I am lucky enough to have only been admitted to hospital for the births of my daughters. I have not experienced any other type of care while living in the UK. However, my eldest daughter was admitted to hospital for 5 days following an asthma attack. Combining these 3 experiences I have summarised what our care in the UK has been like.
Having good patient care is so important, whether it is through pregnancy or through any other type of experience like my daughter’s asthma attack. Being under care you are in a vulnerable position and the only thing you want is experienced people around you who know what to do. Being treated well gives you the assurance that everything is going to be okay. This is so important.
Poor care as a hospital inpatient can directly lead to medical negligence. Patient care ensures that the basic needs required for healing are met and also that patients are treated with dignity, and that their experience of the hospital does not add to the potential trauma of their illness. Medical negligence can not only lead to further physical injury but also contribute to developing things such as mental health issues such as PTSD or anxiety. Poor care can also slow the healing process; potentially resulting in a delayed return to employment and possible loss of earnings.
The NHS surveys hospital inpatients annually to determine ‘trust scores’ with their national patient survey programme. These are average scores out of 100. The scores are given across five categories: 1. Access & waiting; 2. Safe, high quality, coordinated; 3. Better information, more choice; 4. Building closer relationships; and 5. Clean, friendly, comfortable places to be. From these, ‘safe, high quality, coordinated care’ received the lowest average score (66.3) out of 100. Whilst all scores have improved consistently over the past few years, ‘safe, high quality, coordinated care’ remains the lowest average score out of all five. Each hospital has its own Trust scores and these are used as recommendations to make improvements.
Poor care, inadequate hospitals, bad attitudes from staff can all be contributing factors to incidents of medical negligence. It affects healing, experience and communication across every area of hospital care. It can have such a profound effect, that it discourages people from seeking further treatment. Your care can be something as basic as access to food and water.
This is so important and is why Your Legal Friend is working on a campaign to make awareness of this so if you are experiencing or have experienced some sort of patient care negligence, it is best to speak up and try to get this compensated. You have up to 3 years to make a claim following any incident where you felt there was patient negligence.
My Family Care Story
1. My birth stories
My birth story for each of my two daughters is completely different. Firstly, I gave birth in different hospitals but the main difference was that the birth of my eldest daughter, Bella ended with an emergency c-section whereas the birth of my youngest, Sienna was a programmed c-section.
Bella’s Birth – I must admit that my first birth experience was a little bit traumatic. This affects your postnatal care because you are so tired after the birth and the healing takes longer, therefore taking care of your newborn is not easy at all.
While I was pregnant with Bella, all my pre-natal appointments were great and I got to see the same midwife at my local GP surgery. This was nice as it made me more comfortable. It made it easier to ask questions and a relationship was established. The only downside was that my midwife wasn’t present on the day of the actual birth.
I was admitted to hospital because I had a “show”. To be honest, I still don’t know what happened. I had a BIG discharge of blood, which was enough that I thought I was losing my baby. Because of this, I was hooked up to machines and closely monitored from the moment I arrived at the hospital. This also meant I wasn’t able to walk around. Looking back I guess this was a sign that it might not be a natural birth. The staff tried everything to try to get my baby out naturally but nothing worked. They induced me, they broke my water, etc. Nothing was helping me dilate. I was stuck at 2 cms which was not enough even to get my baby’s head out! My legs and arms, especially my feet and hands were very swollen. I felt so huge. The doctors said that I almost had pre-clampsia so that was scary. I was in so much pain that I asked for an epidural which I thankfully got straight away.
To be fair, my care here was very positive. I just felt I wanted more information sometimes as I was a little bit lost with what was happening and also it was my first time birth so I was nervous and scared all the time. Because of the c-section I got to stay longer at the hospital. I wasn’t very well at the start but Bella was great and discharged before me. I think I was exhausted. They treated me well all the way through. The only thing I hated VERY much was not having Nick with me. I found the nights on my own with my first baby very lonely. I really wanted someone I trusted there with me all the time. This is something that I didn’t like.
My post natal care was good. I was seen several times. Apart from an infection I had on the scar, which was then taken care of, it was all good.
Sienna’s birth – When I gave birth for the second time I was very prepared from day one. I researched and chose a hospital that offered good care and would allow Nick to stay with me. This made a huge difference. Also, because my first birth ended in a c-section I was given the option of having a programmed c-section, which I felt made my life much easier. The birth went well and everything was straightforward.
During the pre-natal appointment for the nuchal scan, we were told that my baby had a high probability of having a genetic problem (possibly Down’s). The way we were told and how this happened was awful. This is such an important moment for any couple having a baby. It is a sensitive time and needs to be carried out properly. I really didn’t like the way the person told us this and Nick and I were terrified. It was such a shock that we were really upset because we weren’t expecting such news. Up to that point everything had been going really well so it was a real surprise.
We were offered the option of having a CVS test which we needed to make a decision about very quickly. It was hard to decide because the test can trigger a miscarriage so this made it very scary already. After thinking about it a lot we decided to proceed with the test. We just wanted to know what to expect. I did the test and was petrified the whole way through. I was praying for my baby to stay and to not experience a miscarriage. Thankfully all went well and I didn’t have a miscarriage and of course the best part was that the results were all good, showing no genetic problem. I’m not sure why we were told we had a problem in the first place. Everything was so scary. I must admit, I was very nervous and anxious for the rest of the pregnancy. I didn’t want to talk much about it because of fear that something might happen at any time or that perhaps she would be born with other issues.
We were taking care of very well following this. We had more appointments than expected and I felt that the doctors and midwives really cared about us all the time which was nice. Of course, everything went well the day of the surgery and Sienna was a beautiful and healthy baby.
2. Bella – Asthma Attack
Bella suffers from eczema and asthma. She is allergic to cats, pollen and dust in general. Sometimes this triggers her asthma, especially when she has a cold and she can have a lot of problems breathing. We have ended up at A&E a couple of times due to this but this time was the worst. She could hardly breathe at all and needed nebulisers to help her. She was that weak that she was hospitalised. My poor little girl was in such distress that she had to stay at in hospital for 5 days.
I must admit that despite being the worst experience ever, she was taken care of very well and I have no complaints at all. They were so focused and very experienced with children. She was very happy there too which I was surprised about. The hospital even had a room for children to play and read which Bella really liked. They also gave her a couple of books to take home. It was a very positive experience.
So those were our family experiences with the NHS. Despite a few incidents, overall we have had a positive experience.
How have your care experiences been? Have they been positive or negative? Have you had the need to start any negligence claim in the past? Please tell me your thoughts or experiences in the comments below.
*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post with Your Legal Friend.
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