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Help me write a letter of complaint after told not to BF in doctors surgery

(45 Posts)
boobymummy Tue 11-Aug-09 21:14:39

I'm not normally the type to complain about things but today I was in a situation where I ought to have complained and didn't. Its played on my mind and I now think I ought to complain so think I should send a letter.

I was taking my 5.5month DD to see (very lovely) doctor. When I got there, DD needed feeding, as I was talking to the receptionist anyway,I made a throw-away comment about needing to feed DD in the waiting room. She replied that it wasn't an appropriate place to feed because 'men don't like it'.

I was a bit stunned and asked if there was somewhere else I could feed DD. She said there was a treatment room not being used, I said fine and she showed me through to a disabled toilet with a gurney trolley bed in there. Still stunned I said nothing and because DD was unwell and needed feeding, I fed her.

Only having spoken to my friend (Hi CB if you're reading this!!) and my DH have I realised I ought to complain.

The thing is that I don't want to be that 'arsey' woman who complained IYSWIM, so how could I phrase a letter to get my point across without being on my high horse??

Any suggestions gratefully received Xx

PerArduaAdNauseum Tue 11-Aug-09 21:17:28

Blimey! Yes you have to complain... But I'd take the tack of suggesting to the Practice Manager that this member of staff is clearly not up on current guidelines, and if you'd been younger/less confident you can imagine this comment damaging your confidence to BF in public?

WorzselMummage Tue 11-Aug-09 21:18:04


you definatly should complain !

Our Drs has signs everywhere saying 'breastfeeding is welcome here'

I should imagie the drs at your surgery would be horrified.

boobymummy Tue 11-Aug-09 21:20:00

I should add that there is a poster in the waiting room with a teenage mum saying breast feeding her baby was the best decision she made. Wish I'd had the guts to complain there and then, was just too shocked really.

tiktok Tue 11-Aug-09 21:21:03

So you had to feed your baby in a toilet in case 'men' didn't like you feeding your baby in the waiting room.

If there was anyone who didn't like it, they could have been shown to the toilet themselves, could they not, and sat there while they awaited their appointment?

Disgraceful and deffo worth a letter. Explain how you were upset and taken aback, and did not feel brave enough to complain at the time...and how undermined you felt.

Sidge Tue 11-Aug-09 21:22:46

I would phrase a letter to the Practice Manager more in the way of "you probably aren't aware of this and I'm sure you wouldn't condone it if you knew but one of your receptionists said etc etc. As I'm sure you'll agree this isn't appropriate for breastfeeding mothers and I think your staff would benefit from some group training as to how to promote breastfeeding in your practice".

I used to work as a practice nurse and would offer mums a side room to feed in, not because they needed hiding away from disapproving men but so they could have some privacy if they wanted it, as well as a cup of tea and a couch with a changing mat etc.

Bakersman Tue 11-Aug-09 21:23:06

I'm outraged for you!!!
You MUST complain

HoppityBunny Tue 11-Aug-09 21:25:19

You got to be joking! Didn't want you to BF at your doctor surgery!!? That ridiculous! I BF all my babies (got 3) at my doctors surgery every single time I go there! And, especially after their jabs when I had to wait 10 mins in the waiting room for any after effects.

I wonder what would your doctor and other docs there think of this? I bet it's solely down to the receptionist's narrow minded opinion.

You can always ring your local paper up and get them to publish your story. You have every right. That be nice as well as a letter.

bratley Tue 11-Aug-09 21:25:21

I agree with PerArduaAdNauseum, word it along the lines of staff being aware policies on breastfeeding, and knocking new mums confidence.
I have a friend who was belittled in public for breastfeeding her 2month old son and her (already low) confidence was knocked so much she would only feed her son at home.
If we were out she'd constantly be watching the clock so she could get home in time, she was miserable after a few weeks and started formula feeding sad

LittleMissBliss Tue 11-Aug-09 21:25:45

That is awful our dr's surgery also has breastfeeding welcome posters.

I would def complain. Not great at wording letters so will leave that up to otherssmile!

boobymummy Tue 11-Aug-09 21:26:40

Thanks all, I'm going to draft a letter tonight.

Sidge I think that a really good qway to phrase it, it assumes that the docs will see it my way and so isn't confrontational or difficult. More a case of making them aware rather than complaining as such.

Leeka Tue 11-Aug-09 21:27:46

What Sidge said - good letter, not offensive but gets point across.

It's so not on to ask someone to bf in a toilet anywhere, but even less so in a surgery.

CyradisTheSeer Tue 11-Aug-09 21:30:48

Message withdrawn

drosophila Tue 11-Aug-09 21:34:17

I think her problem is she thinks men like it too much. I am fecked off with boobs only seen as sexual things.

boobymummy Tue 11-Aug-09 21:35:03

Righto - have got as far as 'Dear Mr XXX' and don't know how to start it...

Will come back with a draft shortly

boobymummy Tue 11-Aug-09 21:59:55

What do you think?? Strong enough without being arsey?? I need to still go to this surgery without it being to difficult with the receptionist.

Dear Mr XXX,

I came into the xxxxxx surgery today to take my 5 month old daughter to see Dr xxxxx. When I arrived I needed to speak to the receptionist as I’d been asked to come in but had no appointment time. At the end of my conversation I mentioned that I needed to breastfeed my baby in the waiting room, the receptionist replied that it wasn’t really appropriate as it is ‘in public and young men don’t like it’. Instead she suggested that I use a vacant treatment room. I often discreetly breastfeed whilst out and about and so was quite surprised by her response.

When I was shown into the treatment room, I realised that it was in fact a toilet. However, I felt embarrassed and awkward and didn’t want to be difficult so I didn’t say that a toilet wasn’t an acceptable place to feed my daughter. A chair was provided so I used that and fed my daughter.

Later on in the day I reflected on how my experience conflicted with the promotion of breastfeeding by the NHS and felt that you ought to be aware of the situation. Had I been a younger/less confident new mother this comment may have had a damaging effect on my confidence to breastfeed in public.

I just wanted to make you aware of the incident as I'm sure you'll agree a toilet isn’t an appropriate place for breastfeeding mothers and hope that you will offer training to your staff so they also understand.

Yours sincerely

PerArduaAdNauseum Tue 11-Aug-09 22:07:54

Sounds good to me. Maybe add something about the feelings of young men being a little less important than infant nutrition? But that might just be me being arsey wink

Sidge Tue 11-Aug-09 22:14:29

Sounds fine. I would also put something in along the lines of "thank you for your attention and I look forward to your reply", indicating that you would appreciate an acknowledgement of your letter.

pinkteddy Tue 11-Aug-09 22:18:13

You could add something like 'what practices/procedures will you put in place to ensure this doesn't happen again?' That way they have to respond to you, at the moment there is nothing that indicates you want a response? Apart from that I think its a good letter.

boobymummy Tue 11-Aug-09 22:18:28

Sidge Good idea, I want a response really to make sure that my message was understood.

Hate the thought that the receptionist is going to get in trouble, I will be so embarrassed next time I go in.

pinkteddy Tue 11-Aug-09 22:20:40

They see so many patients I doubt she would put you together with the letter. If the practice is any good, they will investigate your complaint without getting someone in trouble. Please don't worry about that.

boobymummy Tue 11-Aug-09 22:38:25

Letter written - will post it tomorrow. Will let you know if I get a response. Thanks for all the help.

Tommy Tue 11-Aug-09 22:46:09

I am shock and angry for you - good letter - I hope you get an appropriate response.

However I would suggest that, in future, don't bother asking if you can breastfeed - just get on with it and smile nicely at anyone who looks smile

boobymummy Tue 11-Aug-09 22:53:34

Tommy Yes I wonder if I've never had a problem before because I've maybe never phrased something in a way that made someone think they had the option to say 'no, you can't BF here' IYSWIM.

Won't be giving anyone the option in the future thats for sure!

Tommy Tue 11-Aug-09 22:55:18

good smile wink

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