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Please help with choosing a hospital, private or Queen Charlottes

(64 Posts)
Londonmummy05 Sun 08-Aug-04 17:41:49

Hello all,
I'm 10 weeks pregnant and I'm driving myself crazy trying to decide on a hospital! I initially went to look at the 3 main private hospitals. I wasn't too keen on the Portland, i liked the Lindo wing at St Marys but would prefer a mid wife led birth (they only have consultant led) I loved St john and St elizabeth and was planning on going there but my Dh's bestfriend has worked in Obstetrics for the past year and thinks I should definetely go somewhere that has NHS facilities but still has a private ward- like Queen Charlottes. She said that even though only a small percentage of births go wrong if you need to be moved it can take up to 24hours to find a bed for you! John and lizzies doesn't have a special care unit so I am now considering QC. Has anyone used their private ward? What's it like? Please help need to decide soon Thanks alice

aloha Sun 08-Aug-04 17:55:22

I could have had any private care I wanted with ds as I had a condition covered by my medical insurance, but went with Kings, which is very NHS indeed, but I felt safe there. I didn't think the Portland was safe enough. I had a private room afterwards but it wasn't exactly five star luxury.
Friends have had excellent experiences in NHS birth centres, and if all goes well you might be able to leave the same or next day anyway. I'd save the money for your maternity leave, personally. Have you looked at local birth centres within NHS hospitals?

MummyToSteven Sun 08-Aug-04 18:05:40

i'ld save the money for a doula and/or a maternity nurse. As aloha says, you may only be in hospital a day or so if you have a very good birth.

Londonmummy05 Sun 08-Aug-04 18:08:41

Thanks for your swift reply aloha. i've only been looking at American sites up till now which isn't very helpful for Uk hospitals! I've only looked at the lindo wing in paddington so far but I guess that's really a private hospital. i'm going to try and book a tour of Queen Charlottes but I want to make sure that I have the one on one attention that I'd get at a private hospital. i know I'm being paranoid but it's my first and i've read that it's really important to get the birth you want as this reduces the chances of post partum depression ( i read too many books!) i might get an independent midwife but do you think I need one? Are the scans any different on the NHS? and what part of it could be private? I'm just worried about being forced into something I don't want(like and episiotimy) just because i've got a pushy midwife, I know if I'm paying for the pleasure I'll be more likely to tell them exactly what I want and don't want Obviously these aren't my only reasons for wanting a private birth but it's all I've looked into up till now and feel I need to gather as much info as poss. Does my GP gave to refer me to a certain hospital or can I go anywhere i like? Thanks and sorry for the lengthy messages!

MummyToSteven Sun 08-Aug-04 18:40:27

LM05 - on the NHS it is usual to get a booking-in scan - say between 11 and 15 weeks, and a more detailed anomaly scan, beteen 20-23 weeks. If you have bleeding/pain/question as to baby's growth/other problems in pg you may end up having more scans. In my experience if you are pg and have problems you should be referred for scans pretty quickly. You may want to ask whether the hospitals you are looking at do a nuchal fold scan on the NHS -this is the only "extra" scan I would consider necessary - though some people like to have an extra private scan for bonding purposes - e.g a 3 or 4 d one, or one that can be videod. I believe that the Fetal Medicine Centre in London has a good reputation for private scans. I would not say that you need a private midwife - but that research shows that having a woman with you does help in labour. Not even necessarily a woman who has any medical/nursing experience, but someone who has experience of labour! There are no easy answers - noone can guarantee that you will get a talented, sympathetic understanding midwife - but I was certainly very impressed by the treatment I received from the midwifery and medical staff whilst I was in labour.

In terms of reducing intervention - sometimes due to positioning/distress to the baby intervention, is, unfortunately inevitable. However to avoid intervention it is best to remain as active in possible while in labour (i.e. up and about and squatting) rather than bed bound, and it is probably best to avoid diamorphine/pethidine or epidural if you find that is possible for you. However until labour happens you just don't know how it happens how bearable labour pains will be, and how long it will be. For example, DS was "back to back" with his head pressing on my cervix, which meant for an intense, exhausting early labour, so I couldn't manage just on gas and air and had diamorphine. As regards episiotomy - ask for NHS hospital's rates of episiotomy - hospitals are far less episiotomy happy than they were say, 20 years ago. I believe the episiotomy rate at my local hospital is about 15%.

In terms of reducing PPD - having a difficult/distressing birth is a risk factor for PPD - but don't get too hung up on "the perfect birth"- you are no less good a mother for having c/s, pain relief, instrumental assisted delivery etc. Most pg books emphasise that you are having a birth, rather than having a baby.

best of luck

Londonmummy05 Sun 08-Aug-04 18:49:10

Thanks mummytosteven I totally agree that it;s wrong to look for the perfest birth and as long as mother and baby are fine that's the most important thing

motherinferior Sun 08-Aug-04 18:56:19

LM05, I think if something went wrong you'd be treated under the NHS anyway. If you are determined to go au naturel (personally I was an epidural-with-everything girl the first time round) independent midwives might be worth the money - but first of all, find out what's available to you! Does your local GP surgery have a community midwife team? What's the midwife there, or other midwives in the team, like? Are you near a birth centre, like the Edgeware one?

It's nice to get the 'birth you want' - depending on what you want, of course. But you can't count on it, especially with a first birth. Seriously.

MummyToSteven Sun 08-Aug-04 18:58:46

motherinferior - you managed to say in 3 lines what I was trying to say in about 103

edam Sun 08-Aug-04 19:18:09

Londonmummy, are you near St Thomas's hospital? They have a home from home birth unit which may be what you want (although staff ratios were really bad when I was in there). There's also a midwife-led unit at St George's, I think.
Private hospitals don't have ITU or special care baby units. Portland has had a number of cases where women have died due to poor midwifery/anaesthetics. If you do want to go private, I'd go for the private wing of an NHS hospital so all the facilities are there if you need them (St Thomas's has a private wing).

motherinferior Sun 08-Aug-04 19:20:24

At its best, the NHS can deliver an amazing birth. For free.

MummyToSteven Sun 08-Aug-04 19:23:42

fully agree with motherinferior. Whilst ds' birth was far from the ideal - distressed baby, cord round neck, ventouse and episiotomy, I felt that the midwifery staff and medical staff treated me with great respect, and explained things properly to me, and I certainly don't feel I would have done any better by going private. You would be amazed the number of obstetricians/paeds that can be rustled up when necessary for the birth!

motherinferior Sun 08-Aug-04 19:35:32

Just looked up QC on MN, and lots of people speak very well of it.

SueW Sun 08-Aug-04 22:58:03

Get an independent midwife.

ChicPea Sun 08-Aug-04 23:24:48

Congratulations LondonMummy. I had both babies at the Lindo Wing with Mr Teoh who was fantastic. The midwives are all NHS but the Lindo Wing and consultant are private. Mr T's fee were about £3,500-ish from start to finish and this was appts every 4 weeks, every 2wks and then every week.
Also, St Marys have up-to-date equipment should mother and baby need special/intensive care.
I was very well looked after. I stayed in for 4 nights as had C Section as first baby breech. The first night is about £600 and then each night after is about £500 I think. DH would not even discuss me going to the Portland due to the recent deaths there. Also, they employ alot of agency staff.
I have heard very good things about St Jhn and Elizabeth but I don't know if they have the emergency facilities. I suspect they transfer patients to St Marys.
Hope that helps.

CountessDracula Sun 08-Aug-04 23:44:45

My dh is a medical negligence lawyer and has always maintained that all private hospitals are inadequately staffed and have no facilities in the case of an emergency - he has seen many cases of incompetance and blunders in his time from these places and has been involved in a couple of the Portland cases for eg.

I would definitely recommend going NHS, private wing if you must but all you get is better facilities, and tbh when I was considering transfering there in the C&W after having dd, the Prof advised against it as he said you get rather ignored as you aren't in the main section of the hospital.


CountessDracula Sun 08-Aug-04 23:45:30

ps my godson's mother went private and her dh had to CLEAN THE ROOM before he would allow her in there as it was so filthy, I don't think it's any guarantee!

Londonmummy05 Mon 09-Aug-04 00:30:49

Thanks for all your help ladies,I don't have a problem with having an epidural, I'm going to try first and see how much pain I can take i'm sure I'll yell out for drugs at some point!
You have all made really valid points, I've heard all the pros and cons between private and NHS and i'm not doubting that the NHS is better than most private hospitals for births as it can afford more up-to-date equipment should something go wrong and the staff are very experienced, i suppose I'm just trying to get reassurance before i make my decision my Dh is away this week so I want to try and decide before he gets back.

Chickpea did Dr Teohs fees include all the scans and blood tests or were they extra? I really did like the Lindo wing and they seemed to be really on the ball when i went for the tour, but I calculated the costs alogether and it would be around 7,000. I can justify this and would be happy to pay if it's any better or safer but I think Queen Charlottes is around half that and still has a private ward. I live in West London so the Edgware and St Thomas' might be a bit too far.
Thanks again everybody I think I definetely have a lot of trust in the NHS regardeless of all the horror stories ( I was born in one!) It's just a question of knowing you've gone for the best option which I'm sure every mother wants, I think just have too much time on my hands

Earlybird Mon 09-Aug-04 07:30:03

Londonmummy - if you are interested in the Lindo Wing, I would strongly advise getting your name on the list as soon as possible. I toured the facility when I was 8 weeks pregnant with dd, and registered a few days later. I was told that I got the last place available for our projected due date. As you saw, the facility is quite small - I think I recall that they are "full" when they reach 12 people. You can always give up your place should you decide to give birth elsewhere.

Londonmummy05 Mon 09-Aug-04 10:33:08

THanks Earlybird you're absolutely right, there were so many women n the tour with me Ican imagine it gets packes,I don't think i have to pay the deposit until four months before my due date, it;s just a question of speaking to the consultants. I may call a few today and check out prices and stuff, I've heard Dr John Smith is good and chickpea has used Dr Teoh can you recommend anyone else>

aloha Mon 09-Aug-04 10:42:11

I do think it's a tremendous waste of money - sorry. Also how do you define the 'best' birth? it varies so much from woman to woman. Unless you want an elective section, which can be tricky to obtain on the NHS for a first birth, I think getting an independent midwife or doula might be a better option. I don't believe private care is better, personally. The best private consultants do NHS work anyway. But of course, that is just my opinion, and it's your call, but I'd be interested in what you think will be better about going private. After all, to me, if your birth is easy and straightforward, you don't need a consultant and a long stay, and if it doesn't, then you will need a good NHS hospital. Yes, wards can be cruddy and vile and not all midwives are superkind, but I'm sure that (ezp the latter point) also applies to private hospitals. Would also second what CD said about getting a bit ignored in a private wing. The only REAL plus side of private care to me, was unlimited visiting. My baby was nocturnal so really, really needed my husband and my mum to come during the day to take my baby away so I could grab a few moments of sleep.

hercules Mon 09-Aug-04 10:49:07

Seems a hell of a lot of money to pay for very little. Personally I'd feel much safer on the NHS and surely that's what counts rather then how nice your room is.
Both my births were nhs with good staff who stayed throughout. I have no idea how you could top the safety aspect although the comfort after the birth could have been better. You're only there for such a short time though anyway.

Earlybird Mon 09-Aug-04 10:54:51

Londonmummy - I didn't give birth there in the end, as I decided to give birth in America. So, I was one of the ones who reserved at the Lindo, and then cancelled. I was referred to a doctor whom I would have been quite happy to use had I stayed in England for the birth. His name is Dr. Guy Thorpe-Beeston, and I liked him alot. His office is located on Harley Street. I mentioned his name to the ladies at the Lindo, and they responded positively. But, that was 4 years ago, so don't know if he still practices at the Lindo.

hoxtonchick Mon 09-Aug-04 10:55:58

I totally agree with aloha. I think that NHS maternity care is some of the best in the world. I had ds at St Marys & had fantastic care (from Mr Teoh too, Chicpea, isn't he lovely). I saw the same doctors every month the whole way through, had countless scans, brilliant midwive care throughout my labour & it was all on the NHS.

jane313 Mon 09-Aug-04 11:08:38

at queen charlottes the visiting is unlimited (till about 10.30pm) in the NHS wards. They aslo let fathers stay overnight in the Birth Centre I think (thats the natural birth area) And they also do private rooms within the NHS. The NHS wards are only 4 to room.

sleeplessmum2be Mon 09-Aug-04 11:25:29

Hi Lm05 have just read your thread and felt that i had to give you my opinion and a recount of my experience(S) at st john and lizzies. Here goes.

Both my mum and my best friend suffered really severe post natal depression and i was very fearful of suffering the same. I fell pregnant in 1999 for 1st time and toured the local hospitals, barnet and edgware. Edgware is a small unit and only takes low risk and hardly ever first time mums. I started at Barnet and call me a princess but i wanted more specialised and personal care than was provided in by NHS I was and still am a busy working mum and cannot deal with hours waiting to be seen etc. at about 8-10 weeks my dp and i did the tours of the Lindo, Portland and St John and Lizzies. My personal opinion was Portland- too formal and posh and not encouraging of natural childbirth. Lindo again i felt quite good but for me it was further away and they only had 2 birthing pools but it was still on my short list. Then we went to St John and Lizzies, (i must add that by this time i was quite anxious as had some family problems going on!) Met with the head of the birth unit at the time who was a wonderful lady called Anita (who has just taken a 7 month sabatical) and had a tour and a long chat with her about the entire ethos of St John and Lizzies. Now i could begin to sound like a journalist writing a peace of praise for the place so i will just try to short circuit it.
For my first ds i was under Dr Donald Gibb who i was advised had been head of obstetrics at kings/queens? and could pull huge strings if necessary.
10 things that are fantastic about St John and Lizzies
1) Everyone and i mean everyone there treats you like you are family/friend, special and really cared for.
2)Its like having 10 mummies to look after you EVERY time you visit.
2) The midwives are available to chat to 24/7
3) Included is all soughts of extra therapies, form reflexology, yoga, birthing classes, homeopathic support, nutritional support, first aid for babies etc etc.
4) The ethos is about positive natural birthing BUT intervention (if needed or requested) is given
5) Whole family encouraged to be involved
6) Partner stays in Hospital with you in a double bed
7) Comfortable surroundings
8) Highly trained midwives, I am sure they also assess your personality and give you the right one for you. ie. my midwives at birth changed at 2nd stage and it was perfect for me the first was wonderful and soothing and encouraging in a really gentle way and the second bullied me (nicely) into keeping on going when i had had enough she found the buttons to push me on !!!! Good old Paula
9) Free counselling throughout the pregnancy and for 3 months after for both you and your dp.
10) Just a fantastic place!!!!!

Anyway trying to keep this brief - haha !!! Things got a little rough for me with and inordinate amount of family issues culminating in my fathers becoming terminally ill when i was 7 months pregnant, the support that the staff (ALL) gave me was incredible. My waters broke 3 weeks early and i had daily scans for 5 days to check on baby and amnio fluid. (in NHS they would have c-sectioned me after 24hours) I then had meconium and i still remember walking into the birthing room anxious and upset that my dream water birth (and my fixation for being at John and Lizzies ) had gone out the window, i pointed at the pool and said 'youre not gonna let me in there are you?' and the mid wife warmly and gently said, ' we promised that as soon as baby is on dry land you'll be in there together' and then she proceeded to light candles, put on aromathapy burners and soft music'. To some and maybe you too, this may sound really airy fairy but for my it took the whole clinical out of control fear away for me!!! I wont tell you the rest of the story cos its not necessary but suffice to say that eventually, by torch light with obstetrician and midwife and my partner holding and encouraging me i had my amazing little boy naturally. I was prepped 3 times for a c-section, neonatal specialist was gowned up and waiting outside the door and in the end about 15/20 minutes after my delivery i was in that pool holding my little darling. and tears of joy remembering it now!

This may sound like i am mad, but i am hugely hormonal and due to go back to John and Lizzies any day now as baby 2 is due in 5 days time. I personally cannot imagine anywhere else that could be more wonderful, warm and safe for me to have my babies in. Go and have a tour yourself!!!
Nothing panned out the way it should of but all in all it was the most amazing experience. My father died 3 weeks after my son was born and the consideration and care was ongoing for months.

I wish you the most wonderful experience where ever you choose to go!!!!!! and hope this helps you just a little!

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