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UCLH vs Chelsea & Westminster(14 Posts)
I would be interested to know your opinions about giving birth in UCLH and Chelsea & Westminster hospitals.
I am due to give birth at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital (UCLH) in November but so far have not been impressed with their antenatal care.
I am moving to another area shortly and have the option of changing to Chelsea & Westminster or remaining with UCLH.
Which would you recommend?
UCLH has the best neonatal department in the land. If your baby was to come early or have complications you could not be in better hands.
However, for a normal birth I am not sure about UCLH's reputation. I have heard very mixed feedback about C&W. Their postnatal is very poor (but that is true for most NHS hospitals). Their intervention rates are also quite high.
friend gave birth @ UCLH last Oct (planned c/s)and had nothing but praise for it. they also have a birthing centre, don't they? don't think C&W has that (nor the reputation of UCH tbh)
I'm with chelsea and westminster, i find them amazing, quick and caring.
I live pretty much next to C&W but didn't have my twins there (on the advice of my GP who sent me to Queen Charlotte's). However, all my girlfriends have had their babies there. They were unanimous in saying that the midwife care during birth was excellent and the ante natal care was very good (no long waiting times for scans, etc.) but that the post-natal care was very hit and miss. They are understaffed and the wards are quite crowded.
However, most NHS hospitals have similar issues with staffing and if you go there expecting to have a push for help post-natally then you'll probably be okay. It can be a bit of a fight though so it's worth going in with that mentality. Not being afraid to use your buzzer when you need it and nag for breastfeeding support/advice, etc.
I gave birth at the Chelsea & Westminster. The midwives do seem very professional but I think the labour ward can be very pressured. They closed it whilst I was in labour (i.e. no room at the inn for newcomers.) Fortunately I was safely in a labour room already! I did end up with a sudden, unexplained ventouse delivery though and my husband told me afterwards that someone had come into the room saying they needed a bed quickly! Makes me wonder whether their high intervention levels are influenced by the need to speed up the deliveries and free up the beds! Aftercare in the postnatal ward wasn't great but I was prepared for that. They were so busy if you buzzed them because you needed something (and couldn't get up) they would appear and then say they would be 'back in a minute'. Several hours later they still wouldn't have returned. I think if you had a c-section and were in there for days unable to move then this would really bother you but it could be just the same in the other hospitals. I was quite impressed with their food menu though!
i gave birth at UCL summer 06.
the antenatal care was not great, presumably, to total oversubscription. simple midwife checkups took half a day because of all the waiting. i never saw the same mw twice, etc...tbh this didn't really bother me much bc i figured if there were any problems i'd have been dealt with.
ultrasound peeps were very good and considerably less waiting time
labour/birth - mixed view on this. i was unable to get an epidural b/c the anathesitist [sp!] was busy. i also made the stupid mistake of going into labour during a shift change [8pm] which was a real nightmare. i also had a pretty crap mw, but after dh complained we got a new one who was good and helped me move swiftly along.
post natal care - bad. due to a pethidine injection i was given late in labour my ds couldn't nurse properly although he did appear to latch on. we went home for 3 days, were inspected by 2 mw and 2 doctors who missed this rather huge issue. having then realised the total cock-up after we brought ds into hosptial they readmitted us both with the heaviest hand possible and forced me into a 'breastfeed at all costs bootcamp' and my poor son into neonatal ward, when i now know he just needed a few good feeds. worst week of my life.
having said all of that i am still not sure UCL is any different from any other hospital. after hearing varied responses from many friends, i think nhs maternity care is unpredictable. i think you just need to have a very clued up birthing partner who will advocate on your behalf and reasonable expectations for the birth itself. the nhs does know how to deliver babies, it's just they seems to make a bit of a mess of all the parts surrounding that event.
sorry this is a bit rambling...
also, for a more objective view look here: http://www.birthchoiceuk.com/
i gave birth at the C&W last year and it was appalling. the antenatal care was very good but the care during labour was absolutely woeful. it would take too long to list all the things that happened - suffice to say i'm not having my next baby there! if we hadn't had a doula i have no idea how we would have got through it.
I used to live in Fulham and most of us were clamoring to get into QC in order to avoid C&W about which I have heard some real horror stories.
One thing that does seem good at C&W though is the ante natal waiting times. I went for a scan and a booking appointment which took no time at all (vs QC where I had to take a whole morning for any appointments).
My friend had midwife-led care at UCLH and it sounded like an utter dream - they even assigned her a student midwife who looked after her throughout her pregnancy so she had great continuity of care.
I now live in N London and will be given the choice of Whittington or UCLH if I have another and choose to go NHS, in which case I will be picking UCLH. Yes, I am sure that it is busy and that standards are not consistant, but I have heard a number of good stories about the midwife-led care at UCLH.
I had my DD in C&W last summer and they were fab. She was 4 weeks early and we were in for 6 nights. Ante natal care was great as was the labour. Post natal was fine as well- may have been lucky as it wasn't too busy but no complaints at all. Couple of the M/W were a bit rubbish but there were some lovely ones. Because DD had a few problems early on we met a lot of doctors and some nurses in special care (although my baby wasn't in there) and they were all great too. All my NCT group had their babies there and were generally pretty happy. Will be back there for No 2 in the new year!
I had heard awful things about it before I went there and was quite worried but talking to friends who've had babies all over London I think they've all got good and bad points.
Don't know if you're still canvassing opinions, but have had a good experience of EGA (UCLH) bar the rubbish postnatal care - the staff weren't half as good as the midwife led antenatal care, nor the very good labour staff.
Just a thought, but as far as I understand it, they are due to move to the swanky new building, in the main UCLH building along in the road, in October 08 so you might get first look at the purpose built maternity services (I understand all rooms will have en suite facilities, etc)
Look at and click on link UCLH new maternity facilities imo UCLH has amazing neonatal facilities including Level 3 NICU
Level 1 is SCBU need obs continuously monitoring, oxygen etc
Level 2 is High dependency more than level 1 care but not needing L3 care
Level 3 is NICU severe or complex needs, <29wk, or require ventilation
I had dd at UCH in Sept 05, having switched there from St Marys (had heard a lot of nightmare stories about St Marys and hadn't been impressed with antenatal care). Thought the antenatal care was fine - never saw the same mw twice, but that was what I had expected. Didn't have to wait long for appts. Due to high bp later on, spent a lot of time in the Day Assessment Unit, and they were fantastic. Care during labour was great (but at the same time, was pleased had a doula to help keep things on track) - DD inhaled meconium and ended up in SCIBU, which was also great. Post natal care was rubbish (e.g. my bp drugs were scheduled by the Dr for 10am, but that didn't coincide with the drug run, so I just didn't get them , until I chased them up), and the wards/food/bathrooms were appalling. However, I moved into the transitional care unit (because of dd being in SCIBU), and care got better, but that isn't available to everyone.
Would go back again if was still in London, as thought the care was really good (apart from post natal, but sounds like that's the same pretty much everywhere in London), and they have a topnotch neo natal unit, should you need it.
Best London birth experience I've heard of was a friend of mine who used the private unit at Queen Charlottes (covered by her health insurance) - sounded like a 5 star hotel, with midwives catering to her every need!
There's a lovely male mw at QC called Graham. On the labour ward there's a lovely pool room that seems to be under utilised. I had a tour around it. Lovely lighting, balls etc.
I think that these two hospitals are much of a muchness. That said I supported a client who was having twins at C&W and she stood her ground and had them using Gas'n'Air only. The next day I was at a birth at QC's and they said that she'd never have had that option.
UCH... I've had mixed experiences there. I went with a client to an AN session there because the first one had scared her.
Still love the Whittington (they have acupuncture etc there). Sadly there's no midwifery led unit. They also have the best (mother/baby friendly twin policy).
My fave is still the Homerton in East London.
But of course I have digressed from the OP's question.
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