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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!?

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.

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 21:17:07

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.

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 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!

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

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 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.

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.

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 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!

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.

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...

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!

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.

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.

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