Have maternity services at the Royal Free Hampstead improved?

(98 Posts)
umf Fri 10-Jul-09 09:09:49

This thread is a spin-off from this discussion about north London maternity hospitals.

A lot of mumsnetters have been critical of the Royal Free. I don't think the RF's problems are unique or the worst in London. But it has had a bad reputation for several years and women report the same repeated concerns.

Personally I had a ghastly experience of antenatal and postnatal 'care' there in 2006. It was comforting to me to discover on mumsnet that I wasn't the only person who felt so miserable about the place.

A RF consultant (SympatheticConsultant) contributed to the old thread, saying that staffing levels and organisation had lately improved, and hoping that positive comments would start appearing.

Perhaps the RF now has a user feedback mechanism so that they take on board the comments of the women who birth there. But just in case they don't (!) how about we do it here?

What do recent and current users think? Is the RF getting better?

What improvements do you feel most urgently need to be made? What's going well there?

dinkystinky Sat 11-Jul-09 21:41:54

My friend - who gave birth at RF in 2006 (as did I - had hellish experience, she had an ok one) gave birth at the RF 3 months ago. She found the RF ok BUT the new computer system was rubbish - she went in concerned about lack of movement to the day assessment unit, was told to go for a scan, got down to the scanning area and was told no they didnt have anything on their system and basically had someone in radiology yelling at her to sort it out - not really what you expect when you're worried about things. To be fair to them, the midwives in day assessment did sort things out eventually - after 2 hours! When she did go in to give birth in active labour (again concerned due to lack of movement - she had a problematic first pregnancy) the midwives kept trying to send her home telling her it was ages to go - and were still trying to send her home half an hour before she gave birth. So in summary, from what my friend tells me, no its not significantly better from 2006 - still pretty chaotic and some pretty disinterested midwives there. Though my doula at my DS2's birth 5 months ago does tell me that the RF are worried about their reputation and consulting with local doulas about improving matters so at least some one there cares.

SympatheticConsultant Sun 12-Jul-09 23:42:07

Hi umf,

Re. "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!

treedelivery Sun 12-Jul-09 23:48:54

I can't comment on any of your post sympathetic consultant - except to say I heart Alison Wright. Sigh.

oopsagain Mon 13-Jul-09 00:00:37

my friend was the some time ago and the computer didn't discharge her or the baby.
So she got no post natal care at home afterwards and was unable to register the baby's birth....
as a firs time mu she didn't realsie midwives would come to your house and check you etc.

total shambles and very scarey too

stickybean Mon 13-Jul-09 08:22:16

Sypathetic Consultant

In answer to some of the things you were interested in...

I had my baby at the Royal Free 10 months ago.
Triage - Lovely midwife, very nice, friendly made me feel relaxed.
Wasn't far enough along to go to the birth centre so was put on the ante natal ward where i was pretty much ignored, i was doing ok so was fine with this at the begining.
The problem for me was when things progressed i was in full on labour in a room with 3 other women and their partners and they wouldn't move me to the birth centre becuase they were changing shifts. No privacy, i had to labour in public and it was humiliating and awful and i feel possibly affected my outcome.

On birth centre, fine care. Too much of a haze to remember really. I had gone into panic mode thinking i would give birth on the antenatal ward so didn't get off to a good start.

Not coping, requested an epidural which i got straight away, very good, i had read stories of waiting ages but by the time i had been moved to the labour ward it was ready for me.

I had an emergency C section in the end, which was managed well and thetre staff were excellent. In the recovery afterwards they were also nice.

My biggest criticism of the whole experience was the post natal care.
The midwifes were cold and heartless, they never came to check on me. One walked out on me when i was in the middle of a scentence requesting pain relief, they told me off for my baby making too much noise in the night and they insisted she was starving and needed formula. I had been in labour for 2 days and was recovering from a serious PPH and wasn't in a postion to argue. They never once offered me pain relief, i had to ask for it.
I discharged myself in the end. I don't see the point in staying in hospital when you aren't actually being cared for.

In a nutshell, during the labour itself i was treated very well but the whole experience was runied on the post natal unit. It is for this reason that i wouldn't go back. I am pregnant again and have no idea where to go!

Hope it helps.

umf Mon 13-Jul-09 10:03:28


Good to hear that substantive changes are being made.

I'm particularly interested in the "post-natal debrief clinic for mums that have had difficult experiences and would benefit from an opportunity to talk through events afterwards".

How are such patients identified? Or can anyone refer themselves? How are new mothers informed of the service? What are the clinic's specific aims?


Your post-natal ward experience sounds distressingly like mine 2.5 years ago. What an awful way to start motherhood. Hope this thread can be constructive and a little bit cathartic. Like lots of women (it seems from reading other posts) I was too distressed and too overwhelmed to complain at the time. And also figured that the problems were both obvious and well-known.

SympatheticConsultant Tue 14-Jul-09 19:49:50

Hi Stickybean,
That is sad to hear. But I would be keen to know who amongst our staff treated you in such an unnacceptable manner. I know it may be difficult for you, but I would encourage you even now to consider writing a letter of complaint. At least that way we can investigate. If there was professional misconduct or such shocking staff attitudes I would rather they were addressed with the individual(s) concerned and if not rectified with a warning and staff retraining then we now actively move towards having such members of staff removed from their posts. A small number of staff have been removed over the last 8-10 months for exactly these sorts of problems, since the change in senior midwifery and obstetric management last Sept.
Although it may be of little consolation to you I'm glad that the Triage and Labour ward staff treated you with dignity, kindness and respect. It help those of us who are dedicated to improving the service for all our mums to know when things like this happen so we can make sure they are not repeated and offending staff dealt with appropriately.

If you can spare the time and effort to write a complaint then please do write and address it to:
Lead Obstetrician,
Delivery Suite,
Royal Free NHS Trust,
Pond Street,

and then it will get to me. b

The optimistic part of me half hopes that the offending MW(s) may have already been removed! Unfortunately in every work force there are 'bad apples' whose attitudes and actions tarnish the efforts and good intentions of everyone else!

SympatheticConsultant Tue 14-Jul-09 20:04:03

Hi umf,
The postnatal debrief clinic is run by Miss Wright but is a relatively new service.
Presently myself and Miss Wright try and identify postnatal mothers who have had difficult deliveries/postnatal problems directly from the postnatal ward (via our regular ward Consutlant ward rounds) and by liaising with the Midwifery PN ward staff.

In due course we will be advertising the service via all the local GP surgeries and with posters in the Antenatal Clinic and on the Postnatal Ward.
We would be happy to set up a system to accept self referrals by phone, but presently a short letter addressed to :

Miss Alison Wright,
Consultant Obstetrician,
Dept of Obstetrics & Gynaecology,
Royal Free Hospital,
Pond Street,
London NW3 2QG

will be sufficient to get an appt arranged.
Hope that helps!

umf Tue 14-Jul-09 20:41:38

Hi SympatheticConsultant,

I'm glad to hear about this being set up. Gladdened by your posts generally.

What are the purposes of the debrief? I can think of several possibles. Eg to...

1) give mothers a chance to talk through and come to terms with their experiences
2) explain why particular decisions were made in the pressured situations of childbirth
3) justify actions of the obstetric staff
4) discourage formal complaints
5) reduce trauma-induced PND
6) help mothers face future births
7) obtain feedback about mothers' experiences of services

I've never used one of these debriefs (since they weren't in place when I had ds at RF). But have two friends who went to them at Addenbrookes here in Cambridge. One felt that points 3&4 were uppermost. She was almost as upset by her debrief as by the birth itself.

Second felt points 1&7 were main focus. She felt listened to and that her points were actually being noted. (She saw different staff.)

SiL had debriefs in Sweden, where they are routine and the main points seem to be 1&2.

That was all a bit technical, but I suppose what I'm trying to say is that while debriefs have to be a good thing, especially since they can be a major source of user feedback for the hospital, they can descend into confrontation and defensiveness, especially in a low goodwill, low trust setting. And given the litigation worries.

Hope yours is working well. Has it provided useful feedback? Do you think it will in the future?

TheInvisibleHand Fri 24-Jul-09 16:58:09

Things may have moved on from this debate, but I thought I should chip in, having had 2 RF babies, 1 in mid 07 and 1 in Dec 08.

So far as the 07 experience went, I found ante-natal care adequate if uncaring and the post natal care on the wards appalling, although as others have said my experience of the delivery suite was fabulous. My wonderful midwife (Cynthia) stayed with us throughout and correctly anticipated and prepared us for a difficult labour turning into a c-section. This meant that when the doctors finally recommended a section, we were able to go ahead in a calm unhurried way that made me feel I had some control over the process. The other factor that led us back to the RF was the fact that when we needed to use the neonatal unit we found it wonderful - staff were helpful and extremely kind. Special mention to Dr Canswick who took great pains to reassure me that what had happened was not my fault (DD going into kidney failure because of serious weight loss due to poor feeding). Having said that, I do feel in retrospect that the feeding problems were exacerbated by shambolic treatment post natally - several midwives/LLL volunteers etc picked up that DD was not feeding as well as she might, but all it led to was conflicting unhelpful 5 mins interventions from a large number of people.

I'd say my '08 experience was better, but also mixed. This time I could not fault the birth or postnatal experience. Had an easy VBAC birth second time round, but felt enormously helped by both midwives who looked after us. Our second midwife also very kindly arranged for our discharge from the ward and took the initiative in getting the paediatric check done on the delivery suite so we did not have to go to the ward.

Having said that, I found antenatal care very frustrating. Partly this was the new computer system (I was there on launch day...!), but I accept that this is something that will (and probably has been ironed out) and in fact the delays were handled with charm and good humour by the midwife in charge. What I found more frustrating was the lack of consistency and knowledge in relation to the advice I was receiving. This time round I was on consultant led care, but each time I saw a doctor (junior - I never actually saw a consultant thoughout the pregnancy) I was faced with a different approach to treatments. For example, I was trying to make an informed decision about whether to have a VBAC, so queried the stats in the 2007 maternity services report, which showed RF as having a very poor VBAC rate. The answer I got was simply "its just the choice of the mothers in the area" from a doctor who said she didn't know what the RF's policies were or whether it had changed anything since 2006/7. Similarly, I kept being sent for ultrasound scans for no obvious reason - to the point where the sonographer asked why exactly I had come for the scan (as no growth issues, no gestational diabetes and no other issues). In some ways I feel that the late 2008 experience may have been a misguided overreaction to the laissez-faire attitude in 2007.

I would still recommend the RF on the basis of both my deliveries and the superb staff on the neonatal unit, but fear there is still work to do on resolving the day to day issues.

sassmonkey Tue 11-Aug-09 14:03:52

Hi all,

I am 24 weeks and have had all my care from the RF so far. I am considering switching to UCH based on the stories I have heard from these threads and the good experience a few friends have had at UCH.

That said, I do want to give the RF a chance if it is trying to improve the way it works (but not at the cost of a positive birthing experience). Thus far, I have seen a midwife twice (though I had to call to find out why I had missed an appointment), had both my scans right on 12 and 20 weeks and seen a junior consultant about my asthma. That all seemed to go well. I have called the hospital twice with queries, they said they would call me back with a response and one out of two times they did. I am booked to see an anesthetist closer to my due date as well. So thus far, the appointment and scan booking seems to have been handled very well.

I'm not sure how best to go about making the decision of whether or not to stay with the RF. I would love to hear more recent stories about birthing experiences there. It's a wooly sort of question - but does anyone have any suggestions on how we should make the decision of which hospital to go with? SympatheticConsultant, I would welcome your thoughts on that too.


susie100 Tue 11-Aug-09 14:31:01

SympatheticConsultant - just wanted to say how impressed I am with your approach and taking the time to respond on here. Perhaps if all consultants were this way inclined we would not have a problem with maternity services!

Out of interest - what is your professional opinion of St Thomas's in London?

NigellaTufnel Tue 11-Aug-09 15:00:37

I know that this might not be the correc t forum, but I was treated like dirt by a RF midwife
Much more worrying is that she had me pushing at 9cm - this contributed to my undercarriage swelling up, ds getting stuck, and me having an EMCS.

I now have her notes which have obviously been rewritten after the fact. But Her name begins with a F. I obviously have her full name but I don't want to post it on here in case that would be in breach of MN rules.

But Sympathetic Consultant, if you know who she is and she is still thereI am happy to email you privately.

would say that tha the post natal care was shocking - cold and heartless.

But there was one midwife - don't know her name I'm afraid, who was lovely.
Think she was quite senior, a quite young, black woman. And very beautiful. Frankly she looked as if she had just walked out of Holby City, and very out of place amongst the worn out mothers, and the other scowling midwives. She didn't do anything particularly special, but took the time to talk to me, smile at me, and reassure me. I will never forget her kindness.

I think that it's great that you are all working so hard to make the RF better. Good luck.

I personally will never set foot in that hospital again if I can help it.

SympatheticConsultant Fri 14-Aug-09 14:11:12

Hi all,
Sorry i have nt had a chance to catch up on this thread for a while. Am just on annual leave at the moment and hence a bit of spare time.

sassmonkey: It is a difficult decision and so many factors do weigh into the equation. Unfortunately you will hear good and bad stories about every maternity unit in London on the forums. To an extent if you are a low risk mother there is always a little element of chance as you cannot predict which midwife will be on duty and looking after you at the precise time you go into labour (but that again is the case in most units). Its the overall safety of the service that you will be ale to get some indication on from national reports etc. I do agree that most mothers will go by the experience of friends and stories they have heard. But I would still urge you to try and arrange a visit to each unit you are considering. Take into account the location and ease of access for clinics scans etc. If things remain low risk the majority of your care tends to be provided by your GP and midwives (unless its at UCH where I believe the MW clinics are not in the community but are based at the hospital site). If your experience at the Royal Free thus far has been acceptable/good please do stick with us! We have an extensive range of additional services (antenatal classes and 6 types of specialist Obstetric physio sessions to help prepare our pregnant mothers for pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal life which i would also urge you to try!

NigellaTufnell: I'm so sorry you have had such an uncaring experience from our service. Can I ask whether this was a recent delivery or some time ago. In the last 12 months we have at considerable expense and effort tried to raise customer awareness amongst all our staff. Our staff have consequently been put through externally run REACT training courses to improve and provide a customer based experience (to deal with the issues you mentioned). Without reviewing the details of your case its difficult for me to comment on the specific comments you raised about your LW midwife. I would however be keen to know which midwives were involved with your care both during labour and additionally on the postnatal ward. Its not clear from your post who these may have been. (Do let me know how PM's can be set up).

susie100: Thanks for your kind words. I have never worked at St. Thomas's but do know a few of the Consultants there. What I have heard generally about the unit is that they do provide a very good maternity service and together with King's College probably provide the best overall levels of maternity care in SE London! I gather they are however currently over subscribed and are now limiting maternity bookings to women living within the immediate vicinity of their catchment area, although this may change from month to month.

Hope that helps!

nwthree Thu 27-Aug-09 20:08:11

Sympathetic consultant,

I think we are all cheered by the efforts that you are going to to change opinion of the Royal Free. I am 23 weeks pregnant and was initially booked at the RF as it's a short walk from home.

I'm sorry to say that today I visited my GP to request a transfer to UCH. This is not a decision that I have taken lightly, but I'm afraid that my experience to date has failed to impress or inspire me with confidence.

Admin niggles aside (never receiving an appointment for the 12 week scan, and then receiving a letter berating me for not turning up to said appointment, which meant I ended up going private) it was our experience at the 20 week scan that really put us off.

The initial sonographer in the ultrasound department was fantastic - professional, calm and kind. She sent us up to the Fetal Medicine Unit having spotted a potential issue (nothing major as it turns out). We were then shunted into a room with 3 doctors who didn't once introduce themselves or tell us what they were looking for/at. The poor sonographer (again, very professional) was doing her best to answer our questions while the doctors stayed entirely silent for the best part of 45 minutes. At no time did any of them (three of them!) attempt to communicate with either me or my husband, who obviously didn't know what on earth was going on. I had to endure a complete repeat of the scan that had been done downstairs (even though Sonographer 2 recognised that this was a waste of time as all the measurements had already been taken and challenged the doctors on it) in a very stressful environment.

We were then told that an appointment had been made for me to see a consultant the following week. We turned up on time and waited an hour to be told that there was no record of our appointment. Another hour and some complaints later, we were slotted in. I'm pleased to say that the consultant we saw was far kinder, clearer and more communicative than those we had seen the previous week. However, by that point we had totally lost faith in the system and those running it. This may all sound rather petty, but I'm sure you appreciate that we all just want the best for our babies.

One final point is that the midwife I have been seeing seems to be rather behind the times. I asked her about the current thinking on the swine flu vaccine and she replied "The what? I don't know anything about that." I knew more about it than she did from just reading the newspaper.

Best of luck with your endeavours - there is certainly scope for you to make a real difference.

Mamulik Thu 27-Aug-09 20:34:23

my friend had baby a months ago at Royal Free and she said it was very good experience, she had C-section

SympatheticConsultant Fri 28-Aug-09 17:15:04

Dear 'nwthree',
I'm sorry you have been let down by your experience at the RFree. I have just returned from 2 wks leave and as I work on the FMU I assume the 3 Dr's who did not introduce themselves may have been our new FMU research fellows who are in relatively early stages of their training. I have told them all before about introducing themselves to all parents who are coming onto the unit, but the message ha obviously not got through yet. I do apologise! A number of them are relatively junior and other than introducing themselves it sounds as if they were there simply to observe and be supervised. I'm assuming the Consultant you saw was Miss Kadir who has her scan list on a Monday morning?

It really saddens me when our local mothers are turning to book elsewhere. It seems such ashame not to use our local facilities and to have to trudge into central London for all your remaining antenatal visits and delivery.

If you are anyway in two minds about transferring I will however make you a departing offer:
I would be more than happy to personally take over/share your antenatal care. In practice you could then see me for all (or if you wish some of your antenatal consultations (if you also want to see your GP). Furthermore if later in the pregnancy any additional scans are necessary these can all take place on my dedicated FMU scan list. In terms of continuity of care there should not be any problems and I'd hope you'd find our care to be exemplary.
If you decide otherwise then I do understand sad

Irregardless best wishes for the remainder of your pregnancy


Pops78 Sat 29-Aug-09 21:07:26

Just wanted to chip in my bit. Sorry this is a bit negative. I also self referred to UCH 2 weeks ago from Royal Free. I will admit that I wanted to go to UCH in beginning but was told wrongly I couldn't by GP. Since being sent to RF by GP I have read so many bad comments about RF that frankly I was getting nervous from the start, it's my first and I just want the best care I can possibly get like all mums-to-be.

I didn't have a serious problem at RF but it was enough for me. At a MW app I was told I had suspected urine infection and they would send off test. A week later I tried calling and calling to get results completely unable to get anyone to answer over a 3 day period, no MW's available that could give me result, I was sent round the houses. From comments read this just felt like it could be first blip and enough to make me feel I would try and transfer. Was no problem and was seen very quickly at UCH.

Sympathetic Consultant I am sure your efforts will be and are paying off to improve things. I am sorry if you feel I did not give RF enough of a chance but it may interest you to know that in the 20 mins I was waiting for a scan at UCH last week I met 3 other women who had transferred - from RF, because of disatisfaction with service they received. They were all further along and each said I had made right choice moving as early as possible.

spider70 Tue 01-Sep-09 00:46:13

I may as well add my recent experience of the RF too..

Antenatal care was good until I was admitted to 5 South. My advice would be to bring a notebook and record everything you are told, as I had to haul myself out of bed and down to the nurses station repeatedly to explain, post shift-change, that I needed monitoring, explain to every, frequent visitor to my bedside what the last person had said, make repeated requests for the growth scan the consultant who admitted me requested, and fight my corner with reception down in radiography. No one could ever find my notes when needed, and would wander off to find them and not come back. If I hadn't been alert to what was going on, and able to channel communication between the dozens of staff around me, it could have been disastrous.
But despite the poor sharing of information, I actually think the ward care was fairly kind and concerned, apart from a few impatient midwives. When things went really wrong and I needed an emergency c-section, everyone kicked into action as needed. A lovely midwife named Alice looked after me pre and post theatre and kept me sane. Postnatally its a bit of a blur but they were fine. I heard complaints from other women later but I REALLY missed 5 South when I got transferred to the Victorian hell of the Murray ward at the Whittington in order to be near my baby.

pecanpie Mon 07-Sep-09 13:52:53

Sympathetic consultant - despite the waiting times at Royal Free which I would have had anywhere, I just wanted to say that Royal Free has been good so far. I don't really rate the midwife team but that's probably because I prefer a more medical approach, but I just have to say that Dr Choudry (not how she spells it) on Miss Tuck's team is exactly what you want in a medical professional - informative, pragmatic and but caring and very reassuring. Shame she's coming to the end of her contract at royal free.

SympatheticConsultant Tue 08-Sep-09 15:31:50

Hi pecanpie,
I will pass on your kind words to Dr Choudhury, she was working with me in my AN clinic this morning! All our trainee's generally work with us for a year and then rotate to another hospital within the region throughout their 7 years of specialist training.
Its always ashame when you have a good Dr who you have trained up who then has to leave! sad

nwthree Wed 16-Sep-09 08:48:20

Dear Sympathetic Consultant

Many thanks for your message, and apologies for the delay in my response.

Having considered my position and taken on board your comments, I would like to take you up on your kind offer (if it still stands) to take over my antenatal care at the Royal Free. I currently have a scan appointment for 28th September, although, predictably, I have no idea who it's meant to be with!

I hope that by staying at the Royal Free I will be able to give positive feedback on my experience from hereon in about my care at the hospital, and assure other mothers that things are changing.

All the best.

sassmonkey Wed 16-Sep-09 15:12:02

Dear Sympathetic Consultant,

Thank you for your encouragement to stick with Royal Free. I am going to check out the birth centre this weekend (I hope).

I am very envious of your offer to nwthree. Is there any chance that if I choose to stick with the Royal Free, you would extend me the same offer? I have no further scans planned (am at 29 weeks), so may not need your assistance, but I would feel reassured about sticking with the hospital if I knew I had a lovely-sounding ally to call upon, if required. I know you can't make the offer to all and sundry, but maybe just one more newbie mum-to-be?!

I too will broadcast positive feedback if I have a positive birthing experience at the hospital.


Henry73 Thu 17-Sep-09 10:15:50


Have you also considered getting a Doula? If you go to the Doula UK site you can get one for £200 or if money is an issue then you may be able to get the hardship fund its means tested! All the best!

I like the royal free BTW!!! xx

Ema xx

nwthree Sat 19-Sep-09 19:01:17

Thanks Ema - I'm definitely going to look into it x x x

SympatheticConsultant Sun 20-Sep-09 15:39:07

Dear nwthree & sassmonkey,
I am delighted you are both considering giving our services a chance! I will happily agree to oversee you pregnancies and act as your named NHS Consultant.
Please drop me an email(sajjad.ali@royalfree.nhs.uk) so I can get your respective details and i will arrange the necessary appointments for my antenatal clinic so we can at least meet and take things from there.

Best wishes

SC smile

LondonDove Fri 25-Sep-09 10:27:49

Dear Sympathetic Consultant,

I have talked to you on another thread and came back here to let you know that I have reluctantly decided to leave RF. My first priority is the safety of my mono-di ID twins and don't think I can count on that at RF. I know you tried to reassure me in the past but the reality of my RF experience has let your optimism down.

I wanted to ask you to ensure the doctors on Mr E's team who scan multiples and then give parents consultations about the pregnancy read the RCOG Dec 08 guidelines before they make the gaffe of saying that mono-di twins are not at risk of TTTS again. They then made the decision to see us after a 5 week interval. Hence changing hospital. I want someone who knows what they're talking about monitoring me.

On a positive note, I also wanted you to pass on my appreciation to the wonderful specialist midwife AnneMarie. She gave me time and I want to thank her for listening to me.


mellow123 Sat 26-Sep-09 21:56:40

I just thought I’d add something about my recent experience at the RF, as I found this thread helpful myself when deciding to go back to the RF to have baby no 2.

I had my daughter at the RF in late 2006 – although the medical care when we needed ventouse delivery was good, everything else was a bit grim; all the usual complaints – post natal ward dirty and hectic, some staff curt and unkind, and no help with breastfeeding (in fact I was advised to bottle feed by several midwives). All in all, I was rather dreading going back to the RF (I live around the corner so it seemed silly to trek to UCH etc, although I did seriously consider it). However, I just had my son at the RF a couple of weeks ago, and I have to say that things were much, much better. Some positive changes:

Ante–natal care: The community midwives are very busy, but all those I saw were kind and helpful (thanks, Green Team!) Reception staff and others in the Antenatal Clinic and Day Assessment Unit were much more helpful and friendly.

Labour Ward – care was excellent, all the midwives I saw were thoughtful and kind, kept us informed about progress, and just generally seemed to care much more than they did last time I was there. I ended up with an emergency c-section and doctors and other staff were just brilliant. ‘Skin to skin’ contact with your newborn now seems to be really encouraged – we had a good long time, despite the c-section; last time, my baby was whisked away despite me asking for skin to skin time.

Post natal: The ward is still a busy and very noisy place – don’t expect to get much sleep while you are there. But the midwives were much friendlier and much more professional – they introduced themselves, told you what they were doing, and each of the 4-bedded rooms had a ‘named midwife’ for the day which made it seem more personal and also made it much easier to know who to ask if there were problems. Wards and bathrooms now seemed extremely clean. There is a nice little breastfeeding room open day and night, with comfy chairs. There is even a team of 'alternative therapy' volunteers who come in and give foot massages from time to time (yes, really!)

Breastfeeding support on the postnatal ward – this had changed beyond all recognition; this time, no one told me to bottle feed despite me having similar problems breastfeeding baby number two; several midwives tried to help me, and I was put in touch with the ‘Camden Peer Support’ volunteers who come in every weekday (trained mums who pop in to help and advise)

Despite the huge improvements, there were still some negatives -
- I agree it can be very hard to get hold of the community midwives – I called and called over several days (leaving messages in various places) to follow up a blood test. It took 4 days to get hold of anyone – and I ended up having to go in immediately for an induction once a doctor saw the results; it was a little unsettling as the midwives had been happy to have left things another week til my next midwife appointment (I had obstetric cholestasis.)
- My baby had terrible trouble breastfeeding – turns out he had a complete ‘tongue tie’ – this was not mentioned by any of the paediatricians or midwives – and was only spotted some days later back at home when I asked a mw to check in the baby’s mouth for problems. The RF has a weekly clinic for tongue tie but a week is a long time to be unable to feed your baby! I ended sorting this out privately. (Could checking for tongue tie be added to the list of newborn baby checks? It would have made a huge difference to our first few days if this had been picked up earlier…)
- Regarding induction – I was induced on the labour ward because of complications; however, most people who need induction are induced on the postnatal ward, I think, and this looked like a grim option, as partners etc have to leave at 8pm, so you are on your own from then til 10am the next morning. One night on the post-natal ward a woman was induced in the room I was in – she went into labour and was there much of the night labouring alone; she was told to stay in bed, and none of the midwives had time to give her any support. I felt so sorry for her and would have helped her if I could! As soon as you get to some milestone (eg x cm dilated) you can go to thelabour ward and be with your partner, but for many women I know it can be many tough hours to even get to being ‘officially’ in active labour (been there!). Very hard to go through that all alone, on a bed, being monitored. Yuck. So much else at the RF has improved – I wonder if there is anything that can be done to help women in this position eg setting aside a place for them to labour that’s not surrounded by crying babies and sleeping women, or even perhaps getting trainee doulas to sit with them, for example?

- A couple of things that I wasn't prepared for the first time round, but it helps if you know about them: your partner can't stay on the postnatal ward with you after 8pm, so if your baby is born at night, they will have to leave you quite soon - which can be hard. Also - be prepared, when you are ready to go home, 'checking out' can take a day or more – you may need to wait (and wait) for the paediatrician and various others to sign you out, and for all the paperwork to be completed. I found this less stressful the second time around as I was prepared for the wait (it can be hard to end up staying an extra night when you are desperate to get home!)

Finally- with breastfeeding support, although things seem to have vastly improved at the RF, I would go prepared in case you have problems. Get the list of Camden baby clinics to take in with you (go to one when pregnant if you can), and if you’re having ANY problems while in the RF, ask to see one of the fantastic Peer Supporters – ask the mw to put you on the daily list to see them when they come in (I think this is weekdays only?).

Sorry for the long post, but I hope this helps. Many, many thanks to Sympathetic Consultant and others like you, for taking the time to post on this board – and for all the positive changes that you’ve clearly been making at the RF.

sassmonkey Wed 30-Sep-09 11:30:28

Dear mellow123 - thank you so much for bothering to post about your experience. It was very useful to hear an up to date experience - and one that was largely positive! I'm sure all of us who are contemplating the Royal Free appreciated a balanced view of your experience there.

Labouring alone in the post-natal ward does NOT sound appealing.

SympatheticConsultant, can you shed any light on whether or not this is a common practice and if it's possible to get around it?

Mellow, did you catch a glimpse of or have any involvement with the birth centre? Just wondering what that is like.

Thanks again for your post,

nwthree Wed 30-Sep-09 19:50:35


If you're interested in the Birth Centre, you might want to consider taking the tour of the maternity unit (2pm on Sundays). I went last week and was impressed. It was incredibly clean and seems to have been put together with care. You certainly feel that you are in hospital, but they have tried to keep all the medical stuff hidden. You can't book in advance - when you turn up in labour, they will assess you and if you are low risk and there is space, you will have the option of going to the BC. Fair enough, given that none of us know when we will be turning up there!

sassmonkey Thu 01-Oct-09 10:54:41

Hi nwthree,

Good idea and one I had been thinking about for this weekend. Glad to hear you were impressed. Are you doing to stick with the RF then?

Did you get a tour of the labour ward as well? I guess that could be the other place we end up on that as-yet-unknown day...smile

mellow123 Fri 02-Oct-09 20:00:53

Hi Sass Monkey

Unfortunately, I never made it to the Birth Centre, as I had some complications with both labours. However, it looks very nice! And it is literally next door to the Labour Ward - just seperated by a door, really - so there is quick access to the Labour Ward if needed. If you do the tour, I think they show you both the Labour Ward and the Birth Centre.

(From my other post - Just to say, I think you'd probably only be in labour on the postnatal ward if you were induced; otherwise, I think the norm if you go in to the RF already in labour is to go the 'triage' area in the Labour Ward and then be sent to either the Birth Centre or a room in Labour Ward, depending on your risk level and preferences. Hope that makes sense!)

Good luck to all, hope your births go well!

mellow123 Fri 02-Oct-09 20:04:55

Hi Sass Monkey

Unfortunately, I never made it to the Birth Centre, as I had some complications with both labours. However, it looks very nice! And it is literally next door to the Labour Ward - just seperated by a door, really - so there is quick access to the Labour Ward if needed. If you do the tour, I think they show you both the Labour Ward and the Birth Centre.

(From my other post - Just to say, I think you'd probably only be in labour on the postnatal ward if you were induced; otherwise, I think the norm if you go in to the RF already in labour is to go the 'triage' area in the Labour Ward and then be sent to either the Birth Centre or a room in Labour Ward, depending on your risk level and preferences. Hope that makes sense!)

Good luck to all, hope your births go well!

nwthree Sat 03-Oct-09 10:57:11

Hi again,

Yes, I've decided to stick with the Royal Free and am feeling happy about it. Unfortunately the labour ward was full when I was on the tour so we didn't see any of the rooms but I think there may be pictures on the RF website. The midwives all seemed really nice and it was a friendly atmosphere.


sassmonkey Fri 09-Oct-09 14:10:49

Well, we had our tour of the birth centre last weekend. Like nwthree, we didn't get to see a labour room, which was too bad. The midwife seemed nice but I did ask a couple of tricky questions - e.g. is it true that if you are induced and in early labour at night, no visitors are allowed so you labour alone?? She said yes and some of the others in the group looked a bit shocked!

I also asked how the midwives ensure a consistency of style and approaches between shift changes, so that women in labour aren't receiving conflicting advice. She kind of laughed and indicated that was a tough one. She did say that they are doing more to ensure one-to-one care at the RF in the next few months. Anyone know anything about what that means to us?

Good luck to you too, mellow!

againagain Sun 11-Oct-09 22:01:12

I gave birth to my DS2 at the royal free in September 2008.
The care I experienced was patchy and I think if this had been first time around I'd have been truly unnerved.
I arrived well into active labour (5cm according to triage) but still had to stand at the desk until one of the (many) disinterested MW said - 'yes?'. It was approaching 6pm (is this shift-change?) and no one seemed to want to deal with me! I saw a very kind midwife in triage then was put in a labour room (birth centre unavailable due to lack of midwife). Another midwife came in and told me she'd be my midwife until 8.30 only. Other midwives brandishing paperwork kept coming in while I was contracted - was I sure this was the right name of my GP etc. No worries - he'd popped out by 7pm, but seriously in the half hour after birth I had midwives coming in to borrow equipment, row more about the paperwork and even one while I was being stitched who had a row with my midwife about needing to borrow something. i got the impression that only 1 or 2 of them actually wanted to be there and they had no respect that I was in labour. As I said if this was first time round I'd have been horrified!

Wilsybear Sun 01-Nov-09 14:36:03

Hi I was really interested to read this thread as I am due to give birth at the RF next week!

As a first timer, and having only lived here a short time, I have to admit to being a bit confused about maternity care generally in London. My GP was utterly useless about advising me on even which hospital catchment area I fell under. Searching on the internet it appeared that all the maternity units have good and bad reviews, so I chose the RF based mainly on the appeal of the birth centre.

My experience so far has been reasonably positive, there have been times when I have had to wait, which is obviously a health service wide problem not specific to this dept or hospital. I have never seen the same midwife twice, but again I believe this to be a London wide issue.

The staff I have seen are generally friendly (the people who take your blood can be a bit hit and miss), and I found the midwives who did the hospital tour and waterbirth workshops to be really friendly and informative.

The only specific problem I have had is on my last check up. Having been waiting for a while (and on realising that people who arrived after me were being seen) I went to the desk to be told that I had already been marked off as been seen! The receptionist and midwife I eventually saw were very apologetic, and the midwife I saw was the best I have seen so far, in that she explained everything she was doing and why, and again made time to answer my queries.

My main concern about the RF has always been the things I have heard about post natal support, but I guess I will find out very shortly about that aspect of the care!

nwthree Mon 02-Nov-09 08:18:16

Good luck Wilsybear! Let us know how it goes.

sassmonkey Wed 25-Nov-09 10:54:39

Any updates on this thread from anyone?

nwthree, when are you due?

allaboutme Wed 25-Nov-09 11:21:17

I'm so pleased things are changing at RF it seems.
I wish I had researched it a bit more before having DC1 there in late 2005.
I'm still a bit bitter at the fact that a trainee MW broke DC's arm when delivering him.

I had DC2 at a completely different hospital and it was so so different, they were fantastic.
The level of care you get does make such a huge difference and so I am very pleased that RF is pulling its socks up finally.
Well done sympathetic consultant on your good work.

Ana11 Wed 25-Nov-09 23:03:17

I am due to give birth in 3 weeks time and have found this thread extremelly interesting as I have heard so many mix reviews about the RF in the last couple of years. I had my first baby at the RF in July 07 and my experience was very much in line with most of the comments here. Whilst medical staff and midwives were excellent the post natal care and ward was sub-standard. I won't go into it in detail as it all has been said on previous posts.
My experience this time round has been better so far in that I have seen the same midwife throughout the pregnancy and she has been fantastic. I never had to wait too long for the scans and the sonographers were always very kind and attentative. Only problem was when I received a letter informing me I had missed my scan appointment which as a matter of fact I had already had a week or so before the letter was printed so I guess there was some sort of mix up there!
I have made my decision to have my second baby at the RF given the efforts that are being put in in improving the experience and as such I will be letting you all know what my experience is like as soon as I am home.... I just hope that SympatheticConsultant is at hand if needed and that all the efforts made to improve the Unit are a reality!

Lastly, I agree with mellow123 that it would be nice to be able to have my husband with me whilst I am in labour...he was sent home last time and I had to endure most of it on my own

KERALA1 Wed 25-Nov-09 23:15:36

Surely it can only get better. I cannot imagine it would be possible to be any worse than when I gave birth there in summer 2006. People had warned me it was bad but I thought they were being precious/demanding. Ha how wrong I was.DH and I both ended up with mild PTSD because of what happened there. We did make a formal complaint.

We moved out of London and last year had a second baby at a hospital in the South West. The experience was so so different it is hard to comprehend that both hospitals are part of the same NHS system. Even if we hadnt moved I would never never have gone back <shudder>.

sassmonkey Thu 26-Nov-09 11:15:54

I have had two appointments (just the general checkups) with SympatheticConsultant because I wasn't happy with the midwife at my local surgery (she is from the RF but does a day a week at the surgery). SC has been great - very thorough and approachable. And in fact, the other people I have seen in those visits were good as well - everything happened relatively on time, even the things that weren't booked (i.e. blood tests). They seem to not be able to find my hospital notes last visit - I'm hoping that will be rectified for next visit!

I'm due on Monday (30th Nov), so having made the decision to stay, I hope the Birth Centre, Labour Ward and post-natal are putting in as much effort to provide good service as SympatheticConsultant is!

I'll let you all know...

And sorry to hear about your past bad experiences Kerala1. I'm glad your most recent birth was much better.

nwthree Sun 29-Nov-09 09:50:16

Hi all,

Like Sassmonkey, I've been seeing Sympathetic Consultant at the RF. I agree that he is approachable and clearly really making an effort to improve things. He has answered a lot of questions that my midwife was unable to address. We have had a couple more scans as well. The bedside manner of some of the junior doctors at the scans could still be improved, I'm afraid, but I have faith that this will be addressed.

I'm due on 19 December, so I'll be very interested to hear Sassmonkey's experience. I'm also hoping to use the birth centre, space permitting. I'll report back on how I get on.

As an aside, I've heard that UCH is suffering from its popularity at the moment. It's so busy that women are not getting midwife appointments. This is something I've had no problem with at the RF, so anyone deciding between the two might want to consider this.

Good luck Sassmonkey! Hope it all goes smoothly.

pecanpie Mon 30-Nov-09 07:16:45

I am on Miss Tuck's team at Royal Free. Her registrars are a great reflection on her teaching abilities. I really believe that I am getting the best advice even from the less confident members of the team. The only problem with Royal Free is the awful community midwife care. I chose to see my GP and consultant's team rather than the blue team of midwives which to say the least is poorly managed. The team leader was over an hour late for my first appointment which was in the hospital and a friend has experienced the same. She's also heard her arguing with other staff members in public which is pretty unprofessional. If this woman was on duty in the hospital on the day I deliver, I would not want her anywhere near me or my baby.

sassmonkey Mon 30-Nov-09 11:36:42

I wasn't that impressed with a certain member of the yellow team as well, and am much happier in the care of the consultant's team. That said, I've had contact with a few midwives who were very helpful, so I guess we can't write off everyone. Nor should we want to, we will be in their hands! I agree though, Sympathetic Consultant's registrar was very good as well.

Damn, nwthree, I thought perhaps you were going first and could report back! Allright then, I'll go first, scope out the territory and report back. grin

Wilsybear Wed 02-Dec-09 17:01:44

Hi there I finally gave birth to my DD last week and was released from the RF yesterday following a slightly prolonged stay of 5 nights due to needing a induction and then the baby having a few issues. Anyway I just thought that I would report back on my experiences. Basically they are pretty much in line with what people have previously reported and I would end up writing War & Peace if i go into every detail. So in summary:

Antenatal - I have previously posted about this.
Induction - I spend 2 nights at the RF being induced before having my baby. My initial induction was cancelled as last week was particularly busy and there were no beds. I was not bothered by this as I was still keen to go into spontaneous labour anyway. I agree with another post that it is awful when you are in early labour and your partner is not allowed to be there to support you. I am not sure really what can be done about this, as I can see that they need to control people coming in and out at night time, but I did find it very difficult and quite stressful not to have my DH there.
Labour Ward - sheer bliss after being on the Postnatal ward for 2 nights! I cannot fault it, the staff are fantastic and when I needed an assisted delivery they made us feel really in safe hands. Ana, Ola and Donna all great.
Postnatal - As people have commented it is good to have a named midwife in charge of your room, they are however hugely busy. This said I didn't have any negative experiences with the midwifery team on this ward. My only comment is that whilst the ward is clean, they do not appear to even check if your sheets need changing. I was in for 3 nights after my birth and as you can imagine they were in a pretty bad way by the end of the stay.
Discharging - This is my major problem! After 5 nights I was climbing the walls to get home and it took us 8 hours to get discharged, and only then happened when I threatened to discharge myself and threw a fit. When I think that they were cancelling inductions the week before due to lack of beds, I can now see why! The doctor responsible for discharging had gone AWOL and to be fair to the midwifery team they were all pretty annoyed at not being able to find her, as I think they had a number of women waiting for discharge.

All in all it was not a bad experience and whilst it was not the birth I would have wanted this is not the fault of the hospital. The staff are good, if a little over stretched. As someone else has mentioned the junior doctors do seem to have a more impersonal approach. The doctor who ended up delivering my baby for instance, I had seen on a couple of occasions and I still have no idea who he was because he didn't introduce himself hmm We very much felt we were treated simply as another one to tick off his list. As an aside I would also like to say that the anaesthesiology team are fantastic and the lady anaesthetist who was at my delivery was brilliant (can't remember her name)throughout, letting us know exactly what was going on and why.

Sorry this has turned into a really long post. If you have managed to get to the end of it, I hope it is of some use smile

nwthree Fri 04-Dec-09 15:02:08

Hi Wilsybear,

Congrats on the birth of your baby. I'm pleased that your experience wasn't all bad - thanks so much for the feedback. It sounds as though there are still improvements to be made, and hopefully SC is still monitoring this thread. I'm seeing him next week and will mention it. I think the junior doctors leave a lot to be desired. Very odd that they have a complete inability to introduce themselves (I've experienced the same problem a few times and it really riles me), especially when you are so vulnerable and don't know what's going on.

Hope you have time to relax and recuperate.

sassmonkey Fri 04-Dec-09 20:34:35

I agree, congrats Wilsybear and thank you for your posting. It gives me reassurance that you had a relatively good experience. SCs registrars seem to have some social skills, but I haven't encountered any others. Based on your experience, I'm hoping to get booked for an induction ASAP as if I leave it to next week after my sweep, I might have to leave it longer than I want to.

Thanks again for feeding back, hope you are enjoying your wee one!


nwthree Mon 08-Mar-10 19:32:21


Here is a summary of my son's birth at the RF in December 2009.


I was hoping for a natural birth and, as such, intended to use the Birth Centre pool room and take along a doula. I went into early labour at about 10pm on 17 December. By 3am, we decided that it was time to transfer to the RF because my contractions were coming at least 3 times in 10 minutes and were increasingly intense. We arrived at triage at about 3.15am, having phoned ahead. Unfortunately my experience in triage was pretty appalling. The midwives said that they would not admit me unless I had a vaginal examination as they could not otherwise tell whether I was in labour. I understand that there is sometimes some ambiguity, but it was quite clear to anyone with any medical experience that I was in established labour (I could not speak/sit down/lie down, the contractions were increasing in frequency and intensity etc). I did not want a VE due to (a) the risk of infection and (b) the fact that it is very unpleasant and I felt they should have been able to tell that I was in labour just by looking at me. The midwives took complete exception to this and insisted that we had to speak to the doctors. The doctors were in theatre, so I had to wait an hour and a half in intense pain, and labouring essentially in public, for the doctors to appear. I honestly thought that I would deliver my baby on the floor of triage. At one point the midwife even suggested that I would not be allowed in the pool as I had not attended the workshop. As you will know, you do not need qualifications to sit in a birth pool. Another midwife seemed to be stuck in the middle and was at least cheerful and friendly.

When the doctors turned up, my husband explained the situation and they again insisted that, due to the NICE guidelines, I would have to have an examination. I find this astonishing, especially as the NICE guidelines in fact do allow for some discretion. Neither doctor asked to see me. Rather than judging with their own eyes, they just parroted the standard line about the guidelines. I note that a friend who had her baby at UCH was asked whether or not she would like a VE, and at no point was she forced to do so. By the time that my husband was arguing with the doctors, I was so desperate for privacy that I agreed to the VE. My consent was not freely given. I felt that I had been backed into a corner, and if I had not agreed I would have been sent home and, in all likelihood, given birth in a taxi.

At about 5am, I was finally permitted to move to the Birth Centre where a new midwife performed the VE. Unsurprisingly she said that I was far gone enough to be able to get into the birth pool immediately. I am pleased to say that as soon as we got to the Birth Centre, things changed for the better. I cannot praise the midwife enough. She read and adhered to my birth plan, and was very supportive. She monitored the baby's heartbeat and quietly took my blood pressure, but otherwise let me get on with it. She was wonderful. My baby was eventually born at 8.45am with just 2 paracetamol for pain relief. Unfortunately I tore a bit during labour, so needed stitches. These were carried out by consultant Alison Wright, who was great. Very kind, professional and a great communicator. I felt that I was in good hands. Because of the stitches, I was told I would need to be in for 2 nights instead of 1, which I was fine with.


The post-natal care was not great. The key reasons for this were:

- A number of staff members complaining to me about (a) how understaffed the ward is, (b) how badly they are treated, (c) how badly the patients are looked after. This was completely unprompted by me. The last thing I wanted to hear was about the political in-fighting on the ward.

- The fact that I had to stay in an extra night entirely due to the lack of staff to discharge me. This seems ridiculous, given the need for the beds. I was therefore in for a rather excessive three nights.

- No-one changed my bedding during my stay, so in the end my husband had to do it.

- The fact that my baby was jaundiced was not picked up in hospital. The midwife who visited the day after we left noticed it (and he had not changed colour between times).

- We were made to feel very guilty and irresponsible for opting for the oral vitamin K over the injection by the paediatrician. If the NHS is offering the oral drops as an option, why make people feel bad for choosing them?

On the positive side, most of the staff seemed very nice but just completely overworked.

My experience shows that there are a lot of areas that need improvement. That said, the majority of my birth was just as I wanted it, and that was thanks to the staff in the Birth Centre, who I would recommend to anyone. I feel that it is very important to cut out the triage element of the experience or at least educate the labour ward midwives in how to deal with those women who want a natural birth.

I hope this helps anyone considering giving birth at the RF.


MumNWLondon Mon 08-Mar-10 21:56:35

NWThree - slightly concerned by what you wrote - I have just taken the decision to change from the RF to the Whittington as your experience in triage is exactly what i want to avoid.

When i arrived to have DS in May 2006 they didn't have the triage system and so I went straight to the birth centre.... and the midwifes there were fab - and i got discharged home directly from birth centre after 6 hours. No suggestion of a VE at any point & birth was fab in every way.

When I called at 28 weeks this time to book into the birth centre. I was told no longer possible as need to go via triage... they offered me water birth workshop - i asked is it necessary as DS born in their pool 4 years ago they said no, then tried to have conversation with them about possibility of not going via triage and realised a waste of time can't avoid it, so started looking for alternative hospital, whittington allows you to book in directly to birth centre. meanwhile i haven't actually been there yet to discuss anything.... so am inbetween hospitals so to speak, not ideal at 34 weeks - i hope transfering not a mistake confused.

re: the discharge - the same thing happened to me in 2003 when i had my daughter - they lost my notes and couldn't discharge me. after 24 hours both me and DD had been checked out so just told them I was leaving without being discharged. i left my mobile number and told them i'd pop back to be discharged when they got round to finding my notes!

re: blue team - was kept waiting for over an hour at 28 week check. i always go to GP - just i am Rh- so have to endure 28 weeks and 34 weeks with community midwifes as GP can't do anti-D. they promised to post me my blood test results and didn't

Sonilaa Tue 09-Mar-10 14:08:15

ds was born in the RF in Dec 2006. orignially wanted to go to the birth centre but when my waters broke at 37 weeks it was not to be. I was induced on the labour ward, 1st midwife was fine, supportive and funny. next mw was a right bitch (don*t remember the name). birth then by ventouse. baby didn*t breathe properly but recovered quickly. didn*t go to the ward immediately but was under observation in the MWs office (is it still like this?) where I heard all of the handover, mws slurping tea, them not helping me up to go to the loo, as I was still on the drip following the pph. I was not able to take ds because they put him to far for me to reach and the IV was on the other side of the bed...
never felt better beeing at home after 2 nights.

dd was born in the RLH dec 09. opposite experience - rooms shabby but my mw was fab. No intervention no complication and home next day.

pecanpie Wed 10-Mar-10 09:21:39

DD2 was born at RF 2 weeks ago. I was really happy with the experience, especially given that I was terrified about all aspects of labour after a long and painful birth with DD1. I arrived at the hospital at about 11pm and barely had to wait to be seen by the triage midwife. I had seen the midwife a couple of times previously as the hospital was monitoring me in the day assessment unit every other day due to high blood pressure so it was good to have a bit of continuity. I was delighted to find out that I was already 3cm dilated, having been told last time when in much more pain that I wasn't yet in established labour and had to manage without pain relief. I was soon in a labour room with gas and air, pethidine on its way and the promise of an epidural. I had a midwife who stayed with me pretty much for the whole labour (plus a medical student).
The pethidine really helped but I still wanted the epidural. Given that my waters hadn't broken, they suggested that they do this before I would have the epidural to prevent things from slowing down and given my dislike for internal exams and having waters broken (a necessity because last time they didn't break on their own either), they were happy for the triage midwife I had seen a few times before to do this for me to make me more comfortable with it.
Overall things went very well, I didn't feel rushed during or after the birth. It did take some time for the paperwork to be done - I get the impression that RF midwives can't really multitask, but then it's also a positive that they take their time to get one thing done at a time.
Aftercare was ok except I didn't really want to be there and ended up discharging myself (got home 10 hours after birth)because there was absolutely no need for me to stay there. This took quite a bit of time and next time I think I'd get on with discharging myself sooner.
Despite being impressed overall, I think each person's experience during labour is down to how busy the hospital is at the time of admittance and how well they are staffed. It's also down to each individual labour and whether you have any previous experience (first labours are worse because above anything, you don't know what to expect - at least I think this was a contributing factor for me). I know someone who gave birth to DD1 at RF about 2 weeks before me and she had a difficult time, spending quite a lot of time in triage without pain relief having been induced. I don't think she would contemplate returning to the hospital.
Just to add, all the registrars I saw were generally good except for one complete arse in the day assessment unit - no other way to describe him, except to say he was one of those 'I am a doctor therefore godlike' sorts.

MumNWLondon Wed 10-Mar-10 22:28:58

also wanted to vent here my frustration with the community midwifes... at my booking in appointment they took my bloods and said they'd post... they didn't, and I didn't follow up and didn't end up seeing community midwife again until 28 weeks - during his "gap" i was only supposed to have one ante-natal appointment & i saw my GP.

anyway at 28 weeks got told off as i didn't have my blood test results - apparently i was supposed to make an appointment to discuss (although they said they'd post!) - anyway they took more blood at 28 weeks, and again said they'd post them as next appointment wasn't supposed to be until 34 weeks. i gave my address but didn't chase the results when they didn't come (mainly as the community midwifes so elusive).

Anyway was slightly taken aback today to find that iron is "borderline" and i should be taking multi-vit with iron - or other iron supplement. i mean - might have been nice to know this 5 weeks ago!!!!!

Sonilaa Thu 11-Mar-10 07:37:14


Oh yes the blood test...I had the same. And beeing a naive first timer, I did not follow up. They told me that if there is any concern they will ring me. At 34 weeks was anaemic and high dose iron did not bring levels up enough so went into labour anaemic

MumNWLondon Thu 11-Mar-10 09:31:17

Sonilaa - yes would not be surprised if I was not borderline anaemic.. although 34 week test results a bit irrelevant now as will start taking iron supplement regardless, have no confidence in the care they provide at all... - am v annoyed because they should have posted me the results like they promised, could have taken action earlier.

Anyway, have decided to change hospitals, due to see midwife at Whittington next week for booking in there (at 35 weeks!), amazingly she had been chasing me for an appointment rather than the other way around.

Barbaraaxt Fri 12-Mar-10 15:27:04

MumNWLondon, my community midwife did that several times, I mean, promising to call me, or to make an appointment with the doctor, and then she would never call me back.

My iron levels are also low but no one seems too concerned about that (I'm taking iron tablets, they don't seem to work, they make me contipated but hey, that's the way life is).

I also have to put hospital departments in contact with each other, otherwise things don't usually move along. However, I have a feeling that when I chase people they do things properly.

I've been well treated by some people and everything seems to be going well, so I plan just to keep chasing people and insisting on the bookings they forget.

Uzj Thu 10-Jun-10 16:54:09

Hello every one

It's my first pregnancy. Am still waiting on my appointment for my first scan. Am so so so very scared, i was too anxious about the hospital i should go to, but the choices i was given i chose Royal Free, but since the day i have been reading the reviews about the midwives and etc, i am just so scared. I am thinking to change the hospital from royal free to something else, i thought people were encouraged to breast feed but it seem's royal free is not a big fan of breast feeding, and you need support for it. Am not sure what to do, can some one advice me on this please if i should just change the hospital, in good time.

umf Thu 17-Jun-10 14:10:27

Hi Uzj you can certainly change your hospital, up to the last minute if you want. But what are your other options?

MumNWLondon Thu 17-Jun-10 19:46:15

Hi Uzj, i changed at 34 weeks to the whittington - its the nearest hospital, only a couple of miles from the RF, away they have a lovely new MLU.

There is a tour on a saturday pm the time is on the website, you can turn up look around and ask questions etc, and there is also a self referal form on the website so you don't need to go back to GP.

i had a great experience, and if you can give birth in the MLU the aftercare is fantastic.

I had wanted a homebirth but due to going overdue and a late (36 weeks) failed gtt I had an induced birth on the labour ward at the RFH about three weeks ago.

Overall I found the midwife care excellent, both my community team and those on the labour ward. I also met with the consultant midwife as I had been unhappy about my treatment by obstetricians in the run up to labour, she was very helpful indeed. I only came acroos one midwife who was disrespectful, I think I will complain about her. While waiting for a room
on the labour ward to become available, I was given a sweep (I asked for no prostaglandins as already dilated and effaced enough for ARM only) and sent off for a long walk on the Heath. I returned to the hospital several hours later, still no room. At 8pm I stated if there was no room I was going home as I was not going to be able to sleep in a room full of women whimpering away on their prostaglandins and needed to sleep in order to be fit for labour after a 4 hour walk on a hot day. The MW on duty said they were prepping a room now. Two hours later at 10pm I packed my bags and asked DH to get the car, while he was getting the car they magically found a labour room. The MW on duty took me over and said 'we are now going to take your bloods and put the drip in while we do it' I said I am the most common blood type, it's in my notes and I am not having synthetic oxytocin. She said 'do you know what induction is?' I said yes, have you read my birth plan? She said 'forget the birth plan, this is induction' I asked her if she was going to be my midwife during labour, she said no, rosie was and so I asked to leave. I don't think the conversation was an acceptable part of my care.

I had several issues with obstetricians over the last six weeks of my pregnancy, one who insisted I must be induced at 38 weeks due to my failed GTT not taking into account that there is no precident to diagnose GD at 36 weeks as all women suffer from impaired glucose tolerance in the last few weeks, also ignoring my self monitoring that showed I could eat my normal diet with no raised readings (the only cause of raised readings was stress- there is a link between cortisone release and blood sugar levels - the 'flee or fight' response) or that all my scans showed a normal size or slightly small baby. Despite continuing to have excellent blood sugar readings right upto 42 weeks, I still had to use the labour ward rather than the birth centre gor my induction, which displeased me, I would have preferred MW led care. The obstetrician on duty for my labour firsts words to me were, 'you don't like doctors do you' not very helpful.....I didn't see him again until I was 8cm
dilated when he said 'if you are not pushing when I come back in one hour I am going to give you an epidural and a c-section. Four hours later I had a succesful VB (no pain relief) did not congratulate me, but every MW did.
Despite these issues I felt overall the standard of care was excellent, it's the attitude of staff that's the problem. Women are not breeding cattle, we certainly care more about the safety of our unborn children then any MW or OBS, hence our feelings and our decisions should be respected at all times, especially during labour.
I feel many women do not get the treatment they deserve because they do not insist upon it, both my husband and I have degrees from imperial college and do not see doctors as gods, we are capable to read the NICE guidelines and draw our own conclusions from the evidence quoted, if it weren't for this I feel I may have been bullied into decisions I was not comfortable with.
The RFH can definately improve, but I wouldn't discourage anyone from a birth at the hospital, as long as they have a strong birth partner to help and support them.
Sorry for typos,using iPod whilst BF baby.

ycmoore Sun 10-Jul-11 02:37:09

Sympathetic Consultant: Just wondering if you are still at the RF?

SympatheticConsultant Thu 21-Jul-11 16:30:44

Hi ycmoore,
Sorry I've only just come across your last post! I am currently sitting on the labour ward at the Royal Free after a fairly busy morning, so in answer to your question yes I'm definitely still here, how can I help?

MissCricket Sat 05-Nov-11 11:38:38


First of all, thank you to all the mums who have given birth at the RF (or decided against it) for taking the time to share your experiences. I can only guess that you must be very busy after the birth - but your testimonials are really helpful!

Thank you also to SympatheticConsultant for his open minded attitude and nice comments.

I am 10 weeks pregnant (first baby!) and was referred to the RF by my GP. Some of these comments have made me worry and I was wondering if anyone has had a more recent experience of the RF Maternity Unit. I am going to try to visit the RF and the UCH (which seems to have more consistent positive feedback) to help me decide, but any comments / advice would be very appreciated!

Thank you very much,

I hope you are all happy and well!

pecanpie Sun 06-Nov-11 09:59:26

I'm currently at RF - 2 weeks off birth of DC3. I chose to go back again. I think I mentioned earlier in this thread my negative experiences at UCH. From the people I know, it doesn't matter which hospital you go to, it depends on what's happening at the time in terms of how good your care is. RF were brilliant when I was in labour both times. That's the most important thing.
For antenatal care, they respond well to complaints - if you have a problem, make a fuss and it will be sorted out quickly.
They are also very good at sorting out slightly more complex situations - we've arranged NHS cord blood collection which may be needed for DD1 in the future and the hospital has been very organised to ensure that this all happens on the day.

LeserattePD Sat 12-Nov-11 14:16:08

Well I had a recent experience at the Royal Free when I had a medical termination due to fetal abnormality. First the positive: Anne-Marie (the genetic midwife&counsellor) was incredibly helpful and supportive and I can only recommend her. Also, the pre-natal care on the ground-floor was good, if slightly impersonal as every time I had a different midwife. The scans were also done professionally and quickly. Equally so for the Amniocentesis.

Now the negative: The labour ward is a shambles. A 4 hour wait to get a room that had been booked two days before; I was actually left alone with my partner for the whole proccess with the hourly "check-ups" being the nurse putting her head through the door; when we pressed the call-button at the critical moment, the nurse only turned up 10 min later, then left to get the doctor without doing anything, ie with everything hanging between my legs!

Elizabeth, the doctor on duty (another one to recommend) had to send to one of the OPs to get tools needed to stop my excessive bleeding (which took over 20 min); The nurse assistant was actually more helpful than any of the nurses (don't ask any of them for drinking water - it's obviously beneath them!), some of them seemed to have a problem with me having a termination too (well at least until they had seen the foetus).

The nurses were very intent on getting rid of my partner afterwards while I was still in danger from loosing too much blood. I was supposed to be discharged in the morning, even with Anne-Marie talking to the male on-duty doctor he only turned up at 12 with the excuse he was doing rounds (I suppose not having had a live baby I wasn't part of those rounds? Being one of the two excessive bleeding cases that night also didn't seem to qualify for some attention). Then he discharged me without pre-scribing antibiotics (which apparently he should have) or doing another vaginal check which Elizabeth had said would happen in the morning.

Because this was not done, I had an intense bleeding episode and had to have a scan, clean-out and then a course of antibiotics three weeks later.

After all this, I'm seriously considering private maternity next time.

AESR Tue 31-Jan-12 14:45:27

A friend of mine recently alerted me to the fact that there have been discussions regarding the standard of care at The Royal Free hospital, until then I thought I was alone in my experience. I had my daughter at RF in October 2007, my first and only child.
Whilst I would prefer not to go into details, many of the stories that I have read here cover the same ground...trauma post birth, post natal depression, an immense feeling of isolation and a total loss of dignity, in my case resulting in a decision not to have any more children...
In a sense it is comforting to know that I am not alone (there were times both during and after psychotherapy that I was so traumatised I almost convinced myself that I had imagined it, however my husband was also witness to it all and thankfully persuaded me to continue with therapy), I also find it immensely sad that we have shared such terrible experiences and also very sad that my daughter will grow up an only child when we had previously planned a larger family.
I have every respect for how under staffed the NHS is, and the pressure that this can put on individual staff members and units, but if any of the people who 'cared' for me during my stay at RF had any idea of the impact there lack of compassion and professionalism had on my future life then I would like to think they may have behaved differently of found another career.

SympatheticConsultant Thu 02-Feb-12 20:09:13

Dear AESR & Leseratte PD,
This sounds like a truly awful that you have experienced,I am so sorry.

2007 was the year before I joined but I would hope that there are significant changes that we have put in place to meet the needs of our expectant mothers since then. As earlier posters have written we are a much more responsive service than in previous years and I would hope expectant mothers looking to book would try and base their decisions on where to have their babies on recent experiences rather than out-dated experiences. A number of the old staff have been removed and we have made conscious strides to try and improve our user experience. We achieve 1:1 care in labour and our postnatal surveys are getting consistently good feedback. We have only last month launched the first free NHS Cord Blood Stem Cell Collection Service in North London as a partnership with the Anthony Nolan Trust (who were being publicised on GMTV only yesterday for the fantastic work they are doing).

The effects of birth trauma have profound effects on families and it is very tragic when such experiences lead to mothers deciding against future pregnancies. If at any time you feel it would be helpful to meet me or another member of our staff to go though what happened then please do get in contact, you seem as though you might benefit from an opportunity to have a debrief, even at this stage.

Leseratte PD :
I work with Anne Marie in FMU on a regular basis and she is fantastic and a credit to her profession and our department. Her kindness,empathy and compassion have helped so many parents at the worst of times of their lives.I am perturbed however at the attitudes of other staff that you came into contact with. When you say nurses I am suspecting you were possibly not cared for by our Midwives and possibly were managed on the gynaecological wards. Again if you feel it would help to talk through any of these issues with either myself, Anne Marie (or others) please do also get in contact. It may help you moving forwards and if we can do anything to improve a poor aspect of our service for others then we would welcome the opportunity to do so.

Kindest regards

Seynubi Sun 05-Feb-12 20:15:27

Hello All..

I am only 8 weeks and this will be my second pregnancy. ( Having had a girl prem at 6 mths, over 8 yrs ago and her not surviving SCBU).

I am new to London. (Previously gave birth in Cheshire, where I used to live after coming back from abroad for a brief visit and going into labour 2 days before departure)

( My experience there is another story!)

No idea how the system works here, not having experienced it with the last pregnancy. Registered with GP and had nurse check. Waiting for MW contact for first app.

Having read reviews on the RF and lots of other hospitals, I would love some advice!

Im based in Ladywell but will travel for peace of mind with treatment.

Please ladies, and SympatheticConsultant, any advice and recommends would be gratefully received!

(Ps. Having checked reviews for University Hospital Lewisham, I WONT be going there! :S )

cleclo Wed 08-Feb-12 23:19:17

Hi really glad I found this board, I'm currently 17 weeks with baby no.2 had my ds in dorchester in dorset and was a really good experience. My meetings with mw so far have been good however when I went for my 12 week scan the treatment was useless. Was made to wait 3 hrs for my scan! Got told to go and have some lunch even tho I wasn't hungry as otherwise they wouldn't be able to see the baby (this is the 3rd scan I've had and never been told that before) then everyone from the scan area left for lunch so basically an excuse for him to go to lunch. This made my husband really late for work and just ruined the first time seeing my baby. Also he was moody and rude... Really considering transferring as not the kind of experience I want for my birth x

cleclo Thu 09-Feb-12 13:30:06

to continue, that didn't really make me want to leave as thought its not really part of the natal group. however since then have spoke to quite a few mums who are making me nervous about rf. I chose it as its were me and my brother were born and quite like the idea of my child being born there but not nervous, and generally just need some reassurance. thanks xx

MarieLloyd Thu 09-Feb-12 15:33:51

I had my first child at the RF in 2005. I sincerely hope things have improved since then.

I was in hospital for around 9 days (induction, then a stay post-emergency section). I was bullied into an induction when I was barely overdue, by a doctor who told me I was irresponsible and would be putting my baby at risk if I didnt agree (I was 7 days overdue and had a risk-free, straightforward pregnancy).

I felt I was treated like a dog during my time there. Both midwives and doctors spoke to me with contempt, as if I had done something wrong or was annoying them sad. Nobody spoke to my husband the entire time I was there - staff literally ignored him.

I was subjected to a series of horrible internals, including one in the middle of the night, when a doctor literally woke me up by shaking me and then doing an internal without even speaking to me.

One midwife shouted at me when I rang my buzzer at 3am because my milk had come in and my breasts were so painful and inflamed I thought I would pass out.

One midwife told me I wasn't 'doing it right' (breastfeeding) and took my baby away without my permission and fed him formula when I was asleep.

They completely forgot my anti-d injection, which could have potentially caused me to be unable to carry future pregnancies.

My bed linen was only changed once during my 5 days on the postnatal ward, and that was only because my mum asked a midwife if she thought it was hygenic for me to be sleeping on a blood-soaked sheet.

I wish to God I had complained officially afterwards, but I became severely depressed and was in no fit state for many many moths afterwards.

There is just no excuse for the way I was treated in the RF. I had my subsequent children at UCLH and what a difference!

SympatheticConsultant Sat 11-Feb-12 00:57:22

Dear cleclo,
If you PM MSG me with your details I can get in contact with your MW's and let them know how you are feeling. I am sure they can provide you with the support you need. Do you have an appointment for your anomaly scan yet?
If there are any pregnancy problems I'm am happy for you to come and see me in clinic.
Best wishes

SympatheticConsultant Sat 11-Feb-12 01:03:54

Hi Seynubi,
I would advise you to go and visit 2 or 3 neighbouring units and get a feel for each. I don't think you should be booking at a unit too far from home in case of another preterm labour it would be safer to get to a nearby unit in such an eventuality. As you will find through word of mouth and forums/chat rooms every single maternity unit in the UK will have its nightmare stories and good stories. In SE Guy's/ St. Thomas' (if you fall in their catchment area), QUeen Elizabeth (in Greenwich) and Lewisham are all reputable units.

bubbagump Sat 11-Feb-12 01:15:12

Mine is much older, perhaps in the bad old days, but my rf midwife was the best. My dh cuddled her after. 1999

Seynubi Sun 12-Feb-12 18:21:33

Dear SC,

Thank you for your reply and advice... Ive since cooled regarding my fear of Lewisham... youre right that there's good and bad reports of all units.. I asked my midwife and she had her children at Lewisham. So after consideration, I'm booked into Lewisham.. in part for the same reasons you suggested smile


vivaldisgloria Thu 23-Feb-12 21:33:09

Having read the many sad and difficult experiences some have had at RF I wanted to say I had most of my antenatal care at RF while expecting my twin babies (darling boys born may 2010) and overall it was of a pretty high standard, despite being a fairly complicated pregnancy. The consultant care was excellent thanks to sympathetic consultant and team, my umpteen scans were carried out punctually, efficiently and kindly, and I received a very swift response to my initial fax requesting antenatal care. Yes there were weaknesses- a rather inefficient day assessment unit, south 5 - general ambience and the quality of midwife care leaves much to be desired, and some of the health professionals taking bloods, bp etc are pretty brash which can make one feel rather terrible, making one's bp shoot up further! But where it really mattered - consultant care was outstanding and overall I am grateful to RF for the care I received.

Asia1981 Sun 22-Apr-12 15:53:03

It was very interesting for me to read this thread as I am giving birth (first child) at Royal Free in June 2012.

I have spoken to number of mums from North West London and carefully read online discussions about child birth at Royal Free and got so scarred of giving birth there that I tried to transfer myself to UCH (at around 22 weeks). Surprisingly, my request has been turned down due to large number of child births booked for June 2012. It came as a bit of shock to me as I had never heard of anyone being turned down before.

Anyway, I decided to stick with Royal Free and hope for the best. As far as the antenatal care is considered I cannot complain as all my appointments for scans took place on time. I am seeing community midwifes (always a different person) at my local GP in Hampstead and all of them where always lovely. Due to my problems with pelvis pains I was referred to physio at Royal Free which was great and also had a chance to see an Obstetrician who was very nice and gave me more than enough time to ask any questions I had.
The quality of antenatal care provided gives me some hope, however, I am aware of the very bad name Royal Free has when it comes to child birth.

I would really appreciate to hear more of recent opinions about child birth at Royal Free or hear from any other mums-to-be who are planning to give birth there in the near future.

buzymom Thu 03-May-12 09:51:13

i had my baby at the Royal Free end of November 2012. i was really nervous with the comments i had heard. one friend told me to bring with a bottle of dettol if i dont want to change hospitals. With two other kids at home i felt it was b est to be near home.
I must say that i had a fantastic expirience, from beginng to end!
i was under miss wright who told me how the hospital has changed over the past couple of years. my midwife Debbie was supportive and amazing even with a long induced labour! i have no complaints.
I know miss wright is the head of department and is on labour ward a lot. I would ssuggest if anyone has any bad exp. to ask for her, i am confident she will do her best to sort out!
I am more than happy to advise anyone of my frinds planning a birth their to feel 100% confident in the ROyal FRee!

Asia1981 Mon 07-May-12 21:33:45

Thank you ever so much for sharing your experience buzymom. It is very reassuring to hear stories like that after reading all the negative comments.

Zhenia Wed 06-Jun-12 16:38:02

Hi All

I've just had a baby at Royal Free and my experience there has been very very very positive. I can't be happier at the moment. Even though I was past my dates and didn't have any signs of labour at all I believe that the staff of the hospital did listen to me and what I really wanted and let me have the baby the way I wanted. I had a slight complication - 2 vessels cord - that's why obstetricians and I myself thought that it would be better to give birth sooner rather than later - it is just common sense. On the other hand I just couldn't bear a thought of being induced. I wished to have a water birth with my second son, the same as I had with my first, which even I thought wasn't possible if I had to be induced. Eventually I was induced - my waters were broken by a doctor and only then my contractions started. But at the same time the doctors and midwifes allowed me to have a water birth. I didn't have any synthetic hormones or anything like that. Perhaps the EDD wasn't very accurate in my second pregnancy as I don't think my boy was late. I had an amazing water birth just the way I wanted. All the staff - doctors and midwives were lovely. The all really listened to us and it is because of them I had such a good experience. Special thanks to the midwife Mona and the senior obstetrician Miss Scott who wasn't pushing for inducing me with hormones.

I feel I was given all the attention of the doctors, taking into account 2vessels cord and still was given the freedom to choose how to give birth! Big Thank You to Royal Free.

Received services at
5 Labour Ward South
Labour Ward
Birth Center
Postnatal Ward

The only thing I can think of that wasn't nice - was food. But hey - we are in recession, during the times of austerity measures and cuts everywhere. A hospital is not a restaurant. So it is not even a complaint. The coffee and tea after giving birth was amazing. It only tastes like this after you've given birth!!

Groovychik Sat 16-Jun-12 22:02:29

i have chosen then royal free as it is close to my home. so far i have been happy about my experience in RF, except with the scan unit and reception. my midwife is very professional and helpful, she explains all in professional manner, which is important considering the fact it is my first pregnancy (ms Wilkins). she shows high integrity.
but i found the reception staff on ground floor to be unprofessional rude, and the staff on first scan unit. i am pleased to know the feedback have improved in RF since previous times, but overall it makes not good feeling to receive cold services each time after visiting the hospital, hope it really improves, just deciding to share feelings

SympatheticConsultant Tue 26-Jun-12 22:24:40

Dear Zhenia,
Congratulations on the birth of your son!
Thank you and all the other recent posters for taking the time and trouble to post your experiences of our maternity services at the Royal Free. It is really encouraging to know that our mums are getting the care and the types of birthing experiences they plan for. I accept the comments about the food and will take it back, our patient and staff canteen is actually pretty good in comparison!
It is also good to see that mums are increasingly sharing their positive recent experiences at the RF esp. when much of the repeated negative experiences posted relates to a birth many years ago when our whole management team and ethos was very different !
Best wishes
Consultant Obstetric Lead at the Royal Free

SympatheticConsultant Tue 26-Jun-12 22:32:22

Hi Groovychick,
Sorry you've not had quite the right experience you should have done with all of your care with us.
There is a very big trust-wide initiative (its called World-Class care you may see posters around the hospital) at the RF just now, exactly to address this kind of patient experience which we are keen to eliminate. Please do feel free to share any details further with me (sajjad.ali@nhs.net) so I can address this with the staff members directly involved.

NewmumHA8 Thu 12-Jul-12 17:14:30

Having read this feed throughout my pregnancy I felt I had to contribute having had my baby at the Royal Free Hospital in April 2012.

The birth experience was AMAZING. I cannot praise the staff enough for the care I received. I had a high-risk delivery (induction with large baby following my waters breaking but no sign of natural labour). The midwives and doctors tried their very best to give me the birth experience I wanted at the same time as ensuring I had a safe and healthy delivery.

Despite having a complicated delivery it was the most wonderful experience thanks to the staff at the RFH.

With regard to the antenatal care, again I cannot fault the level of care and attention I received. The only issue that could be worked on is waiting times within a specific clinic I needed to attend.

nw6mumtobe Sat 21-Jul-12 12:23:30

Hi, newbie to mumsnet here. My boyfriend and I have just found out we're expecting and are looking into where to have our baby.

RF sees like the best choice in terms of distance from our flat and ease of getting there for check ups, but I can't help but be put off by lots of negative reviews. On reading comments from a member of RF staff above though I feel more reassured that things have changed recently so I'm a bit confused.

After seeing a consultant from the royal free (above), offer a couple of mums to be the chance for her to be their named consultant (sajjad.ali@royalfree.nhs.uk), I emailed her but the email has bounced back with an error. I was wondering if sajjad could get in touch with me and also if any further new mums have reviews to help me and my boyfriend make a choice.


Asia1981 Thu 16-Aug-12 21:52:45

I can now share my experience at Royal Free, after delivering my baby there in July 2012.
As for the prenatal care, i thought it was very good. I have met the most amazing consultant, Mr. Jaja, who is truly devoted to his profession and such a wonderful person. His professionalism as well as the care and reassurance he offered me throughout my pregnancy was outstanding. He truly loves his work and it shines through his attitude towards patients.

As far as my labour was considered, I had to wait for epidural for several hours and despite our repeated requests (although a first timer, my dilation was progressing very quickly, we arrived to the hospital at 11.30am and my son was born at 3.50pm) it was only administered just over an hour before the arrival of my baby. I was told that the anaesthetist was busy assisting another patient....

Despite the above i have to say that the midwives whom I met at RF were very good and provided us with great care. In particular one Iraqi lady, whose name I have unfortunately forgotten. She was absolutely lovely towards us and gave a lot of attention to our little one.

The postnatal ward was a disaster ( I was there from 11pm until 8.30 am the next day- I discharged myself as soon as it was possible), I struggled with breastfeeding and every time I called for help I was presented with a stinky attitude which made me feel like a nuisance. The nurses gave me very brief instructions and by the time I wanted to ask a question they would already have gone. As my baby was crying almost all the time I had to hold him all night long and didn't have 5 mins sleep after such an intense labour. Whenever I asked for help ( I was petrified that if I keep holding him in my arms in bed I may drop him on the floor if I fall asleep myself) i was told to feed him, again and again. As a result I spent all night awake, holding him in my arms. Despite having episiotomy I was given no painkillers and only later found out that they should have been offered to me and also given to me to take home...

Despite the issues with epidural and very poor quality of care at the postnatal ward, i am very grateful to a great care offered by Mr. Jaja and wonderful midwives at the Labour Ward.

rbennett1 Tue 16-Oct-12 23:11:50

sympathetic consultant-you mentioned awhile back in this thread a service for mums to rehash the birth with a midwife and go through the notes. how can i take advantage of this service? i had a planned hb and had to transfer by ambulance and 6 months later am still traumatized! please let me know if this is possible. i had wonderful, wondeful community midwives throughout my labor who were so caring and sweet but the waiting time for consultant and ultrasound appts was awful. please be in touch, thanks

SympatheticConsultant Mon 05-Nov-12 19:57:00

Dear rbennett1,
Sorry I have been away from the forums over half term. I have just PM'd you.
Best wishes

DyeInTheEar Thu 15-Nov-12 22:33:09

any other RF experiences? I'm thinking of self referral to RF. Thank you!

Elenagt86 Sun 18-Nov-12 22:33:19

Hi Sympathetic Consultant,

I am so glad to hear that mums are generally having a better experience than they were a few years ago. It's really reassuring to know that there are people like you that really do care about the care that we receive.

I need some advice. RF has been recommended to me by a few people recently, as the care that i have been receiving at North Middlesex Hospital has been awful. I am 32 weeks pregnant with my second daughter, and have not had a straightforward pregnancy at all. I have had breathing problems from the beginning (which i experienced slightly toward the end of my first pregnancy) and was told by my community midwife that i needed to get it seen to at the day unit; which i did. An abnormality was found in the tracing of my heart and i was kept in for 24hr ECG. I was in for four days. I was told that unless something really scary was found on the ECG, that they wouldn't do anything else while i am pregnant.

Problem is, i was waiting a whole day and a half in hospital for the results, and when i asked the nurse to call the doctors to find out why nobody had come to see me, she was horrified to learn that neither the cardiologist or the obstetrician had any intention of coming to see me. It turned out that each thought that the other was looking after me!

The nurse called the registrar said it was OK to go home. By this time i was so fed up and keen to get back to my 14 month old daughter that i just left. I have no idea what the results of my ECG were, and there is nothing in my maternity notes that reflects them either.

I decided to book myself in to see a consultant obstetrician as i was so concerned about this. I waited 1.5 hours to see him and explained the above. I told him that i was worried that there was no record of my heart problems in my maternity notes and the MWs would not be aware of my history when delivering me. He said that he couldn't read an ECG and neither could the MWs as it was very specialist, which i completely understand, but he went on to say that if the cardiologist let me go home then it was probably OK. I tried to stress that i didn't think my results had been seen or analysed by anybody but he just wasn't listening! The only thing he suggested was early epidural so that i don't have to deal with the stress of the pain, on top of everything else. So i am still in the same situation, and still having symptoms of breathlessness and faintness. Nobody has been in touch with me and this was around 6 weeks ago now. It's as if i was never there.

My question to you is; is it possible to transfer, at this late stage in pregnancy, to RF? I live in Wood Green so it is a bit of a journey to get there, but i am willing to travel if it means i will be looked after. TBH i am terrified about this labour. My first wasn't straightforward by any stretch of the imagination, and this one has the added complications. I am worried that my heart wont cope with the stress or the pushing, and nobody is listening to me. To be frank i am worried i might not make it through. To make matters worse, this baby was presenting breech at 30 weeks, and i know she may still turn, but the stress of all of this is just getting on top of me.

I have been psyching myself up to go back there and try again to get some actual results and advice, but am considering just changing hospitals instead as i don't think i can face going back there again, waiting ALL day and then being fobbed off. Sorry this post is so long but i don't know what else to do. Please offer me some advice, if you can.


Wheredidmyyouthgo Mon 19-Nov-12 00:05:13

Hi there,

I gave birth to DD by ELCS at the Royal Free in Dec 09. I am hoping for a second baby, and would be very keen for a second ELCS. What is the RF's attitude to this?

The ELCS was I believe marked on my notes as 'maternal choice'. The real story is that I am 4'10", was very overdue with no signs of labour or even BH contractions and, as the consultant put it, there were two risks: cord prolapse and shoulder dystocia. She therefore said that I could go home overnight to fetch my bag for the ELCS, and that if I were to go into labour overnight I was not to labour at home, but to come in and they'd do the CS as an emergency. So the phrase 'maternal choice' doesn't convey the full story.

My question is, will I have the choice to opt for an ELCS again. I am very keen for an ELCS for various reasons. Thank you!

SympatheticConsultant Tue 27-Nov-12 14:21:22

Hi Elenagt86,
sorry to hear of the difficulties you are having. We would normally arrange for you to see our specialist cardiologist who reviews are pregnant expectant mothers who have co-existing cardiac problems. Typically these appt's take a few wks to get in view of the waiting times but in extremis we can try and push them through quicker. Breathlessness in pregnancy can be caused by different conditions, cardiac conditions being a possibility. To exclude an underlying cardiac condition an ECG, 24hr tape and an echo (ultrasound scan of your heart) would normally be considered / undertaken.

We do have women deliver with us from Wood Green and Bounds Green areas. In view of your gestation however this should be done asap especially if we need a cardiology opinion. Your GP can refer you or you can self-refer via the downloadable referral form from the RFH maternity website.


Monsie Wed 10-Jul-13 14:25:16

I have had the most horrible experience at the Royal Free in the last couple of days after about 3 years of dealing with their incompetence off and on. My own falult I guess for staying there but once you get treated at one hospital it becomes very difficult to change and my GP has not been very helpful either.

I am 25 weeks pregnant with my first child after 3 miscarriages and bilateral ovarian cystectomy at RF. In the past, they have failed to follow up on scans showing cysts that needed intervention, lost records within departments and been generally shoddy when it comes to administration. However, I felt that once I was in the care of the professionals they were decent but I have been terribly let down this time. I went in on Monday afternoon due to vomitting and severe left abdominal pain and was told I was to be admitted and needed a scan which would be later on Monday or early next morning. They failed to set up a scan until the next afternoon but what was much worse is that they told me to be nil by mouth from Midnight on Monday and did not find time to give me any IV fluids until 11.30 next morning by which time I had been without any food or water or iv fluids for about 13 hrs and decided to discharge myself. The doctors who saw me and my plan stated that I needed to be given iv fluids but the midwifes on the ward were either too overoworked or could nto be bothered to give me fluids even through I repeatedly told them in the morning that I was feeling dizzy and dehydrated and needed something.

eventually, I was so angry and fed up i felt I had no option but to discharge myself and get some food and water. At which point they all sprung into action but too late.

I am so troubled by what happended that I never want to go back to the Royal Free again. I am regsitered to deliver there and am thinking about changing now.

SympatheticConsultant Tue 06-Aug-13 22:46:05

Dear Monsie,
I have just seen your thread, I'm sorry to hear your recent experience on the unit was not a positive one. I do hope you are feeling better now. Have you had follow-up arranged with your Consultant. If not or if you are unhappy with your ongoing care and would like to consider switching Obstetric teams then do PM me and I will do my best to ensure we smooth the way as much as possible for the remainder of your pregnancy.

TinyTear Thu 26-Sep-13 10:44:50

Just found this thread (and no zombie warning so shall go for it) to say I had my daughter at the RF in Jan 12 and had no issues in the time I was there (other than with one midwife) and I was there from Monday to Friday because of Induction that took a while...

Midwives, consultants and everyone was friendly, professional and I got my epidural as soon as i asked for it.

I will go there again for subsequent pregnancies...

Noideaatall Tue 03-Dec-13 12:04:24

In a word - no.
I've just found this too. I finally made a complaint this year about the RF maternity services. There is in fact a long list of complaints I could write about them from four experiences of their 'care' over a spread of 13 years. Not one has been good.
Although they seem to be trying at least now - after my complaint they did come & speak to me about it.
Some people there are fantastic but it's down to luck if you get one of them. There was no reason other than midwife-arsiness for my bad experience this year. (Midwife refused to answer the call button after an early disagreement with my partner about VE )
Midwives seem to have no common sense and are quick to take offence or mock. This year I witnessed a midwife in the DAU belittling a woman who'd been sent there from the antenatal clinic but didn't know why. The woman didn't speak much English. This midwife turned to me & tried to bring me into laughing at this woman. Bear in mind she'd been sent there most likely because there was some concern about her pregnancy. I didn't know how to react as I knew I'd be seeing this midwife every day for the next weeks. It was incredibly awkward.
In addition midwives don't seem to realise how their behaviour affects future outcomes such as PND. It can affect a family forever if a birth goes badly.
It's not hard to get right - just a basic issue of treating people as you'd wish to be treated yourself.

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