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

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