she hadn't managed to breast feed her last baby and really wanted to breastfeed the next baby. She asked if they would still be allowed to stay in hospital if still trying to establish feeding. Again I was shocked at the response. You could stay however if they needed the bed you'd have to leave. So basically saying that if they needed the bed they'd be kicking out a mum that was still trying to establish breastfeeding. That is terrible.

I left the tour and partner took one look at me and said "I wouldn't even get you through the door would I?"

We went to Grimsby and it was amazing.

We went to their tour and instantly felt relaxed. The unit was bright, light and cheerful. Thank you cards all over the walls. The staff all smiled and said hello. The midwife led the tour and was so positive about everything. Pain relief inquiry, funnily enough epidural was absolutely an option. Might be a wait for the anesthetist but if that's what you wanted then not a problem at all. No question that it wouldn't happen, well only in relation to if you were too dilated and imminent delivery!

Basically if you wants/needed it they'd be someone to do it, as it should be. Not that if it's too busy tough look, you mow it'll hurt but it doesn't matter because you expect a bit of pain with labour and get a baby at the end, which is what we got at Lincoln. We had no intention of having an epidural, last thing I wanted but the comments were frightening.

Grimsby were completely the opposite of Lincoln. Nothing too much trouble. It was a calming experience. The staff were reassuring. No worries about staff being too busy or forgetting to give patients drinks, they have a kettle and tea and coffee making facilities for each individual patient.

Obviously Grimsby is all private side rooms with en suites so it is very nice but just the attitudes and environment was different. You could have a beautiful looking unit but yet have poor staff and bad attitudes and equally have comments like the epidural one at Lincoln. But it was so far removed from Lincoln in every sense. It wasn't just about the decor at Lincoln. A nice environment helps but that doesn't affect quality of staff. I'm sure Lincoln has lovely experienced midwives who want the best for their patients and when the chips are down they will keep mum and baby safe and ultimately that is the most important thing but Lincoln really did not give that Impression at all.

We had to stay in Grimsby for four days, partner was there 24 hours and it was the best help ever.

They had breastfeeding peer supporters that came around several times a day to check how things were going. The midwives also came in to check. Even at 4 days when my baby was feeding beautifully (except for one side which I was expressing off until baby decided to take to that side) they still queried us going home because of that, even though he was feeding wonderfully on the other side.

They are a busy unit but the level of support was amazing. Not a chance we'd have been kicked out of feeding wasn't sorted. I was phoned every day by peer supporters just to check in and see how things were going, even though there was still the community midwife.

if we have another baby it will be at Grimsby and we also know that our current child (after the actual deliver is over) can be there too.

If we had to stay again our current little one can also stay with us. It really is at the heart of family centered care. There is a lot of difference in terms of attitudes towards families. I strongly suggest a visit to the Grimsby unit and implementing some of their forward thinking and very family orientated ideas.

We had to travel for over an hour to get to Grimsby, tricky in labour but best decision we made for our family. I actually for,t cal, travelling to that unit.

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