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has anyone had recent experience of the royal free at hampstead?

(44 Posts)
JoTo Sat 27-Mar-10 12:26:41

many of the threads on the royal free seem quite old..i am just wondering if things have improved at the hospital. The stories on the post-natal treatment do not seem great

MumNWLondon Sat 27-Mar-10 21:42:28

My recent experiences were of the ante-natal care .... I got so fed up that I changed hospital at 34 weeks.

Nothing really terrible, just everything running superlate (like appointments both in hospital and with community miwdifes consistently over an hour late) and then not communicating blood test results to me and the community midwifes being impossible to get hold of.

ReneRusso Sun 28-Mar-10 15:32:07

I am having my baby at the Royal Free. The ante-natal care has been ok(ish). I have seen dozens of different doctors and mid-wives, not much continuity, that would be my main complaint. As for post-natal, well I hope to be able to update you in a week or two when I have my baby. Last time around I would have to say it was all right, but that was a long time ago.

schroedingersdodo Mon 29-Mar-10 11:19:39

Just like ReneRusso, I'll have something to tell in a couple of weeks (in my case, about 5 weeks). The antenatal care is ok, not fantastic (basically, I keep chasing people and results up and down and if I do that,
things go well). I liked the antenatal classes, the waterbirth workshop and so on, so I'm optimistic.

I've read/heard good and bad stories about the RF, and decided that it will happen with any hospital. I'm already used to the RF and it's less than 1 mile from my house, so I think it's the best option.

(but anyway, would love to hear from people who gave birth there recently - specially in the birth centre!)

slhilly Mon 29-Mar-10 16:56:53

Not sure if this is recent enough for you, but our first child was born in the birth centre in 2007. We had a great experience there -- a couple of calm midwives, attentive intelligent care, a quiet room in which we both could stay along with the baby overnight etc. The only downside was that it took quite a few hours from when we were ready to go in the morning to when the doctor saw us to discharge us. I'd always heard not very nice things about the labour ward, though.

neshi Wed 31-Mar-10 12:15:53


I'm now 25 weeks and chose the Royal Free just because is a 5 min walk from home
So far, I've only been there for the scans and blood tests as well as for the maternity ward tour.
I can say I'm quite happy with everything and did not have any problem so far. I always get the letters regarding my appointments far in advance, never had to chase anyone for test results and have been very well taken care when doing the scans!
So far so good...
I've read a lot of mums complaining about not getting their appointments, waiting hours to be seen...that has certainly not been the case for me!

I'm curious to hear about the feedback of the mums above soon...good luck ladies!!

JoTo Thu 01-Apr-10 11:48:11

many thanks for taking the time to reply.. our ante natal care has been pretty basic but ok. we had some antenatal classes that were held in the waiting area of the maternity section - very noisy and the class was also pretty basic.
so i am still not sure about the is very hard to tell and it can be very different from one experience to the next.
The thing that really made a difference for us was doing anteclass with Jessica James in Stoke Newington. i come from a family of teachers and recognise how good she is. it really gave us a much greater understanding of the whole process and we just feel much more prepared. i just really enjoyed the classes. if you are near stoke newington, i highly recommend them

Hi, i just left the Royal Free on monday evening after a 4 day stay having twins by c section. absolutely appalled by the attitude of most of the staff (there was the odd one who was great but for the most part, i was glad to see the back of the place).
Food is disgusting.
When i asked for help breastfeeding, i was told i should top up with formula.
I could go on....

ReneRusso Thu 08-Apr-10 22:27:41

NKffffffffee0f8010X114082 - sorry you had such a bad experience.

I found it adequate, rather than appalling. In summary, it's a very big, very busy maternity ward and everything is fairly hectic with no time for any good personal rapport with any of the midwives or other HCPs. But, my basic needs were met and I found it fairly efficient, clean and comfortable. I had a csection and stayed in 3 nights.

On the positive side
- When I was recovering and immobile in the first 24 hours after the cs, I was well looked after, and someone always came straight away to help me when I pushed the button.
- I felt very much that my concerns pre-op and during the actual op were listened to.
- My baby was well cared for on delivery, paediatrician came immediately when bleeped
- I thought the food on the ward was quite good.
- The discharge was fairly smooth and I got away a bit quicker than expected.

On the negative side

- A few of the HCPs and other staff were not what you would call friendly (although mostly they were ok)
- The breast feeding counsellor who was doing the rounds on the ward went out of her way to make me feel inadequate, saying "of course those of you that had caesareans will have missed out on that skin to skin contact straight after delivery which is so essential"
- One of the ladies on my section was given formula to top up with when she had sore nipples, I thought she could have been helped in other ways. The midwife said "Hmm, yes well it's very difficult when you are not producing enough". Bullshit I think, the baby just liked sucking for several hours.
- I went for a walk to try and calm my screaming baby at about 3 in the morning and was chased back to bed by a very grumpy midwife who said the noise was echoing around the ward. Possibly true, but not very supportive.

So some good, some bad, I'm sure there are nicer places to give birth, but I couldn't go to a lovely birth centre with bouncy balls and scented candles due to various risk factors, so if you need a big hospital with all the possible medical interventions on site, then I suppose it's ok. Happy to be out safe and sound with my gorgeous baby smile

Good luck to everyone else with your choices.

Rene - i'm glad you were looked after for first 24 hours after c section, i was looked after for first 10 hours then after that i was told i should start doing things for myself despite still vomiting and being unable to move. When i pressed my call button because one of my babies was eing sick on his back which scared me and i couldn't pick him up, i was told to wait my turn so i just had to drag him onto his side by his blanket and hope he'd be ok. when they did come they were cross with me and said they had 31 other women to look after.
Very few of the midwives were prepared to help at all with feeding, i was offered formula 8 times in 3 days by several different members of staff instead of help with latching on. Some even said i wasn't producing enough milk and that i needed to top up. Well my babies are healthy at home with plenty of wet and dirty nappies now and i'm glad i managed to resist the formula despite being absolutely zombified by lack of sleep. i came close to giving in.
As for a quick checkout - again, it was quite the opposite for me. babies were cleared to go on the sunday, first thing monday i told the midwives i wanted to go and was cleared by the doc at 2pm monday. i promised my 3yo i'd be back for his bed time but the midwife still hadn't done my paperwork by 7pm so i just had to walk out which made her cross with me.

nwthree Wed 14-Apr-10 07:30:11

Hi there
I don't know whether you've seen this thread but it includes some recent experience of the RF: tead-improved

Sorry, I don't know how to insert a thread properly!

I had my baby there in December at the Birth Centre. In summary the birth itself was great (except for a nightmare in triage) but post-natal was fairly appalling. Would head to UCH next time to be honest.

Hope this helps.

mrscardoso Tue 20-Apr-10 11:28:18

I just had an awful experience at the Royal Free and my advise is: avoid like the plague!

My planned homebirth ended as a forceps delivery after the midwife in one of the examinations to check my dilation (was 7cm already) made me bleed. After agreeing to get into an ambulance, I was begging for an epidural. They said they were going to get me. What a joke. After a few minutes, I felt the urge to push. I was told no to. Of course you don't have any control over contractions. A few seconds later, they said they were going to break my waters. I said no. They laid me on my back, pulled my legs up, I tried to put my legs back down, they hold me, and broke my waters against my will. After that, the urge to push and pain were extremely intense. I was told to push. Again, I don't think you can control your body in this situation. I asked to change my position, laying on my side. They refused, holding me on my back with my legs up. It was the most humiliating moment of my entire life. They got the instruments, I begged NO! I was completely ignored. They started to cut me. I said no. They got the ventouse, I said no. They tried to use the ventouse twice, I was in absolute panic. They got the forceps, I said no, and they took my baby and my birth from me.

I will never forgive them, I was naive enough to believe they would need my authorization to execute any medical intervention on me. Baby's heartbeat was fine, I wasn't dying or anything... It's just unbelievable I ended up all stitched...

I would like to be enjoying this moment, but how can I?

mrscardoso Tue 20-Apr-10 11:34:44

Just another few points:

- The loo in the delivery room toilet was clogged! Shit everywhere! Urgh! The shower was disgusting. I always thought of hospitals being clean and disinfected places.

- They started to stitch me without local anesthesia. I started to scream and they treated me like I was a spoiled child!

- Post natal care? Actually it was the "best" part of the entire "Royal Free Experience". Food was awful, nobody have helped me, checked me, checked my baby. Even all stitched I had to do everything myself (which was nice, as I didn't want any of them to touch me or my baby).

MumNWLondon Tue 20-Apr-10 11:51:04

mrscardoso - so sorry to hear about your dreadful experience. Sounds totally awful, I hope you have complained already - also you should send an email explaining what happened to - (consultant obstetrician there - he posts on mumsnet under name "sympathetic consultant")

I emailed him when I was so annoyed with the crap ante-natal care offered by the RF community midwifes and because of a comment on this thread about not being access the MLU there without a VE in triage on arrival (which i didn't want)- (I decided to have my baby at the whittington instead - baby was born at the MLU there on saturday) and he sent me a comprehensive response.

umf Tue 20-Apr-10 13:27:16

mrscardoso that's awful! I had my son at RF in 2006 and it was dreadful, but not in that league. I still feel furious about it sometimes, but promise that all the joys (and anxieties) of motherhood will be yours despite the shocking way you were treated.

Talk (asap?) to the Birth Trauma Association? Putting in a formal complaint is difficult straight after a birth (you're traumatized, you have baby...), which I think is a big reason why so many hospitals get away with it. But if you possibly can, it might help to complain? But heck, if all you want to do is settle down to recovering at home, then all the best for the first weeks with your baby.

MumNWLondon Tue 20-Apr-10 15:37:55

My DS1 was born at the RF also (MLU) - but my experience was so fantastic that I booked in again... only to change my mind late on in this recent pregnancy...

dinkystinky Tue 20-Apr-10 15:48:29

Had a similarly horrible experience to MrsCardoso when DS1 was born in 2006 (antenatal care with CMWs was great if late running as rule, midwife in labour ward was terrible, post natal care nonexistent apart from 2 very dedicated MWs who saved my sanity) - I complained (to everyone including the Chief Exec), had a birth review meeting and an apology with the midwife in question being sent for retraining. MrsCardoso - if you feel up to it, please do complain. It is simply unacceptable that you had such an awful experience. Name and shame the midwives who "cared" for you in your complaint.

Had DS2 at St Marys last year - antenatal care patchy and late running, but fab birth experience in the birth centre and great care by the midwives.

neshi Wed 21-Apr-10 10:08:33 I'm really scared!!!

I'm 27 weeks and so far only good experience at the RF...been there yesterday because could not feel the baby all day long and they were patient and caring...
But the more I read the worst the stories get!!

Mrscardoso, so sorry for you awful experience
I'm shocked it can be so bad!
Would definitely make a formal complain and email the contact mumNWlondon gave you!!!

dinkystinky Wed 21-Apr-10 10:37:10

Neshi - for what its worth, I wish I'd heard some of the bad stories before I had DS1 as I would have known to be on guard and v assertive about what I would and would not put up with. All hospitals have people who have good and bad birth experiences there -not just the Royal Free. As it was I'd just had brilliant care from my community midwives and so wasnt prepared for the experience I had in the hospital. However you're going in with eyes wide open so you should hopefully be fine - if you dont get one with your midwife in labour, complain and ask for a different one (so wish I'd done that) - make your views and desires very clear from the start and stand by them in the birth (and make sure your birth partner is doing the same) and you'll be absolutely fine.

neshi Wed 21-Apr-10 11:10:23

Dinkystinky - thanks for the support, but guess I panicked a bit after mrscardoso story.

I'm really happy with my community midwife as well as with the GP support, so really would not like to change that...
Good to know you can ask to change midwife in labour...I'll keep that in mind!
Just generally disappointed/scared with all the crap I read about RF, although as I said, with me they've been so far so good!

dinkystinky Wed 21-Apr-10 11:14:10

Neshi - FWIW out of my NCT class 5 of us gave birth at the Royal Free in 2006. I had a horrible time, two had perfectly fine births, two had a mixed time. Its just the way the system works. I've since had friends who have given birth at the Royal Free and had perfectly fine births. I am sure you'll be fine - particularly as you're going in with your eyes open.

MumNWLondon Wed 21-Apr-10 11:45:32

Neshi - I had a fantastic experience at the RF there in May 2006 when DS1 was born... Also had a great experience there in October 2003 when DD was born. I think there will be bad stories everywhere, just important that your birth partner can stand up for you if things not going according to plan.

I think that its just important that your expectations are managed - eg the other story was so bad as the poster had hoped for a home birth and it went wrong... And yes important that your birth partner can be firm if things start to deviate from what you want.

I changed my mind (about the RF) this time at around 32 weeks as I decided I didn't want to go via a triage system to the birth centre and because I wanted a water birth and there is only one pool at the RF. In the end I didn't get my waterbirth (at the whittington) my labour progressed too quickly to fill it!

the whittington are notorious for leaving it too late to fill the birthing pool. I had ds there in 2006 - spent hours trying to get them to turn the taps on, nearly went over and did it myself. I was v persistant and getting quite cross about it so they did it in the end but by then i was ready to push. I've since heard loads of people had same experience there.

MumNWLondon Wed 21-Apr-10 13:55:06

Interesting about the pool - although in my case I think the midwife was astounded how quickly it went as I was totally calm and contractions never formed regular pattern.

I don't really mind, have recovered really well and no stitches or bruising despite not being in the pool, and he came out so fast completely tangled in his cord (round neck and legs) probably was better they were right there to catch him.

neshi Wed 21-Apr-10 17:28:48

Thanks ladies, guess I'll have to make sure my husband is up and skilled for the task!! Poor guy, he will be, I'm sure!
Good to know there are also good experiences, because you feel like you only hear about the bad ones...and guess those are the ones hard to forget!

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