UCH, Whittington or Royal Free?

(132 Posts)
sazza1970 Sun 25-Jan-09 11:07:28

Just wondering if anyone could help me decide where to have my baby. The Whittington is our closest hospital, and I'm due to go there at present (I'm 18 weeks), but have heard mixed reports; I'm considering the Royal Free as it's relatively near and is a bigger teaching hospital; UCH would be my first choice if it wasn't so far away. I'm an older first time mum (38) and am feeling really anxious about this decision. I've done tours of the Royal free and Whittington, but UCH doesn't allow you to look round... does anyone have any advice?

BigusBumus Sun 25-Jan-09 11:20:35

I haven't had babies in either hospital but know people who have (i used to live in Crouch End for years). Going off what my friends all said, the Royal Free was far nicer and more supportive.

Whittington grotty, but caring staff.

UCH posher, but uncaring staff. However there are more 'specialists' on site.#

BUT have you considered the Edgeware Birthing Unit. It is NHS run, but imo an birthing retreat spar. It's lovely with very caring, experienced midwives. You have to be low risk though. I don't think your age is a problem though but you'll have to check.

squeaver Sun 25-Jan-09 12:37:23

I had a very good experience at the Royal Free. Have heard the same things as SMcK has said about the other 2.

Roastchicken Sun 25-Jan-09 13:10:17

I've had 2 at the RF - one in labour ward and one in Birth Centre. Both were relatively straightforward births which may make it easier, but I was really pleased with it both times. The antenatal and postnatal care weren't great, but the midwifes during labour were excellent - and both times gave me advice which saved a c-section or lots of tearing. Had a fab experience with epidural. The rooms were lovely and clean, though I checked out on same day both times. Had a friend who had two at the Whittington and she was also very happy - they do lots of acupuncture etc there which they don't at the RF.

I personally would vote for the RF but I'm sure you'll be fine either way.

MrsMattie Sun 25-Jan-09 22:13:53

Had a hideous (really awful!) experience at the Royal Free in 2005.

Great experience at UCH in Nov 2008. I couldn't have wished for a better experience, despite various complications.

Have heard good things about the Whit, although it is a bit rundown.

sazza1970 Mon 26-Jan-09 07:34:00

Thank you so much everyone for taking the time to reply - really, really helpful.

pecanpie Mon 26-Jan-09 16:09:42

Had DD at Royal free. My GP's referral was lost by the hospital after 12 week scan and so I didn't get my booking in appointment with midwife till about 15/16 weeks. I was completely stressed out by their lack of organisation. Birth was fine there.

I am currently 8+4. I went to see the GP and my referral from UCH came through really quickly - a consultant's appointment which should have been on Sat (which I had to change) and a scan next Mon (9+4). Not sure if this is normal or if it's because I had a mc in between, but they seem very efficient and I'm happy so far.

Sorry to hijack, but has anyone been to see Mrs B Tahouri at UCH?

becktay Mon 26-Jan-09 21:38:17

Whittington every time, great staff - very supportive, am booked in again now. it's so much more about the people you see than the surroundings. Had experience of Royal Free midwives (as am camden resident) they came to me after birth. Wasn't impressed to say the least. One mw told me i couldn't take public transport for about 1yr cos detrimental to babies health/imune system - eh? UCH sounds good but busy!
Good luck, x

scifinerd Mon 26-Jan-09 21:42:39

Hat initial appointment at Royal Free - appaling and very unsympathetic. Then had all three at UCH and I would recommend it every time. By far the best in every way. I have heard many bad things about Royal Free. Heard mixed about Whittingdon but generally mostly good about UCH.

spicemonster Mon 26-Jan-09 21:43:24

Lots of threads on this already. RF gets generally terrible reviews from people. I'd stick with whittington

2pt4kids Mon 26-Jan-09 21:43:49

I had a HIDEOUS experience at Royal Free in 2005 too.
Hope its improved since then!

nina99 Fri 30-Jan-09 17:02:23

I'm so sorry mums have had poor experiences at the RFree in the past but things have changed in a major way here recently, but a lot of good work supporting mothers through their pregnancies and labours also goes on here at the RFree!
Sorry to sound like an advert(yes I am part of the Maternity staff here!).
In the last 12 mths we have appointed 5 additional Consultants, a great new Head of Midwifery and 4 new senior MW matrons. Our Consultants are now physically present on the LW for 72 hrs a week in case of emergencies (UCH and Whit both currently only have 40 hrs/wk Consultant presence 9-5 M-Fri).
We do still have our problems, the pilot new IT system went live in June last year and has caused additional problems but we are working through them. Please try and visit all your local units before you decide.

nummymummy Fri 30-Jan-09 21:44:34

I have NOTHING good to say about Royal Free. Had dd there June 2007. Delays in getting appointments for booking and scans, had to chase. First booking appointment therefore late, midwife v unfriendly. And as for the birth, worst experience of my life. Labour ward midwife had communication skills of a toenail and didn't notice baby's distress, emergency c section followed by 2 nights in 3rd world conditions (showers on wards broken and dirty), was lost in system again after allowed home and no midwife visit... clearly am still traumatised!!
But know that birth centre staff supposed to be great, and glad to hear from nina99 that things improving.

Rhi13 Fri 30-Jan-09 23:29:55

I gave birth to my son born July 08 at the Royal Free. Despite hearing terrible things about the hospital I had a positive experience. Rarely saw the same midwife at my ante natal classes but most of them were friendly enough. The midwives (went through 4 shifts) during labour were all fantastic - friendly, supportive and the trainee midwife rubbed my feet for ages! After a long labour I was told I would have to have a CS but because of the midwife support I was given more time - ended up with a ventouse delivery. Had an episiotomy and the stitches that go with it but was also given plenty of pain killers (a weeks worth when I left hospital a day after he was born) so at no point felt like I was suffering. I meant to write to the Ham & High and report a good review of the RF but havent got around to it - my 6 month old keeps me too busy!

Probably too much info but hope it helps. Good luck.

WobblyPig Fri 30-Jan-09 23:42:48

I have worked at all three hospitals currently working at the Royal Free.
I personally wouldn't be treated there for anything at any time. The Royal Free is appalling depsite all the money is has spnet doing itself up. Also has a riduculous new IT system which is causing a major headaches. Am pregnant at the moment and if I went into labour at work would get an ambulance out.

UCH has excellent specialist staff and neonatal care. Whittington is a nice hospital to work in but can feel run down and hectic .

stephla Sat 31-Jan-09 00:07:21

In any given hospital there will be a number of women who have bad experiences - and the bigger the hospital, the more there will be of them - but the vast majority of women leave hospital still in one piece and with happy and healthy babies. The odds are that you too will be in this majority.

It is natural to worry because the circumstances surrounding the birth are out of your control - and you are a grown woman unused to not being in control.

But just because the choice of hospital is in your control, it doesn't really mean it will make any difference to the outcome. I went to what was supposed to be one of the worst hospital in London at the time and it was absolutely fine.

(Except the food).

jasmeeen Sat 31-Jan-09 00:16:13

I had a lovely birth experience at UCH (elective c-section). Aftercare wasn't great, but that was also true of my first birth experience in Norwich (emergency c-section), which was appalling.

Would choose second birth experience over first any time. Currently TTC no 3 and will definitely choose UCH if I'm lucky enough to get pregnant.

elkiedee Sat 31-Jan-09 01:08:47

I was an older first time mum at the Whittington in May 2007 (37, but nearly 38 at time) - not everything was as I would have ideally liked but that was mainly because I was induced and I've heard a positive story about Royal Free and negative ones about UCH. I had a long labour with ventouse but that and stitching were carried out with no problems.

I'm about to return to have ds2 there.

Although the antenatal clinic area is still quite run down, the postnatal ward looks a lot better, I don't know if they have more staff.

bundle Sat 31-Jan-09 01:11:31

whittington by a mile

'It is natural to worry because the circumstances surrounding the birth are out of your control - and you are a grown woman unused to not being in control.'

I'm sorry but I absolutely disagree with this statement. The circumstances are NOT out of your control, they SHOULD be very much within your control and it they are not it is because of very poor care and support.

It is perfectly possibly to be in control throughout an unpredictable experience and you should absolutely demand this because you will labour better, and, research has shown have less intervention and a better perception of your birth experience.

bundle Sat 31-Jan-09 01:23:40

er starlight i certainly wasn't in control when i had a crash section. but luckily i trusted the staff who helped to deliver my baby safely.

bundle Your situation wasn't 'normal' and an exception to the rule. All situations have an element of risk of us not being in control, but for the most part, we can be.

nkf Sat 31-Jan-09 13:48:45

I have experience of all those hospitals though not all maternity related. They are all what they are - large, busy London teaching hospitals. Your individual experience will depend on your labour and the midwives on the night. I'd say go for your nearest. Congratulations by the way.

lecohen Sat 31-Jan-09 21:54:36

Hi there,

I have experience with both maternity units of Whittington and Royal Free although did not deliver in either (went to Portland)...from the experience that I have had at each, I would opt for Royal Free as absolutely hated Whittington - the actual premises, outdated equipment, horrible delays and general poor quality care.

Sorry but you will always get mixed reviews and hope not to offend, just personal opinion.

Good luck whatever you decide x

elkiedee Sat 31-Jan-09 21:56:45

I've found antenatal care at the Whittington to be of generally great quality, though I've also been able to do routine antenatal midwife appointments, the last few in first pregnancy and all but initial one this time, at local health centre 5 minutes walk from home.

lecohen Sat 31-Jan-09 21:57:20

wanted to add though that I almost delivered at Royal Free but discharged myself due to poor quality care and lack of staff on ward so not much better!

Aranea Sat 31-Jan-09 22:05:28

I had a bad experience at the Royal Free in 2004. When I got pg again last year I went to talk to the head of midwifery (I think. or maybe consultant midwife. can't remember her title) who was incredibly nice and sympathetic and said they wanted to find a way to support me through this second birth and enable me to feel I could return to the Royal Free. She then failed to follow up in any way, didn't return calls and failed to find my notes. I didn't go back.

I've heard lots of bad stories about the Royal Free, and bad reports from doctors who have worked in maternity there.

I have heard good things about UCH from everyone I know who's been there. Personally I wouldn't worry about the distance - if you're near the Whittington I think it can't be more than about a half hour drive to UCH, and if it's your first baby it's likely to take longer than that!

bundle Sun 01-Feb-09 19:57:46

er starlight
no one can predict if their situation is goign to be normal/straightforward

bundle Normal is the 'norm'. That's why it's called normal.

I appreciate that there are occassions where the norm doesn't happen, like in any circumstances, but it isn't 'normal' for that to happen, and the variety of normals, during childbirth, you can have a level of control over.


er starlight

Turniphead1 Sun 01-Feb-09 22:26:44

Based solely on word of mouth over last 5 years in my local area (right in the heart of the triangle surrounded by these 3 hospitals). I would say;

1. Whittington
2. UCH
3. Royal Free ( i hear nothing but negatives about that place even though it's birth centre is newer than Whittington etc..)

As I say - not my own experience (save that I had 80% of my antenatal care with the Whittington with Dc1 and all my home midwife visits postnatally with the Whittington Highgate team with all 3 - and was always very impressed by the care).

( we went for Edgeware Birth Centre first and St JOhn and St Elizabeths second and third time)

Mammina Sun 01-Feb-09 22:53:17

I had DD at the whittington, mainly chose it bec it's literally up the road - had to have elective c-section due to breech baby.

Pre-natal care was absolutely fine, lots of waiting & hard to get appts (am going back for DC2 and have already been told I can't get the 16 week appt til 19 weeks bec that's the only availability they have).

I was impressed by the alternative treatments they offered - I had acupuncture & some seeds stuck to my ear hmm (pressure points) to try and turn DD around

The care I had at the operating theatre was fantastic & everything seemed clean & new, recovery room & staff also great.
Once I was wheeled back to the post natal ward it was like going back to the 1940s though - the beds, curtains etc were ancient, it was VERY crammed in there & they were clearly understaffed & it was really hard to get the staff's attention.

Mixed feelings about the post natal staff, some were lovely, some lacked a bit of sensitivity and tact.

Am going back there for no. 2 though as I say as I think that everywhere you go on the NHS is going to be understaffed. Since I was last there (2007), one of the midwives told me they have had a bit of a refurb, although she said it was hardly luxury but certainly better.

Turniphead Can I ask why you didn't return to the Edgware for the next two births?

bundle Mon 02-Feb-09 22:48:28

it wasn't normal no. but other non-normal things that happen like tears, foetal distress, obstructed labour etc do happen. and it's good that professionals are there to be in control of those situations on behalf of the woman/child. it is a false dichotomy to say that there are situations which are "normal" where a woman is in control and non-normal ones where she isn't. I made fully informed decisions in a partnership with the people I trusted, who shared information with me.
I was having a baby, not a birth.

Turniphead1 Tue 03-Feb-09 16:34:59

starlight sure. you may recall that I recommended Edgware to you on your thread when you were deciding where to give birth grin (if memory serves)...
Although I chose to give birth at Edgware, I ended up being tranferred to Barnet for failure to progress (was in active labour for a full 24 hours). I had an unassisted delivery (by the skin of my teeth, they were waving the ventouse at me...) with epidural there. That didn't put me off though, I still rave about the place (edgware) and would have loved to have given birth there.

My experience of the postnatal care at Barnet (allowed home after 12 hours - not having slept for 72 hours and with b'feeding not even started never minded established...) put me off the NHS postnatally. I don't know if you are familiar with John and Lizzies - but it is very similar to Edgaware in ethos (high waterbirth rate etc) although does have drs (and anaesthetists (sp) etc but no neonatal care. I was also prepared to fork out extra to go there because I wanted to use the counselling service and get to know the midwives who would deliver my baby (which indeed I did, and by coincidence the same two m/ws delivered by DS and DD2). I also wanted to stay in hospital (in a restful environment ie own room) for a couple of days and knew at Edgware you get a night maximum.

But if we hadn't have had the money to go private I probably would have gone, private midwife for homebirth as first choice, Edgware second.

UCH encouraged us to look around, but only on booked tours after 30-something weeks. I had my first two dcs there, despite it being inconveniently far for me.

I found the staff to be fantastic. Very caring and helpful. Even the one m/w with whom I did not get on was obvioulsly treating me the best she felt for me. Despite my having a poor first labour with her, I still chose to have my second there, and don't regret it at all.

Labour ward was excellent, though at the time there were no ensuite delivery rooms. Post-natal wards overcrowded and food poor, but staff lovely.

Last child born there 6y ago, so things may have changed, of course.

Specialist care available onsite - to which I was refered. Also excellent.

I was booked-in with my thrid dc when we moved out of London, and I prefered to continue as much as possible of my AN care there, even tho it meant that I had a dreadful trip for each appointment, until all the tests and scans were finished at about 25w.

averagemum Tue 03-Feb-09 17:54:02

Another vote for the Whittington - had a great experience there in September with really two lovely midwives who read my birth plan and did everything to help me have a natural birth, even when I wasn't sure I could do it. One was pretty stern at the outset, but by the end she was cutting her break short so that she could be there for the big moment! Plus every time I had a worry in the weeks leading up to the birth I could ring or go up to the labour ward and be seen and reassured. As someone else said, though, the postnatal ward is VERY noisy and VERY cramped. If it's just up the road (was for us, and walked home the next day - not such a great idea) I would go for it.

2pt4kids Tue 03-Feb-09 18:01:51

Gosh, cant believe so may bad experiences at the Royal Free!
Wish I'd known that before DS1 was born there and maybe things wouldnt have gone so pear shaped!

Mammina Tue 03-Feb-09 18:14:37

Just to add to Turniphead's comment, even though I didn't give birth there (breech), Edgware Birth Centre is lovely. Only difficulties I've heard of is when you need to be transferred, sometimes Barnet can be full so you have to go to the next hospital wherever that is.
averagemum if you had your DC at the whittington in september and say it was cramped, was this pre or post 'refurb'?

SnowlightMcKenzie Tue 03-Feb-09 22:11:49

Thank you Turniphead. Yes it was me, you were talking to in my wild pre-birth panic and thank you again.

I have heard fantastic things about J&L but wouldn't be able to afford it. However, if I could, my experience at the Edgware would probably have me booking there again. It was great.

hellymelly Tue 03-Feb-09 22:15:42

do not go to the Royal Free! no no no! UCH is the best of those,the whittington is not on my radar much I must admit,but my friend nearly died there some years ago so that sways me away from it,it wasn't in the maternity dept I hasten to add.UCH is great,they have the best consultants and the best expertise.I am an oledr mother too and I had two babies there,in the old building.The new building rather more glam!

hellymelly Tue 03-Feb-09 22:19:43

I want to add that the RF is totally disorganised and they are very bad at communicating between teams.If you have an easy birth then anywhere would probably be fine,but if there are probs with the pregnancy at any point then I would recommend UCH.

januarysnowdrop Wed 04-Feb-09 11:12:28

Just had dd2 at UCH in the birthing centre last week - I had dd1 there as well in June 2007 in the old building. Both times it was great - good ante-natal care (I saw the same midwife for every appointment during this pregnancy), lovely midwife for the birth: she really inspired confidence and I ended up with no stitches, woo hoo! The new building is a bit soulless and the windows are frosted so you can't see out which I thought was a shame, but on the other hand I had my own bathroom which was heavenly - last time round I had to stumble down the corridor to the loo which wasn't much fun, especially after giving birth. They let you stay in your own room in the birthing centre after the birth if they're not too busy, so I didn't have to go to the post-natal ward on either occasion.

averagemum Wed 04-Feb-09 17:40:26

Migola - I think it was pre-, in fact I think we were all in some random temporary ward while the furb was happening (which might explain things!). Good luck with it all.

Mammina Wed 04-Feb-09 19:33:55

ok great, thanks. whatever they've done can only be an improvement.
my mum's face when she walked in was a picture!

theyoungvisiter Wed 04-Feb-09 19:43:07

I've had 2 babies at the Whit, I'd echo the "run-down but caring staff" review, though of course like anywhere it depends who you get on the day and how busy they are, a lot of it is luck of the draw.

If you are lucky enough to be low-risk they do have an absolutely superb home birth team, I honestly couldn't rate them higher, it was complete 4* luxury after a hospital birth!

I have numerous friends who've used both RF and UCH. Anecdotally I've heard that UCH is very good but seems to be quite interventionist and "medical" iykwim. RF seems to be ok if you are lucky enough to have a straight-forward pregnancy, labour and delivery, but they don't seem to cope as well with complicated scenarios as the other two. I know of a couple of people who had hellish experiences at the RF and one who had a bad time at UCH. I don't know anyone who had a bad delivery at the Whit although few people have good things to say about the post-natal wards... hth..

wobbegong Wed 04-Feb-09 20:02:53

What nkf said: Your individual experience will depend on your labour and the midwives on the night. Do you want to know a secret? It probably doesn't matter. I'd say go for your nearest. Think about not just the labour but how you will get to ante-natal appointments and if your baby needs to stay in/ go back into hospital afterwards. (I don't mean to be depressing, it happened to me and I was very glad that I had chosen a hospital which is easy to get to. The Whittington BTW. Horrible postnatal ward but by then you're past caring because you're clutching a baby!).

Also, the canteen does nice curries once a week. grin

fiplus4 Wed 04-Feb-09 20:23:47

Had all 4 of mine at the Whit from age of 35 to 41. First was a 31 week poorly premmie who had the most brilliant care in NICU, then two high risk pregnancies - one IUGR and one with twins. Echo that the prenatal experience was better than post natal (for me, not the LOs!). Supportive staff much more important than the state of the curtains.

agraves Fri 06-Feb-09 14:42:00

I have asked my GP to refer me to RF, the closet hospital to us... but reading this chat, I am now not sure if I made the right decission.
I am terrified of pain and brith, I am only 7 weeks pregnant and I have had insomnia for the last week, wondering how labour will be.
Do you think that going private is a definite solution to my worries?
Will that provide a piece of mind? and a propper care?

dinkystinky Fri 06-Feb-09 20:22:02

Agraves - maybe you should look into engaging a doula to be with you during the birth; they'll help you work through your issues before the birth...

I gave birth to DS at the Royal Free in 2006 and had a horrible time, but that was down to one particularly crap midwife during my labour and several awful midwives on the postnatal ward; however, to be fair, I did come across a few wonderful midwives while I was there and the SCBU team were all absolutely fantastic! My birth doula lives close to the Royal Free and apparently they are trying to work with local doulas to see what they can do to improve womens' birth experiences there - that at least shows that they are aware of a problem and have some wish to rectify it... Please also bear in mind that you can always change hospitals if you're unhappy with the RF...

However, am pregnant with no 2 and have moved to a different area of London so have booked in at a different hospital (as had more of a choice this time). One of my friends is booked in at the Royal Free for her second baby (she had the first one there but had a better experience than me) and has told me that while the midwives are fine, the new computer system is awful and means huge delays waiting for scans, referrals etc. - I hope that all gets sorted out before you go there.

elkiedee Sat 07-Feb-09 02:09:06

Just home from my rather surprising 2nd birth at the Whittington. Didn't have to be induced, labour seemed to be progressing well and then baby was distressed and ended up with a c-section. I hope to write up both my birth experience and something about the postnatal experience as someone who wants to be a successful breastfeeder this time round, but have a lot of good things to say this time round. However, I also think that while my birth circumstances certainly were not in my control, there are other things you can prepare for - mine was on how to persuade people to help and support my feeding decisions after the birth...

FeelingLucky Sat 07-Feb-09 08:17:20

Congratulations elkiedee! smile

I had my one and only DD at the Whittington in May 2007 too. Was induced and delivered with the help of a ventouse. Wasn't too impressed by the midwife who told me to push for about 45 minutes when I wasn't fully dilated. Neither was I impressed by the doctor pushing me to have a c-section. However, once the morning shift came on the staff were brilliant. Midwife made me breastfeed DD straight away and though the wards were a bit grotty looking everything was clean and I was well looked after despite them being understaffed.
Will definitely have next one at Whittingdon if I ever manage to get pregnant again grin

BTW - I've not heard one good experience about Royal Free from any real live Mums.

MrsMattie Sat 07-Feb-09 14:40:02

Maybe things have changed since I had my first child at the RF in 2005, but can I just say - my bad experience was very far from being down to 'being unlucky' or 'just one bad midwife'. The level of care on the antenatal ward (where I was induced) and then on the postnatal ward afterwards were both shocking. I saw a total of 10 different midwives in 8 days, plus various SHOs, registrars and a consultant. From start to finish, it was grim. I ended up with a c-section, and thank God the one positive part of my 8 days of hell was the actual operation (went smoothly) and the theatre staff (lovely). The rest of it was just a great big blur of horribleness.

UCH was like a holiday camp in comparison!

purplemyrtle Sat 07-Feb-09 17:30:20

I had my first in the RF in 2007, and would second what MrsMattie says, there were clearly institutional problems which led to a horrible experience. I too would say my surgery was one of the few things that went well! However I would say that since then from what I've heard they've made a lot of changes which should improve things, and a friend recently had a much better experience there. Have chosen to go elsewhere for no2 though as I feel no need to relive the memories!

elkiedee Sun 08-Feb-09 05:59:49

I think that if you've had a bad experience in one hospital, that's an excellent argument for going somewhere else. The important thing though is to prepare for what you'd ideally like - your birth may not go according to plan. After the last few days I've concluded it's pretty essential you don't just take what you're given in postnatal care.

If you want to breastfeed and you're in a hospital with a pro-bf policy, and you get pushed into formula top ups on the hospital ward (I at one point was eavesdropping on two wildly different pieces of advice for women/couples on their first day with new babies), you may need to sniff out breastfeeding counsellors, the more pro-bf midwives on the ward, and keep telling them you need bf support, for example.

dinkystinky Sun 08-Feb-09 09:52:30

I absolutely agree with you Elkiedee - the only way I managed to bf my DS (after birth at RF in 2006) was because I had got in touch with a BF peer supporter BEFORE the birth and she was a star and came up to the hospital for all 4 days I was in there to help me get to grips with BFing. The midwives were not particularly helpful on that. The surestart breastfeeding clinic in Kentish Town (at the Harmood Childrens Centre, run on Mondays 10.30-12.30 by Helen Wright, a WONDERFUL midwife) was where I met my BF peer supporter - any one planning to BF who lives in north london around that area, I'd definitely recommend going along while pregnant to get the support network in place before your baby arrives.

merryberry Sun 08-Feb-09 10:52:13


Not necessarily, Elkiedee. I had a miserable experience with ds1's labour at UCH, but there was so muhc else that I felt was positive and excellent there, that I wanted to have my second child at UCH as well. I felt very much that the problems had been purely down to certain individuals. With dd's labour I insisted that these particular individuals not come anywhere near me - and had an excellent and very satisfactory experience. The 'good' labour totally wiped out the unpleasant memories and distress of the 'bad' labour.

elkiedee Wed 08-Apr-09 20:11:30

Hi Sazza if you're still around, did you decide where to have your baby, and how is your pregnancy going?

I've realised that several people have posted experiences of the Whittington from before October 2008 - when they refurbished maternity and opened a new postnatal ward. They're also opening a birth centre which might just be in time for you (think it was due to open this month).

Hopefully you'll avoid freak weather conditions which lead to all London buses being cancelled - the Whittington has very little parking even for staff and that was a real issue on the day I went into labour. However, parking is likely to be a real problem at Royal Free or UCH as well, given their location. My nearest hospital (North Middlesex in Edmonton) is easier to park at, but not to get to by public transport - as wobbegong mentions these things really matter in difficult circusmtances such as your baby and/or yourself being kept in or readmitted.

MoreLikeMiranda Mon 13-Apr-09 21:08:06

I have something positive to say about the RF!

I thought it was spotlessly clean and the midwives were fantastic (the one who stayed with me through the labour was awesome and I am so glad she was with me - Abbey).

Admittedly the anenatal care was hurried and I felt like I was in a system and it wasn't personal. I never saw the same person twice.

I had my heart set on the natural birth in the fantastic birthing centre but had to be induced.

I was very disappointed with the Dr's. I had a what felt like a ridiculous amount of Dr's putting their hands in me, it seemed like every 5min someone would come and give me a sweep and I didn't like their manner. There was one Dr inparticular who really hurt me physically and was very rude to me. I complained to the midwife and thankfully never saw that doc again.

The main thing that really upset me was not the emergency c-section. But that I only got to look at my baby briefly before they whisked him away with DP whislt they stitched me up. It was a whole hour before I saw him again and got to hold him. This wasn't due to being sewn up, but due to them not having the correct bed to take me into the next room where my baby was. sad

But I must emphasise that the midwives and support staff were excellent during my stay and the ward was immaculate.

BanKen Thu 14-May-09 22:48:43


I am currently carrying identical twins and was recommended to go to the Royal Free even though I live 10 mins away from Chase Farm. So far I have nothing good to say about the Royal Free, the staff, midwifes and Consultant (Economides) have been rude and unhelpful. I am 20 weeks and I have only had one appointment with my midwife and one with my consultant - even though identical twin pregnancies should be more closely monitored. On each visit I have come out of there in tears. If I knew where else was better (UCH really is too far) then I would go elsewhere.

Mamulik Thu 14-May-09 22:53:19

I had my DD2 at Whittington in September 2008 and I loved it! I had fantastic midwife - Agnes, who looked after me like my mum, she was so good!

SympatheticConsultant Sat 16-May-09 08:33:25

Hi "Banken",
I'm sorry you've had such poor hospital experiences at the RFree so far sad. I am one of the Consultant's working there.
Have you contacted Sister Anne Marie Whitewright? She is the midwivery sister that runs the Fetal Medicine Centre there and is very approachable.
I'm assuming your scan appt.s have been up on the FMU(5th flr) rather than in the main scan dept(Grnd flr)? Try and give her a call via switchboard (ask for Sister Anne Marie Whitewright on the Fetal Medicine Unit) or better still pop in and see her when you are next at the RFree. If she is not around then ask to speak to Kathy McGregor who works in the same office.
They should both be able to help and give you the support you need at the moment. Tell her whats been upsetting you I am sure they will helpsmile!

SamJamsmum Sat 16-May-09 08:37:06

The birth centre at the Royal Free is brilliant. Post-natal care is rough so you want to get out asap. I was there in 2004 so perhaps it has improved.
Whittington has lovely staff but post-natal care can also be a bit questionable.
I found Whittington antenatal care to be better. I would vote Whittington unless you are going to the birth centre.

SamJamsmum Sat 16-May-09 08:38:31

I should have read to the end of the thread and noted the date! Apologies.

WildeRose Sat 16-May-09 18:24:04

whittington are nice folks

NigellaTufnel Sat 16-May-09 22:37:10

Avoid the Royal Free!

1. The reception staff at the ante natal clinic would not talk. Simply gestured that where to sit with a pointed finger, or gestured they would not talk to me with the palm of their hand.

2. The midwife (name begins with an F) I had in labour was appalling - had me pushing at nine cms, told me "Mummies don't swear" when I said "Fuck, this hurts", and wouldn't answer me when I was pleading: "Is it worth it?" Was dismissive, and generally pretty horrible
Ended up with a emcs.

3. The post natal ward was filthy, I bled on the toilet floor, so I staggered out to tell someone. It took 12 hours to get it cleaned up. I didn't wash once as the shower was disgusting, covered in hair, blood and dirt.

4. My C Section wound was not tended properly. Only had one vaguely sympathetic midwife in the post natal ward.

5. And no private rooms - I had a woman chanting ALL night in the bed across from me.

On the plus side - the big ticket work was great. The anesthsitist was wonderful, as was the surgical team.
And I had no desire to linger, I was up and out as soon as they would let me.

Never again.

My overriding feeling was that I was treated with a huge lack of respect. I don't expect people to bow and scrape, but I do think that I merit eye contact, or to be treated with a little bit of kindness.

That said, I will be forever grateful that I now have my wonderful ds.

ingles2 Sat 16-May-09 22:45:49

I didn't have a good experience at UCH... (a long time ago now though in 1999)
I was induced, which was delayed for days, then had a slow and painful labour which in the end was very normal and boring. Because it was nothing special, I was completely ignored. I imagine UCH is very good for specialized/problematic births.
I had my 2nd at Homerton which was fantastic! Could that be an option?

SympatheticConsultant Sun 17-May-09 00:14:27

Hi NigellaTufnell,
I'm so sorry you seem to have had an awful experience at the RFree.
Can I ask how long ago it was? I joined the unit last year together with :
4 other new Consultants,
A new Head of Midwifery and
3 new Midwifery matrons
purely to improve the safety and experience of mother's coming through our unit. I'd be keen to know if this experience was still the prevalent one by most of our mothers?? We've been trying to rectify a recognised problem and its disheartening to hear if this is still happening!!

NigellaTufnel Sun 17-May-09 23:07:57

It was June 2007, so a while ago.

I really hope things have improved, not only for patients, but for staff too.

It must feel as if you are constantly being shouted at! I know it sounds awful, but I did find the more senior staff better than the more junior ones.

hellymelly Sun 17-May-09 23:11:50

UCH .I had both mine there (in the old building).Lovely consultants.Great birthing centre staff.All the horror stories I have heard are always the Royal Free and I had a bad experience with them when dd2 was injured.the communication there between teams is terrible.I had a very experienced Doula and she agreed about the Royal Free,avoid it if possible.

SympatheticConsultant Mon 18-May-09 13:52:44

Thanks Nigella,
I joined the unit at the RFree Sept 2008 and thankfully there have been major changes on the unit since the time you had your baby, both staffing and procedure wise. We now have more dedicated Consultant presence on the delivery suite then both of our other local Trusts and we have a Consultant dedicated to oversee the Postnatal ward where I know many of the problems have been in the past (but this is unfortunately also the case in other maternity units in general).
Unfortunately the RFree has had a lot of bashing on the MN forums sad and I fully accept it was not without due reason.
But things do change and so many of us here now are really trying to make it a safer and better environment for pregnant mothers,babies and father's to be!
Its ashame more of our current mums are not as active on the forums and not posting about the good experiences they are now having on the unit -hopefully with time you will start to see some positive feedback filtering through! smile

MrsMattie Mon 18-May-09 13:57:46

I appreciate what you've said SympatheticConsultant, but I'm afraid as recently as 3 months ago a friend of mine had a ghastly experience at the RF, echoing (to a scary extent) a lot of what happened to me back in 2005, when I had my first child there.

I know that most hospitals - especially the big London teaching hospitals - have mixed reviews, but the RF does seem to have a pretty dire reputation on the 'word-of-mouth' front in my area of north London - at NCT groups, toddler groups, in the school playground etc. That can't be for no good reason.

I wish I had made a formal complaint about my treatment at the Royal Free, but I was too unwell and depressed at the time to go through with it. sad

My experience in Nov 2008 at UCH was a world away from my experience at the RF. A lovely experience, where I felt totally cared for and looked after.

SympatheticConsultant Mon 18-May-09 14:11:25

Mrs Mattie,
I'm sorry to hear about your friend. Has she been back to the RFree for a follow-up appointment with her Consultant and for a chance to get debriefed as to what happened in her pregnancy/labour?

MrsMattie Mon 18-May-09 14:54:06

I think she spoke to a midwife on the phone, who asked her to put it in writing. Don't know if she has done.

SympatheticConsultant Mon 18-May-09 18:50:51

Well if she does still want to see someone, i would be happy to have a look at her notes & then arrange an appt to meet & go through things with her!

MrsMattie Mon 18-May-09 21:01:19

Thanks SC. I will let her know.

LadyAga Fri 29-May-09 21:29:24

I don't know how to spell his name but it sounds like Dr JaJa is at the RF and he is absolutely wonderful.

I was terrified and having an awful time, some of the doctors were unpleasant but he made me feel safe and I trusted him completely.

The midwife called Abbey who previously worked with him in Africa was awesome and not a day goes by when I am not grateful that she was with me during my labour.

SympatheticConsultant ; please thank these two wonderful people for me.

SympatheticConsultant Fri 29-May-09 23:08:22

Dear LadyAga,
It is Mr JaJa,I will convey your gratitude and I'm glad they both made your pregnancy and delivery a more manageable experience.

Hope you are both doing well now!

Notquiteamum Wed 03-Jun-09 17:08:47


Excuse the intrusion (I am a man) as I stumbled on to this discussion while googling something. My wife and I have just lost our baby after 16 weeks due to Patau Syndrome and I would like to just stick up for the Royal Free as I see it comes in for a bit of stick. While things aren't all perfect with the system at the Royal Free and you do have to make sure your appointments are booked etc, I believe that when things do go wrong with the pregnancy (as in our case) then it does have its strengths. In particular Anne Marie Whitewright who is an outstanding midwife, very caring, sensitive and professional and runs the Fetal Medicine Unit on the 5th Floor was a major help in us dealing with our experience. Also the consultant we saw Miss Kadir was also very professional and competent my wife and I would trust her completely. While I obviously have no experience of the other hospitals or full term labour, I do believe that if you do have a high risk pregnancy there are worse places to be then the Royal Free Hospital. It is a big hospital and it does have the resources when needed.

Elpis Fri 05-Jun-09 22:06:53

UCH. I was in labour for a long time and finally had an ends, and the midwife teams and surgeon were fantastic. The new building is clean and generally well run, though I did have some trouble getting discharged, and I'd have appreciated it if they banned TVs after midnight. Antenatal care was excellent.

A colleague of mine is currently having an unhappy time at the Whittington maternity ward, and the A&E is poor, but no doubt it has some strengths - I just haven't heard about or seen them.

SympatheticConsultant Fri 05-Jun-09 23:08:45

Hi Notquiteamum,
I'm so sorry for the loss of your baby, it is the most difficult aspect of our job when we have to break such sad news and manage such difficult situations.
I am so grateful you took the time to share your experence at the Royal Free with others for what was and must still be a difficult time.
I have known Anne Marie Whitewright since I was a medical student at the Royal Free many years ago and as you say she is an out-standing Midwife who has touched the lives of so many parents in a positive way. I will feedback to Anne Marie next week, Rezan Kadir is a friend and close colleague who also now is developing an unmatched international reputation for managing pregnant mother's with Haemophilia and other bleeding conditions. Women with such conditions are transferring their care to us from other eminent Maternity units across London.
But Anne Marie & Miss Kadir are 2 amongst many of our staff who are striving to make this a better unit.
We are well aware of the problems with the RFree appt system and next week we are bringing in major changes to remedy this long-standing issue. We have our faults but we do also have many strengths which often go unmentioned! wink

hellymelly Fri 05-Jun-09 23:43:34

I posted earlier with a negative post about the royal free,but I must say I am so impressed with Sympathetic consultant and her/his kindness and enthusiasm that I am slightly swayed!

MrsMattie Sat 06-Jun-09 12:12:41

I have kept track of this thread.

I too am impressed with Sympathetic Consultant and hope that the RF genuinely has improved it's maternity care since I had my first baby there.

On a personal note, it is difficult for me to be generous when talking about the RF. I felt that they treated me like as less-than-human (not just one, but many members of staff) and put my health at risk through negligence. I still don't like to think about my son's birth.

However, I take on board all that SC has said and of course, NotQuiteAMum's touching story of his experiences at the RF. It bodes very well indeed.

rayner Sat 13-Jun-09 23:37:21

Message deleted

annaspans Wed 24-Jun-09 13:37:31

I gave birth to my first baby on 3 June in the birth centre at the Royal Free and had a really wonderful experience there. Despite the fact it was a very busy night, the care we received was never anything less than first-class, the room we were in was spotless and, most importantly, the fantastic midwives who were with me (Ana and Katie) knew exactly when to stand back and let me do what my body wanted to do.

After an initial trip to triage in the afternoon (where the two midwives were also delightful and came by the following morning to see the baby when their shift started again) due to my waters having broken, we came back to the hospital when my contractions were about two minutes apart and were lucky enough to get the room with the pool. However, within ten minutes of getting in the room, I was already fully dilated and wanting to push, but I was still allowed to get in the pool and my little girl had a lovely serene arrival underwater (and I didn't tear, partly due to very clear instructions about breathing from Katie when the head was being born). There was then no hurry to clamp the cord and get us out of the pool (waiting for the cord to stop pulsating was on my birth plan, all of which Ana had read thoroughly - without being asked to - the minute we were in the room) and also a willingness to let me deliver the placenta naturally, despite this taking over an hour and a half. (In fact, I did need some intervention in the end, but this was only encouraged once it was clear it was necessary, as opposed to being a clock-watching exercise.)

Because it was such a busy night, there were no beds on the postnatal ward so we got to stay in the delivery room for the rest of the night (and watched the sun come up over London) and because all was well and the paediatrician was available to come and check the baby first thing in the morning, we went home after ten hours and I never did go to the ward.

As for antenatal appointments, I had no problems at all with my scans - was always seen promptly and felt that the sonographers did a thorough job. I also saw the same community midwife every time from around 25 weeks so had great continuity of care on that front. Finally, on the odd occasion I was worried about something and called either the midwives or the labour ward, I always got a friendly and reassuring response.

Honestly, my partner and I can't fault the care the Royal Free provided us and I'm sure we can't be an isolated case, so I really hope any problems of the past don't continue to haunt the department now they're doing such a great job.

jobo87 Thu 25-Jun-09 10:12:57

hi i had my 1st in EGA uch and was not happy with the way i was treated an would not go back there, i have chosen to have this baby in the whittington so far so good every hospital has there problems but i am finding everything good at whittington so far good luck

NKffffffffaa102579X121e9c641da Wed 08-Jul-09 17:22:43

Hi. I have been referred to EGA as well and got the first appointment with Mrs Tahouri. has anybody seen her before? thanks


umf Thu 09-Jul-09 19:23:08

I had DS in Royal Free in late 2006 and still can't sleep if I starting thinking about how awful the experience was - despite his eventual safe arrival.

The Birth Centre midwives were skilled and caring. The BC was clean and well set up (although I was left alone for much of labour). I have nothing else positive to say about the place.

I don't think the problems were one-offs which might happen anywhere. I recognize most of the issues raised by other women on this thread, suggesting they're common and persistent. The problems I had were mostly structural, to do with hopeless internal organisation and communication.

Just one example to illustrate general atmosphere: like NigellaTufnel I found staff don't greet or look at the pregnant women. This was particularly noticeable in the Day Assessment Unit where you are supposed to go if you have a problem in pregnancy (not that anyone tells you that) - and where the women coming in are therefore often very frightened. The midwives snatch their notes without even looking up. And not because they're busy - I once sat and waited for 45 minutes while the midwife arranged her home insurance on the phone.

It is encouraging that SympatheticConsultant is concerned about the hospital's reputation. However, I can't see how maternity services there could have been made even adequate without replacing most of the staff and completely refiguring the management.

I wonder if they've now set up a 'birth afterthoughts' where women can go back and talk to someone about how it all went - and where the feedback gets into the system. These seem to be spreading and give an indication of whether hospitals are concerned about their users' experiences.

lucymum2four Thu 09-Jul-09 23:20:15

Hi there,
Had all mine at uch. in the birthing centre.(i was even born there). Brilliant staff. and have excellenct specialist/equipment. and really clean.
I have lots of friends who have had babies at royal free. not one has anything good to say. reading rest of the threads! seems thats the general opinion! Good luck xx

umf Fri 10-Jul-09 09:15:19

Royal Free-ers: I've started a new thread about the RF. Curious to hear if women currently/recently using maternity services there are seeing improvements.

SympatheticConsultant Sun 12-Jul-09 23:39:40

Hi umf,

"However, I can't see how maternity services there could have been made even adequate without replacing most of the staff and completely refiguring the management"

This is exactly what has happened over the last 12 months. A new midwifery management team has been brought in and many of the "older members" of staff who were 'a recognised problem' have retired or been sacked (where concerns have been raised and not rectified)! Unfortunately within the NHS as a whole dealing or removing staff with attitude issues towards clients and other staff is not always an easy process to undertake. But I do believe that most of the problem areas within our unit have now been dealt with.

We have now doubled the number of dedicated Obstetricians working within the Unit over the last 12 months. Miss Alison Wright is running a post-natal debrief clinic for mums that have had difficult experiences and would benefit from an opportunity to talk through events afterwards. She is also heavily involved with the MSLC.
Five of us new Consultants started last year and it has been a difficult struggle for us to start reversing some of the negative perceptions the unit has developed over the preceding years. We are doing are best and there is a very different feeling about the unit now.

We are actively working to bring about an atmosphere within the unit, that we exist to serve and meet the needs of our users. Within the last 6 months we have been targetting all the staff groups to go through REACT training courses (User Awareness courses)to ensure they recognise the central needs of the user within our service provision.

The computer system was unfortunately forced upon us by higher powers and we are unlikely to be able to get rid of it. We have been placed in a "guinea pig" role where we are a testing ground for the system before the system is rolled out across most of the other London Trusts. This has not helped us, but I think we are now aware of the deficiencies of the system and together with the programmers are and have identified workarounds for the major issues.

Our current service drive is to ensure 90% of all referrals are booked by 12 weeks! We are aiming to get all mothers an appointment within 2 weeks of being referred and have stream-lined our appointment system accordingly. The new system went live this month and I would hope all mothers booked with us will see immediate and visible improvements.

Another longer term and more difficult goal is to ensure all women are seen in the ANC within 30 minutes! This is a problem I recognise that most Obstetric units struggle with.

We are all aware of the historical problems and the new team are actively dealing with them.

I am very keen to hear user experiences on all aspects of the service but would be very keen to hear experiences of current users or those who have been through the unit within the last 6 months. I'm especially keen to hear direct user experiences (positive and negative) relating to the following areas:
- Day Assessment Unit
- Triage and Delivery Suite
- The Birth Centre
- 5 South Antenatal and Postnatal ward

Unfortunately what has happened before I had no control over but I am now in a position to sanction actions to bring about changes in how we as a service function when deficiencies are flagged up!

We now really do want to meet and indeed exceed the expectations of our parents! smile

oopsagain Sun 12-Jul-09 23:54:33

I have a freind who recently gave brithat Roayl free.
I'm afraid her experience is absolutely dreadful.
I was slack jawed at some of the things that ahppened to her dueing her visits there.
she is absolutely fuming and incredibly angry with large number of the staff at the hosp and then special care ababy unit.

I'll get her to email you or post on here if she has the time/energy.
maybe it's a bit raw just now and she needs to recover a bit beofre she can talka bout it.
But it really is appallin the way she was treated.
I can't go into specifics as it is her private information...

SympatheticConsultant Tue 14-Jul-09 19:21:14

Hi oopsagain!
I'm sorry to hear your friend has had such a poor experience. Obviously its difficult to comment unless I review her case details.
Once she has had a chance to recover from the delivery it sounds as though she would benefit from the opportunity to talk things through with either myself or one of the other Consultants.
I'm not sure how it would be best for her to contact me so that I can make the appropriate arrangements.
Is there a way to send private messages on the forums?

naturopath Tue 14-Jul-09 23:20:41

Just to add - I also gave birth at RF in June 2007 and had a terrible experience (unsympathetic midwives, being blamed for not being sure my waters had meconium - surely that's their job?, awful awful pain with not enough pain relief and no-one listening to me, not being handed my baby for some time after birth, broken shower, being left with blood pouring out, cramped, noisy ward etc etc etc...) the list goes on. I'm sure it might have changed since then.

shakespeare Thu 16-Jul-09 08:33:58

I just had my baby at UCH (had a choice between Whittington and Homerton). I couldn't resist the fact that its a brand new maternity unit and it didn't disappoint, staff were great, maternity ward squeeky clean.

NZmama Fri 24-Jul-09 12:27:25

I was googling something else and stumbled across this thread which made me realise I am not alone in feeling disappointed at my royal free birth experience. My son was born in oct 2007, so things may be better now. Basically I chose RF because of birth centre. On night I went in, the birth centre was busy and so in no time at all I was hooked up to all sorts of monitors in the normal lab ward and not encouraged to move around at all. The first couple of midwives were nice but the last one who was there for delivery was extremely old school. She told me I was better off lying on my back and that most first time mothers thought it was better to be upright when in fact lying on bed was better. When my husband tried to ask if the birth centre was now available she was very grumpy. She said a doctor had to check me first as my sons heart was going down in contractions. Anyway be said it was ok as long as I gave birth out of water. She piled on so much guilt that I didn't go to birth centre. She said "I am speaking to you as a mother myself and you are risking your baby's life if you go there, it's up to you...." ...so in a lot of pain not thinking straight I stayed put and eventually gave birth naturally to a whopper of a 9lb7 baby. Right, got that off my chest! Been meaning to write to hospital! Next time round UCH I think!

Ponkey Fri 24-Jul-09 17:16:35


I'm 25 weeks and just had my first appointment at UCLH. Until now I was at The Whittington but had a few horrible experiences, appointments not booked, staff being rude and very patronising (I have forgotten my book once and have been asked what kind of mother I will be...). Also felt very depressed and tired and just been told I should be happy as it was the happiest time of my life.
Plus the antenatal and maternity section are very old and not always super clean.

At UCLH, people I've seen today were really helpful and nice. It was busy and I had to wait for a long time but I felt much better in a modern environment where things don't fall apart and people take time to explain things thourougly. I've seen a midwife called Evelyn Williams, lovely and funny.

Very happy to have changed.

LondonDove Fri 24-Jul-09 20:45:59

I am SO confused now.

I went on a tour at RF two weeks ago and thought it looked fantastic. All the midwives smiled at us and said hello. The rooms were clean and bright and apparently they all have ensuites. The midwife showing us around was really patient and happy to answer questions despite there being about 50 people crammed into the room. But what I really appreciated was her effort to ensure the privacy of the women on the wards by walking ahead of the group to close ward doors and stop nosy parkers intruding as we went by.

Additionally when I enquired about twin births the midwife told me a new Consultant Midwife would be starting in August and I could have at least some hope of having a birth plan. No promises made but the implication was that if things went well I could use the birth centre.

Then compare that to my experience at the Whittington.

When I first rang I was told that I couldn't join the tour as I hadn't booked. I should just turn up around 3pm and a Care Assistant would show me round. So I did. When I finally found someone to talk to I was told fairly bluntly that I couldn't expect a tour of my own and I should go on the Saturday tour. Could the left hand talk to the right?!

So I waited a week to go on the tour. The midwife was monosyllabic. The room felt dark and dingy and everyone on the tour seemed scared to ask questions. To make matters worse, a woman was half on view recovering in the recovery room opposite. When I asked about twin births I was pretty much told I'd be attached to a bed and monitors and that was that. Then when someone asked about birth balls the response was that there were a few around... somewhere.

As she took then to see the birth centre I veered left and out the door!

So I've booked at the RF. But now I'm worried I've made a bad decision. Help!

SympatheticConsultant Sat 25-Jul-09 10:10:02

Hi LondonDove,
Please give the services at the Royal Free we are really trying to restructure to give our mothers a much better service now. There have been lots of changes for the better over the last 12 months.
Are you having a twin pregnancy? If so you may end up being booked under my care or that of one of the other Fetal Medicine Consultants!
We have the highest level of dedicated consultant presence on the labour ward amongst all our neighbouring maternity units. as a results our historicallly hih CS rates are falling for the first time in many years!Our new Consultant Midwife starts next month and one of her main aims is to further develop up our Birth Centre.
So if you are keen for a vaginal birth with a twin pregnancy we will do our utmost to ensure the conditions are optmised with senior staff on hand to guide you through the process! smile

dikkertjedap Mon 27-Jul-09 10:36:34

Had my daughter at UCH. Most awful experience of my life, staff genuinely could not care less. Lucky that both I and my dd survived (this was truly in spite of the UCH rather than thanks to the UCH), lots of infighting between midwives and nurses. Nobody takes responsibility, no doctors to be seen (especially not during nights, weekends). Would certainly not recommend to anybody. Later was advised by private paediatrician who had seen the full records, to sue, but could not face having to go through all this again. Definitely made me decide not to have another child. sad

pecanpie Tue 28-Jul-09 13:49:57

I had a relatively good experience at Royal Free in July 07 with my DD. Midwives during labour were absolutely amazing - especially a lady called Sue. Post natal care was hideous and I couldn't wait to get out of there - almost discharged myself because they were so slow.

I've since had a bad experience with UCH which was to do with a miscarriage so won't go into it here, but they made lots of promises to me which they didn't make any effort to keep. While their administration is great and waiting times seemed relatively short, they don't really seem to genuinely care.

I'm back in the system at Royal free at the EPU and they have been so fantastic that if things work out, I am going to book in with them. My only hope is that antenatal appointments don't run an hour late for the first appointment of the day - there was no excuse for that first time round.

pecanpie Tue 28-Jul-09 16:07:06

and just to add, having been discharged from the EPU last week, I'm worried after having had a bug over the weekend and they were really easy to sort out a check up with.

When I was initially referred there by my doctor, I was happy to go to either uch or royal free, but the doctor said she found it much easier to get me the appointment at royal free. UCH are definitely bogged down with trying to keep their paperwork in order and keeping up the appearance of being organised without having any emotional concern for the patient.

Ponkey Sat 15-Aug-09 10:02:19

After 3 appointments including a scan at UCH (coming from the awful Whittington) I must say I'm extremely pleased.

-All the midwifes I've met until now are nice, have taken time to talk AND listen tome, have answered questions and been very supportive

- the scan was an great experience with two doctors, giving explanation on what they were doing, how the baby was doing, what we could see, even got to see my baby's face in 3d and the gel they put on your belly what warm!

- When booked for parenting classes over the phone I received a confirmation letter 2 days later

- the environment is clean, reassuring, modern

Really, after having had bad experience at Whittington, UCH appears like a 5 stars hospital to me. Hopefully it will last.

pecanpie Thu 20-Aug-09 11:10:23

Just hope that you don't have to have surgery at UCH (I did for a miscarriage). I had a bed with dirty (looked like dried blood) sheets, curtain was also covered in what looked like a huge tea stain, I was given a blanket on my way down to surgery which had lots of random stuff like surgical tape welded onto it. It might be shiny and new but it is at the very least no cleaner than the other hospitals which appear dirtier on a surface level because they are older.

babymom Fri 25-Sep-09 17:39:00

I had a great experience at the UCH throughout my pregnancy, but labour was another story.

I switched from Homerton, as they were totally disorganised and understaffed. For my midwife appointments, everyone at UCH was professional, helpful, nice...

For delivery, I started out at the Bloomsbury Birthing Centre, with a very nice, if hands-off and laid back, midwife, but then I got transferred to the Labour Ward.

The midwife on the Labour Ward was evil, as was the OB-GYN. They told me my pushes were 'disappointing', to 'shhhh' if I made a noise during a contraction, they wanted me on my back at all times and told me I was being selfish (for not wanting my feet in stirrups, and for asking to not be on my back - as I wanted to speed labour up!).

After being thoroughly demoralised by these two bullies, my labour slowed considerably and the delivery ended in forceps.

I would recommend the Birthing Centre - but what's the point, if the minute something goes wrong they'll shunt you to the Labour Ward? Once I switched floors, they totally ignored the remainder of my birth plan, and the service was rude and impersonal. They didn't care, they just wanted to get out of there as soon as possible.

A fine building, a great birthing centre, but don't be fooled by the new facility - the Labour Ward is old school - beware.

ylenia Thu 26-Nov-09 17:20:38

Please do not go to the Whittington. I gave birth to my son there on the 9th of April (a day before Good Friday). Once I arrived there I was made to wait for 2 hours in a waiting room. A matron welcomed me and told me that I was being transferred to another ward because the labour ward was full. I was put in a room on a bed and was left all alone for the entire night. I was visited by a nurse twice, once to attach a machine to me to see how far apart my contractions were and another time in the morning to see how far I was dialated. Unfortunately the nurse was so rough that I asked her to leave and demanded a midwife. When a midwife finally came to check me I was 6cm and I was told that I was going to be taken to the labour ward. 2 hours later I was made to walk to the labour ward and I was 7cm dialated. At that point I was in so much pain and so fed up with the way I was treated I asked for an epidural and after another 2 hours (I was 8cm) it was given to me. The midwife didnt even try to convince me otherwise. After 40 hours I gave birth to my son with ventouse and forceps. It was horrible to say the least. When I was taken to the labour ward I was unable to breastfeed and I was told all sorts from my breasts were not the right shape to my son is not the breastfeeding type. No one even remotely tried to help me to breastfeed. I was made to feel like a complete under achiever. When I went to a breastfeeding group in my area I found out that my son was severrely tongue tied and as a result would not latch on.
The Whittington is a horrible and depressing hospital. The midwives were all very rude and spent their time on their computers rather than assisting to mothers. I wrote a letter to the NHS in May and they still have not acknowledged it. UCH from what I hear is a far better hospital.

Tambajam Thu 26-Nov-09 17:26:26

Depends a bit on the kind of birth you want. The new birth centre at the Whittington is getting great reviews (I am a breastfeeding counsellor locally and come across quite a few women postnatally). The Heath Birth centre at the Royal Free was where I gave birth in 2004 and it was lovely.
I don't think the post natal ward experience is likely to be stunning anyway TBH.
I met a mum today who was a bit disappointed with her experience at UCH and the mum opposite her was really struggling. But I know someone who had her son in special care there and was very impressed.

In a low risk pregnancy I would say - look at Whittington birth centre.

Tambajam Thu 26-Nov-09 17:31:57

Wow - reading through this thread - what a massive variation in opinion! It's like reading about a hotel on tripadvisor.

I meant to say the post natal ward experience is unlikely to be stunning anywhere (not anyway).

Breastfeeding support at the Whittington is really not bad. The postnatal ward is visited by peer supporters, an ABM counsellor, a La Leche League leader and there is a specialist midwife of course. In most hospitals the regular midwives can have patchy knowledge and you need to know who to ask for.

lizzid Tue 12-Jan-10 19:50:47

My friend had a great experience at RF back in april 09 (planned C section), she thought all the doctors were great.

I'd say don't get swayed by reputations. I had my first at St Thomas's and everyone kept telling me how great it was and how lucky I was to be able to go there but the experience though fine (as luckily, I had a very easy birth) in no way lived up to their reputation.

When my water's broke I was told to come in to be checked and when I arrived I had to wait 40 minutes to see a midwife who advised me I'd be better off labouring at home (which I was happy to do) although they'd just need to monitor my baby's heartbeat for a bit (as mine was slightly elevated) so they sent me down to the day assessment unit where I spent the next 5 1/2 hours strapped to a bed behind a curtain only seeing a midwife only 2 or 3 times and for about 15 mins in total!

Twice doctors came in and unplugged the monitor as they said it was too loud! Even though I told them I was waiting for someone to come back and read it. And eventually after my husband repeatedly went and asked for someone to come check me someone would appear, stare at the machine (not even bothering to examine me) and announce that they'd have to start all over again, even though at no point did my baby's heart rate go up or down so it was all completely unnecessary. Eventually the midwife (who seemed very sweet but not at all confident) came back and I told her I really wanted to walk around as it hurt less when I did so and I'd been told repeatedly that lying down would slow down my labour. I told her that I really wanted a water birth and she said she'd try and get a doctor to come and check me as she didn't feel confident doing so and they'd see how dilated I was. 2 hours later no one had come but as I'd been sick I was put in the waiting room for 20 minutes while they cleared it up and then put back behind the curtain.

About 30 mins later unable to cope with the pain lying down I said I needed the loo and eventually someone consented to come and remove the monitor and made a joke about not pushing in case it was the baby... As I started doubling over on the bed they decided maybe my labour was progressing faster than they realised and examined me to find I was 10 cm. I was sent back behind the curtain while someone yelled at someone else on the phone to get me a room and as there was no room in the birth centre at that point I was sent to a room on the labour ward where a (very efficient) midwife came running in took one look at me and said "yes, baby coming now" and then excused herself to go to the loo (presumably she'd just come straight from another delivery) as soon as she returned she insisted I lie on the bed to deliver and that I be monitored AGAIN. But despite lying on my back to deliver the baby came 20 mins later!

As my labour was relatively quick I didn't mind so much at the time that I'd only been offered G & A abour 10 minutes before delivery and the midwife who was with me when I delivered was great, if not a bit old fashioned and the bfing advice and postnatal care was great (although I was dissapointed to end up on the ward which though clean was very noisy, rather than the birthcentre, especially as everyone else there had had horrible emcs so I felt a bit guilty.

Oh and the view from both labour room and postnatal ward was amazing.

Apart from that I can't see how it differs from a lot of RF experiences.

They messed up 2 of my appointments (booked them in the wrong place) and the scans apart from ones at the EPU weren't great and neither were the sonographers. And I had to make a real fuss to get discharged in less than 24 hours which seemed insane considering how busy they were.

Plus it was horrible lying there all that time thinking I was being a complete wuss and actually I was in fairly advanced labour so no wonder it hurt so much! angry And the whole time there were other appointments going on the other side of the curtain so I felt like I had zero privacy.

But most importantly, if I hadn't pretended to need the loo I'd have given birth in the Day assessment Unit! When I saw a member of staff they were perfectly nice but I felt completely neglected and ignored. Which is not what I'd been led to expect from St Thomas' reputation!

Sella Tue 12-Jan-10 21:27:43

I had 1st DD at Whittington 6 years ago (I'm sure it's changed a lot since then) but had a horrible experience. Labour unit v run down and post natal ward horrible atmosphere to be in - hope they've done it up since then. On a positive almost all staff (with a couple of exceptions) were v nice. Have moved up north since then and compared to hospital I had DD2 in Whit was beyond crap.
Sorry to confuse you even more! Hope this helps a bit tho...

Eiza Tue 20-Apr-10 23:15:07

My experience at RF was awful. This was back in 2006 and I am genuinely hoping that things have improved since then. Despite all the bad things I have to say for RF (and I can't believe how similar everyone's experiences were), I still want to vouch for RF for something different as noone seems to talk about this. If things go really bad, you/your baby will be in safe hands. I know this sounds silly but giving birth does not end the process. Due to post-natal care related blunders, my daughter had to be readmitted back to the hospital when she was 6 days old. The care she received was absolutely fantastic. There were three teams visiting us around the clock; she was covered by the neo-natal doctors+nurses as well as the pedi ward doctors+nurses. A team of midwives were regularly checking up on me to provide post natal care. There was also 1-1 BF service. All these in our nice little private room! In 5 days we stayed there, I saw more doctors/nurses/midwives compared to my 42 weeks of pregnancy.

Ponkey Sun 14-Nov-10 22:10:05

Right, I'm back a year later. When I read my messages above, yes I'm happy I changed hospital but what awful experience UCH was!

My son is turning one on Wednesday and I'm starting a therapy tomorrow as I'm still having nightmarres and obsessive ideas turning in my head about the whole experience.

I ended up being induced at UCH 12 days late (12 days!!!!) and it was torture. Went through everything, prefusion, breaking water artificially, blood test in baby's head, etc. I can't fault the doctors who were very clear and I think gave good advice.

I ended up having an emergency csection, lost a massive amount of blood, had a transfusion, had an infection the next day with very high temperature for 3 days, and an allergy to the antibiotics I was given.

Main problems at UCH:

- lack of competence of most of the nurses in post natal ward
- lack of politeness and understanding (I've been shouted at, ignored, and insulted)
- lack of care (my sheet haven't been changed in 10 days, I hadn't had 1 wash in 10 days - my husband had to do it, ...)
- my baby was never looked at, I never had any advise on breastfeeding (I was on Morphine for 3 days and didn't realise what was going on)
- lack of psychology from the staff ('it is nice to see you alive')
- never saw the same doctor twice
-my baby didn't received his antibiotics daily as prescibed because the staff was forgetting
- rooms terribly designed for a new building, no doors, no privacy
- bathroom dirty (it took 3 days for someone to clean blood in the bathroom my 'quarter' was allocated to)
- NO information whatsoever on what was going on with me
- Having to fight to have access to my medical records

I'm never ever going back to UCH (even walking by makes me feel dizzy). I'm horrified that in the UK, in 2009 (at that time), patients can still be treated that way. It is shameful and really I would prefer to pay rather than having to go through such a horrible experience again.
This has put me off having another baby.

I'm not the only one, and not only at UCH. I've met a lot of other mums who have had similar experiences in London and really I don't understand how it is possible nowadays in a first world country.

No woman should have to go through something like this when it is supposed to be the best experience of her life. Staff should be caring, competent, and welcoming, not making you pay for giving them work!

umf Mon 15-Nov-10 17:56:14

Ponkey so sorry to hear about your experience. It's unbelievable, isn't it, that maternity care should be so dreadful in 21st century London? Especially postnatal care. And that people aren't screaming and shouting about it.

Glad you're having therapy. I'm expecting DS2 anytime - exactly 4 years after awful Royal Free experience. It's taken that long to feel up to doing it again - an in a different city. It wasn't until his 3rd birthday that I could enjoy the anniversary. Over his first birthday we actually went abroad so everything would feel as different as possible.

Ponkey Tue 16-Nov-10 20:49:32

I can understand that ou went away umf. I'm not myself this week, since this morning I've been living it again and again, his birthday is tomorrow and I'm really not comfortable.

I've filled in a complaint finally and if I had the courage I would take legal action.

sistersmum Wed 04-Jan-12 23:39:05

Hi, I am 20 weeks pregnant and at the North Middlesex but just about to fill in a self referral form to change to the Whittington as a friend of mine has had her baby there a few months ago (birthing pool) and was very happy.

A bit anxious and would love some advice before I send the form. Has anybody had their baby there recently? I realise that messages have not been posted here since 2010.

Tweetysweety Fri 06-Jan-12 17:08:38

I gave birth at the Whittington, its very run down in terms of age of building etc, but the care is superb. I checked their clinical statistics NHS and compared against the UCH and Royal Free. They have won numerous UNESCO awards for the quality of care that they provide. However and this is a big however, its pot luck as to the quality of midwife you have, in both deliveries I had the most awful complacent, bored to death midwives ever. They were rude and uncaring, neither explained anything and would run and hide in other rooms until their next obs were due. Then the miracle happened, a fantastic , slightly eccentric midwife with a mane of fiery red hair and a gorgeous soothing Irish accent turned up. I actually cried with relief , her banter and kind diligence helped me through it all. The doctors attending were good-I had a very shy male doctor that was the only expert who could check for grazes, and had a reputation for his needle work, he was extremely funny - could barely look me in the eye but was studious in his study of the nether regions, much to my husbands bafflement. The second delivery started the same way, and this time I had a sadistic Indian Doctor who made a sweep and induced me- it was awful- I literally stopped the urges to push in order to have an epidural. He was mean and hateful- I ended up having a ventouse but the student Doctor and the expert in Ventouse another excellent female doctor of Asian origin were superb.
After care was really good too, they let you rest and are not in any mad rush to shove you out, Unlike the Royal Free. They have midwives on the ward who make it their business to help you through your breastfeeding routine. I had a fantastic dutch midwife who called it 'booby juice time', anytime she came in to check up on me and the my baby. Even the cleaning staff two West Indian ladies with the most lovely of accents commented, and sunniest of smiles ' your little boy is no way coming off dem juicy titties uhum - no titties for daddy now (major laughter)'. I was too hot to wear much and my 'ladies' became celebrities of sort. On both occasions giving birth there was completely surreal but overall OK.There are so many variabilities that could and do occur that it is difficult to totally pinpoint an excellent NHS facility. You can limit the things you don't want- I chose on number of experts in their field, statistic for intervention C section etc- the fact that the majority of staff are researchers in their field and that the Whittington has a fantastic reputation for understanding and implementing new policies such as allowing postnatal mothers to rest before being sent home.As this reduces the number of postnatal depression and possible complications. However its completely pot luck as to the quality of midwife attending- next time I will be looking into getting a doula.Good luck

sistersmum Sun 08-Jan-12 13:59:18

Thank you to tweetysweety for her advice. I'm also looking at joining some antenatal classes, mainly to be able to meet other women in the same situation and share experiences including after birth. I have heard the NCT is good. I am in the North London area so I guess it would depend where in North London I join the courses. Anybody has any thoughts? Thank you

DyeInTheEar Tue 18-Sep-12 14:44:47

Anyone given birth in the Whittington recently? I'm due in December with baby number 3 and so far my appointments there have made me feel a bit anxious as they seem so busy and over worked - which just makes me nervous about something going wrong....

I'm low risk and done this twice before but starting to get the labour fear!

Pleasenomorepeppa Tue 18-Sep-12 21:04:29

I'm also undecided between The Whit & UCH. I had DD in The Whit in 2009 & was utterly traumatised. I was literally shaking for about a week after. I was induced at 41+5. Got there at 7pm as asked, was put in a bed in triage & seen about an hour later. After being hooked up to a monitor they decided I was steadily contracting (I hadnt noticed!) & they wouldn't induce me or let me leave, I was to stay in triage. DH was sent ome & I was left listening to people shouting & screaming & being old to stop shouting & screaming! Finally at 3am, still not feeling any contractions, I found a MW & asked if I could go home or be induced. A MW grumpily sent me to my cubicle gav me a pessary & told me to lie flat. An hour later someone else came & asked why I was lying flat, I explained. She was surprised as nowhere was it written I'd been induced.
At 6am I was monitored & feeling mild contractions. Was told that the baby wasnt moving & they'd find a consultant. I rang DH, he came, shift changed, consultant didn't arrive.
Found someone to give me gas & air, then a MW, who pointed out she wasn't mine examined me. I was 3cm. An hour later in a bit of pain, examined again 7cm, no room on labour ward so she said I needed Pethadine to slow me down. Examined before it was administered 30 mins later & was 9cm. No Pethadine but a long walk,( no gas & air or wheelchair), to Labour ward.
Finally a busy but helpful MW! She wasn't told i'd been induced either & after pushing for an hour, to her surprise my waters broke.
Baby fine, 8lb7, bad 2nd degree tear, but all good!
Had a shower, it was FILTHY. I had to clean it myself. Past natal ward busy. Only 2 loos. Grim. No help & grumpy staff!
Always swore I'd never go back. However after reading patient reviews & NHS reviews UCH, doesn't necessarily seem like the best option.....
I also have to friends who are MW at The Whit & they really really rate it. At my booking in at UCH a MW asked why I'd chosen to go there ts time & also said that they rate badly compared to The Whit. Aaargghhh!!!
Sorry for the long rambling post!!

DyeInTheEar Tue 18-Sep-12 21:17:07

Please - thanks for posting. Not rambling at all!

Your experience is exactly the kind of thing I'm expecting to be honest. I had DS in 2004 in St Thomas' and it was filthy too, busy and full of overworked MW too busy, different opinions from each one, lack of information, late decisions. I was like you - in shock afterwards with lots of stitches and ventouse baby after a string of things going wrong / not happening.

So far the MW from Whit I've met have been nice enough - but I've been worried by the state of the hospital and how crazy the maternity unit has been.

A friend disliked UCH but because they wouldn't agree to her birth plan - and transferred to the Royal in Hampstead and said it was brilliant - she had her boy early this year. Another had her DD last year at UCH and said they were great but she had EC. Apparently the MW at Royal have moved from St John's & Lizzies.

I'll ask around for any more info on UCH and get back to you.

ScrambledSmegs Tue 18-Sep-12 21:24:04

Most people I know who've given birth in UCH in the last couple of years have really rated it. If my home birth doesn't go to plan, I'll be asking to go there.

The Whittington is the reason that I'm having a home birth this time. I'm sure plenty of people have had good experiences there, mine wasn't good and it left me with some psychological issues around hospitals. It felt like the labour ward was over-stretched and staff didn't know where they were meant to be or what they were supposed to be doing. May have just been unlucky though.

DyeInTheEar Tue 18-Sep-12 21:34:46

Scrambled Sorry you obviously had a terrible time.

Hope your Home birth is much much better. I'd definitely be going that route if DH wasn't so opposed.

Pleasenomorepeppa Tue 18-Sep-12 21:40:32

UCH, don't seem too open to Birth Plans!
Scrambled, I definitely felt the same about the Whit & think maybe I was unlucky. Friends seem to have had an ok time there!
I've got a raised BMI this time & feel UCH are leaning towards giving me a medicalised/assisted birth despite my otherwise overall fitness. The Whit on the other hand don't seem to view it as a problem.
I also found The Whittingtons antenatal classes to be really encouraging & think maybe this lulled me into a false sense of security!?

EarnestDullard Wed 19-Sep-12 13:12:41

Just for balance, I had DD at the Whit in 2010 and am now booked in again to have DC2 there in a few weeks. My experience was fine; I started in the birth centre but was transferred to a delivery suite for medical intervention (ventouse) at the end. Antenatal care was always busy but ok, postnatal care (overnight) was slightly lacklustre but also no real complaints.

DyeInTheEar Fri 16-Nov-12 11:22:06

Earnest - hope your birth of DC2 went OK.

Just bumping this thread as have had some issues again with the Whit antenatal care - am 38 weeks so not much time to transfer if I feel I should so very keen to hear about North London maternity care. Thank you.

DyeInTheEar Thu 20-Dec-12 14:13:34

I had DS3 in the Whit last week. There was no room free in the birth centre when we arrived and the care we got in the labour ward was pretty bad as they were apparently enormously busy and overstretched. It was an hour before I was seen by MW and longer before I got gas and air. Spent 30 mins in the waiting room and 30 mins in a dirty triage room listening to the unattended screams of the woman next door calling for someone to help her. If it wasn't for DH I'd have had no one helping me. Once I had a MW - after about an hour - I found her to be uninvolved and spent all her time making notes in my book, barely spoke to me and sat away from us in between taking baby's heart beat.

However after about 4 hours on the labour ward I was lucky enough to get a room in the Birth Centre and I cannot praise the care and MWs and facilities highly enough. It was an incredible difference and I feel I owe everything to the MW who looked after me during a tricky delivery. She was amazing and her expertise ensured I didn't rip or have to go for an episiotomy. The team in the birth centre were all so kind, centred, controlled and their immense experience was obvious - I felt completely safe and well looked after. Such a difference between floors. So if you can go for a midwife led birth - I would highly recommend the birth centre at the Whit - they were amazing.

dikkertjedap Thu 20-Dec-12 20:47:17

I would if you can afford it go to the Portland Hospital. Clean, great care, excellent doctors and nurses.

drjohnsonscat Thu 20-Dec-12 20:51:54

Had DS at the new UCH in 2009 and it was good. Planned CS so I wasn't concerned about medicalisation - that' was part of the plan! Ante natal v good, delivery good, post natal on the ward a bit hit and miss.

chocolatemakeseverythingbetter Thu 31-Jan-13 22:50:51

Avoid the Royal Free at all costs! Haven't heard anything about the Whit but all good things about UCH.

babynelly2010 Sun 03-Feb-13 22:57:13

I wrote about my Whittington birth to dd on some other thread before to my dd. I had a wonderful water birth to my dd at the birth centere. but now I am pregnant again with dc 2 and registered with another trust due to relocation and now came to additional realizations... The only good thing about Whittington is the birth centere, the anti natal care is crap, and I consider myself lucky that I never got to experience the post natal ward. I did get a good care after having retained membranes as well but seriously I did not have to suffer entire nine months so I can give birth in the centre. In my current pregnancy I so far got an excellent care and they also have a beautiful birthing centere. I hope all continues go well and I will get another beautiful water birth.

I had DS2 at the midwife-led unit at the Whittington, all went very smoothly, the rooms are new and clean and a nice place to be afterwards. Think the labour ward is a bit dumpy though.

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