"Abergavenny Health Visitor trouble"

About: Monmouthshire Lhb South East Wales Regional Office

(as the patient),

My son was born in Spring last year, and once he was a few weeks old the care was handed over from the local midwives to the health visitor at our doctor's surgery. Our care under the midwives was faultless, and I absolutely loved being a first time mum. At 7 weeks I took our son to the doctor for his 6 week check (they made the late appointment, not me) and the doctor commented on a faint reddish mark on his cheek that was about the size of my smallest fingernail. I said I didn't know what specifically caused it, but that I thought he must have bumped his cheek when his Dad was cuddling him shortly before the appointment. Nothing more was mentioned. The rest of the check went fine and we went home. I mentioned the mark to my husband who said the baby had been trying to hold his head up and had bumped his cheek on the corner of his glasses. We didn't think anything more of it.

A few hours later we got a phone call from the health visitor saying that the doctor was concerned about the mark and that we needed to take the baby immediately to the hospital where we would be met by social services and the police. It was absolutely the most traumatic, humiliating experience. My mum, who lives with my husband and I, came with us, and we reported to A&E where we met with a lady from social services. She looked at the baby and couldn't even see the mark, we had to point it out to her. Then a police constable arrived, and she also couldn't see the mark. They both expressed their surprise that we had been called to the hospital in this way. We were taken to a private room and questioned. A consultant came, and stripped the baby and examined him. He concluded that he was a well-cared for baby and his exact words told us that the mark is very small and could possibly be a bruise, but it isn't clear. He agreed that it was the same size as the corner of my husband's glasses. The lady from social services was unhappy that the doctor had not mentioned any concerns at our appointment earlier that day.

I understand that if doctors have concerns about abuse they need to be followed up. However she had stripped the baby naked during the examinaton and could see there was nothing else, and I don't know why she thought that, if I had hurt him on his face, I would have taken him to the doctors for the check up at all? ?

This experience completely knocked my confidence as a new first time mum. I was paranoid every time the baby scrammed himself with his fingers or his cup, and was so anxious about being judged that we ended up not going to many of the local mother and baby groups I had been looking forward to, and instead I paid to go elsewhere to private groups. We have been told that this is on our permanent record, even though the consultant and social services were satisfied that we hadn't done anything wrong. Other than that we had no follow up. At a subsequent visit the health visitor said that the doctor had been concerned that the baby was bruising without cause and had wanted him seen in case it was a medical condition - well if that was the case I don't think social services and the police would have turned up.

It has felt like for the last year the health visitor has been trying to justify reporting us to the police and social services back when the baby was 7 weeks. She makes constant comments about the baby being unhappy (he isn't) and underweight (he isn't). I was so badly frightened by the initial experience at 7 weeks that I didn't pull her up on her comments, and now they have progressed to things like Why are you sweating so much? (hot room as babies get stripped and weighed there), and Oh has your dad come with you today? Oh well he's quite slim so I suppose it's possible the baby will just be slim. '. At his 9 month development check she gave him two wooden blocks, and just as he started to play with them she wrenched them off him and said I should be more careful in case he put them in his mouth. He started to cry and wouldn't do any of the other things she asked him to (bang two toys together, play with a bead on a string). The other mums I have spoken to have said their 9 month old babies wouldn't do these things on request in a strange environment either. The HV grudgingly allowed the baby to pass the test, but insisted we have a 6 week nursery nurse 'intervention' to show me how to teach him to do things properly. When the nursery nurse came she said the baby was happy and was doing everything he's supposed to be doing, and more.

After the 'intervention' was cut short because it was not necessary, I have finally had enough. I am moving area and will be changing health visitors. I have been putting up with this for too long because I have been frightened that if I try and stand up for myself they will get social services involved again. It has basically been a nightmare from start to finish, but I have finally realised that I am a good mum, and that this has been the only major cause of stress over the whole of the first year with my son. These people are supposed to be one of the main sources of support for new mums - this feels like a joke.

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