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St Thomas's, Queen Elizabeth, Lewisham Hospital and Queen Mary

(69 Posts)
ST82 Mon 20-Feb-12 09:59:03

Hi mums smile

I am 8 weeks pregnant and a first time mum. I need to make a decision on which hospital i am going to for the childbirth, so far St Thomas's hospital is the one that stands out to me as one of the best in London. I live in South East London (Blackheath) and my other options include Queen Elizabeth, Lewisham Hospital and Queen Mary.

I would be grateful if anyone can tell me a bit about the care, the labour rooms, cleanliness and other aspects of any of these hospitals, particularly St Thomas's. I have looked at the Health Commission survey but would love to speak with someone who has actually given birth there just for a few tips!

Thank you so much,

Southwest Mon 20-Feb-12 10:16:59


I only have experience of 2 of those, personally I wouldn't do St Thomas' from Blackheath it's quite a way to travel I'm trying to see how you'd get there...... Is it one you are offered locally? do local midwives work there?
When I had my child there I had a pretty average to horrendous experience TBH (the birth and midwife delivering my child were fine but they were part of the community team from my area) I was shoved from pillar to post, left for 24 hours with no food or water, they then tried to refuse to discharge me, kept me waiting until nearly midnight, there were only agency staff on the postnatal ward at night none of them knew where the drugs were (or for that matter could use half the equipment) none of them had access to anything they needed, they failed to give me any discharge documentation.
There is more.......

I have a couple of friends who gave birth in Lewisham, one had a fine time for her first went back for her second and they nearly lost her and the baby, the docs apparently appeared so incompetent the anaesthetist was laughing at them until her husband told her to STFU and pointed out that the oxygen wasn't connected or at least the story goes something like that.

I don't know enough about your other two choices sorry we are hardly spoilt for choice. I have heard some good things about Kings recently how close is that to you?

ST82 Mon 20-Feb-12 10:28:46

Hi, thank you for your reply...

St Thomas is what i have elected as my preferred choice and i am still waiting for my GP to confirm whether they will accept me or not...? As a first time mum, I suppose my childbirth will not happen within an hour or even two, hence allowing me enough time to get to St Thomas...

I have read some really awful stories involving Lewisham and Queen Elizabeth, which have completely scared me, however most of the feedback online is also quite dated so i am hoping to find something more up to date and relevant...

King's is relatively close to me and probably slightly closer than St Thomas....

Southwest Mon 20-Feb-12 10:59:07

My friends second is about 9 months old so fairly recent
Where is Queen Mary hospital?
I'm finding all these Queens so confusing.........!

Loads of people will be along to talk about Tommies later I'm sure

ST82 Mon 20-Feb-12 11:20:29

here are my options and the distances from my address:

1. Lewisham Hospital - 4.4 miles
2. Queen Mary Hospital Sidcup - 5.6 miles
3. Kings College Hospital Denmark Hill - 7.1 miles
4. St Thomas Hospital Westminster - 8.6 miles

Thank you. I am looking forward to reading more of people's past experiences and hopefully be able to make a decision. Right now i feel very confused...

KittieCat Mon 20-Feb-12 11:48:03

Hello ST82,

I've heard good things about Kings recently, but I live in SE3, too and gave birth at St. Thomas'. I posted lots of info at the thread below and though you might be interested.

Happy to help with any questions.

Good luck with your decision making.

KittieCat Mon 20-Feb-12 11:49:25

thought you might be interested.

ST82 Mon 20-Feb-12 11:51:25

Thank you KittieCat. Did you have any issues being accepted by St Thomas? I am waiting for my GP to confirm be able to confirm this by end of the week....

KittieCat Mon 20-Feb-12 12:12:54

Initially my GP didn't want to refer me, I was also told I might not be accepted, depending on their local intake. Which docs are you with? To be honest it might have been easier for consistent midwife care had I used a local hospital, as there was no continuity once I had DS as my care reverted to local midwives/ HVs when I left hospital.

One thing I realised though, is it is all swings and roundabouts and whatever decision you make will be right for you. I agonised for ages about where to go and got upset when I thought I might not be able to go to St. T's. I've heard good and bad things about many hospitals and really think it depends SO much on the midwives and how busy they are. If it helps a friend gave birth at Lewisham's new unit and it was a very positive experience for her:

So please don't worry if you can't go to St. T's as there are positives about being closer to home.

SLHTNHS Mon 20-Feb-12 12:19:35

Just to let you know, the maternity department is now closed at Queen Mary's Sidcup, you can go there for ante-natal appts but not give birth there.
The Trust (South London Healthcare NHS Trust) will offer you either Queen Elizabeth Woolwich or the Princess Royal University Hospital (PRU). I work here and would be happy to sort out a visit for you at either site - pm me. PRU has the Oasis midwifery birthing unit which is a home from home environment next to the regular labour ward. QE is about to set one up which should be ready for you when you deliver. Both units are good, both improved mortality rates and improved midwifery to patient ratios.
Let me know if I can sort out a visit and good luck with your pregnancy.

eurochick Mon 20-Feb-12 12:23:33

I'm watching with interest. I am ttc and live close to Blackheath. I'm surprised King's isn't on your list. A local friend ave birth there twice and I have been referred there for fertility stuff. I have my eye on the mw-led unit at Lewisham if we ever get a BFP! I didn't know there was also one at the Princess Royal.

lucidlady Mon 20-Feb-12 12:28:26

Im from Blackheath too and I had DD in October at lewisham. I cannot praise the care I had highly enough. I was booked into the birth centre but ended up having to go to the labour ward as I needed monitoring. The midwives and doctors were excellent and kept me and DH very calm. We had to stay in for DD to be observed and the aftercare was great too.

Whatever you decide good luck!

weasle Mon 20-Feb-12 12:38:30

I had 2 dc at QEH and the last at home. I know lots and lots of local mums who have had babies in all those places and more.

QEH was good. Post natal care everywhere seems to be a bit crap. So the secret I think is to do everything possible to have as normal delivery as possible and go home ASAP.

With this in mind, if I had my choice again I'd consider home birth first time or a midwife lead unit. Have heard good things about Lewisham's unit. Is QM sidcup still open?

Go and look at your nearest 2 and go from there.

sleepingbunny Mon 20-Feb-12 12:38:52

I had DD2 under the care of the Lewisham midwives at home (and DD1 at King's so i do have some comparison). Certainly cannot fault the care I received at Lewisham antenatally (and I had some complications that meant I had to see several consultants as well as some excellent midwives). The midwives who delivered my daughter were also fantastic (and one was from Lewisham hospital rather than a community midwife, though of course a homebirth is different).
Friends had their children at the birthing centre at Lewisham and absolutely rave about it.
My experience at King's, incidentally, didn't make me feel that I wanted to have my second daughter there - they were just massively oversubscribed and understaffed at the time, although I know some fantastic midwives who work out of King's too.

ST82 Mon 20-Feb-12 13:38:58

thank you all for sharing your opinions and experiences! i am grateful and i hope this will be useful to a few more new mums to be in my area.

Does anyone have any experiences with Princess Royal in Orpington? I think that would also be one of my choices...

So far, i think i am contemplating on the following as my final options, in no particular order:

1. Lewisham Hospital
2. King’s College Hospital Denmark Hill
3. St Thomas Hospital Westminster
4. Princess Royal University Hospital Orpington

thanks a million!

SecondTimeLucky Mon 20-Feb-12 13:52:56

Do bear in mind that if you go to St Thomas' (or indeed any other hospital outside your normal area) you will need to check where you can receive ante natal care. It may mean trekking to clings at that hospital for antenatal appointments, as opposed to most being at your GP surgery.

I would go for the Lewisham MLU if you are low risk - or homebirth if that interests you. I've heard great things.

The anecdotes amongst my friends recently (and I fully admit that this is not scientific!) have been good for Lewisham and appalling for QEH. At QEH one woman I know was told she could only use the birth pool if she got to 5cm before another woman who also wanted to use it - despite the fact that there are inflatable pools so both should have had the option of water. Another was stalled and stalled until she was told it was too late. I have heard good things about QEH if you are higher risk, but not for a 'normal' labour.

My own experience of QEH three years ago left me swearing never to set foot in the place again unless my baby's life was at risk (thankfully I had a fantastic homebirth with no. 2). It was mostly due to a horrid, horrid locum midwife, which I recognise was bad luck of the draw, but nevertheless...

Personally I would be very wary of a trip to Westminster. Do you have a car? How would you feel if your DH was driving you through a morning rush hour to get there? How easy would it be to come home if you went in too early, or for your DH to pop home to collect things if you had forgotten something you wanted afterwards? Would you feel you needed to set off earlier for the hospital earlier because of the journey (which tends to be a bad thing for interventions, or indeed in case you get sent home again). Orpington I guess has similar issues, but at least isn't central London.

Roxy33 Mon 20-Feb-12 13:57:38

I'm from Blackheath as well and had my first at St Thomas's. We got Blackheath cars to take us at about 6am in the morning and it took no more than 20 minutes....may take a bit longer if it's morning peak hour! I would rate St Thomas's medical birthing side and we even had a little bit of a panic at one point and very quickly had 3 doctors in the room and they got the baby out in a couple of minutes (ventouse - ouch). The only thing i would say is that they are super busy - i had to wait 1.5 hours before i got a room even though my waters broke and i was being sick in the waiting room, it was apparently just bad timing as there were no clean rooms. I think i would still go back to St Thomas's just because i want to be assured of a high standard of medical care if anything goes wrong. I'm not so sure about Lewisham, it has a great natural birthing room but if you need anything else i would be concerned about the standard of care.

Good luck and I hope all goes well. PS. Ignore the procedure of ringing before you go, i did that and it didn't make a single difference.

SecondTimeLucky Mon 20-Feb-12 14:00:26

Roxy- I guess it depends a bit where in Blackheath you are too re travel time. We're the other side in Greenwich, which could add on masses in rush hour so I see it from that perspective.

Why would you worry about the standard of care at Lewisham? Anything in particular? I know a couple of high risk people who've had great care there recently.

SecondTimeLucky Mon 20-Feb-12 14:01:25

ps. Don't fail to ring before you go! That's standard for all labour units. Worst case scenario is the unit is so busy it has closed, or can't take you. You want to know that before you go there. It's not just to do with them being ready for you as such.

maydaychild Mon 20-Feb-12 14:04:35

Pru Orpington is fine, but it seems if you have any issues which lead to a required ELCS (placenta previa for example) then they WON'T LET you go to Pru (happening to a friend of mine right now).

The healthcare around here is a shambles for maternity since they closed Queen Mary Sidcup.
Therefore, whichever hospital you choose is going to be rammed !
I had DC1 at QM Sidcup. I had DC2 at Darenth in Dartford. Both were great.
Now though, if I go for DC3, I am not allowed to cross border to Darenth (probably because they closed Maidstone so Darenth is even busier as well)

I honestly believe that not one of them is better than another. It is totally pot luck on how many babies decide to come the same time as yours and how busy that particular hospital is on any one day. I think all Midwives are good, but there just simply aren't enough of them.

I would advise looking into your life and patterns - where can you get to for ante natal appointments? Is there parking? (not at Kings particularly!!)
If by train, what is access like? (Kings station is a nightmare right now and more steps than a pregnant woman should face)

Does a midwife visit your GP surgery? Can you see one there and still be booked into Kings?

Personally, I wouldn't go to Kings for the parking alone! You could spend £200 just giving birth. If a section, then probably more! That's if OH can find a space grin

Also, if you went into labour at 9am, getting from SE3 to Kings whilst having contractions would not be fun! I have to say, travelling from SE3 to Pru Orpington is similar. There is a rail bridge closed at mo for a year. Traffic is horrendous even outside peak times.

In your shoes, I would choose between the two closest.
QE or Lewisham.
I think I would choose Lewisham
a) closer
b) have heard less 'it was crap' stories there than QE.

On a plus for QE, most of Sidcup lovely staff got transferred there....

You know, you could have all your ante natal at Sidcup including scans and all midwife appointments. Just not the giving birth bit (f'ing shambles)

sorry so long!

SecondTimeLucky Mon 20-Feb-12 14:06:12

Oh yes, I have heard lots of lovely Sidcup staff are now at QE...

GlassOfPort Mon 20-Feb-12 14:42:45

I had my DS at King's and they were absolutely perfect. I had to go to Lewisham for the post-natal care and wasn't at all impressed (some members of staff could barely speak English confused...).

I hope this isn't adding to your confusion

ST82 Mon 20-Feb-12 14:55:23

So far, i have a very normal pregnancy and i do not have any medical history of illness/issues that i think will be likely to affect my pregnancy (fingers X!!!) What has put me off Lewisham Hospital and Queen Elizabeth is the negative feedback and experiences of people in the past; the main purpose of my thread was to try to get more up to date information as changes seem to have taken place throughout most of these hospitals.

The one thing i have learned so far is that it is very much a hit and miss type of scenario; you might be very lucky and everything goes well and smooth or vice versa. Whilst i am not too scared of giving birth, hopefully naturally, i think the one thought that sends horrible feelings in my head is not knowing that the right people with the right frame of mind will be on site to help pro-actively. I appreciate that hardly any labour is easy/walk in the park, however i believe that knowing you can rely on people doing their jobs and doing them well, is an extremely reassuring factor under the circumstances.

Looking forward to any more thoughts, suggestions, tips etc..

lucidlady Mon 20-Feb-12 15:02:06

I think the only way you'll be able to make a decision is to visit the hospitals and do a labour ward tour. That way you can find out which hospital you feel most comfortable in.

EmmaCate Mon 20-Feb-12 15:14:21

I gave birth in QEH and had a good experience. Every hospital website I went on had someone posting with a bad experience - they can freak you out a bit. My midwife was lovely; my early labour midwife was matter-of-fact but cool. Of midwife relations generally; they are there to help you and sometimes they need to be bossy with you for the sake of your baby, so don't take it personally if this happens.

An NCT mate went for St Thomas' with twins and liked it as far as I know. Many of the Mums in our group (we were Blackheath) went to Lewisham and most had an OK experience I think (except they don't do pillows or something?).

I heard a few stories on the grapevine in the last year or two about infection at QEH, but frankly I think if they really did have had an issue you are probably best going there now as they will be focussed on cleanliness.

Lewisham now have have the midwife-led birthing unit BTW, which is supposedly lovely (low-risk though and no epidurals).

Visit all of them if you haven't already. You will get vibes.

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