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?

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

Thanks

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
SC
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.
BW
SC

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.

Thanks

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
SC

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.

Elena

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.

Regards
SC

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.
BW
SC

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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