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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Whipping boy

So, yesterday - out of the blue - I was contacted by an ITV researcher who had read my Plog, and was looking to interview someone about their negative experience of maternity services at Whipps Cross hospital.

See, there is a report out today that is the equivalent of a "could do better" from the headteacher.

The researcher who approached me was very polite - but a) I did not want to be on TV b) I'm not available today anyway and c) news items are generally edited down to a soundbite or two, and I categorically did not want my 15 minutes of fame to be the sentence, "Yes, I shat myself.  Twice."  I already had visions of it going viral.

Besides which, it's a complex issue, and everyone has a different experience.  Even within my small NCT group of 6 or so who delivered at Whipps Cross over the course of about a month, there is a vastly different experience - from those who said that staff could not have been more lovely, to the person (me) who was told 12 hours after a C-section, when I still had no feeling in my legs, "You need to get out of bed and stop being lazy.", to the person that would not hesitate to describe them all as a massive bunch of cunts.

I am glad the NHS is there.  If I had unlimited resources, yes, I would probably go private, but giving birth privately costs around £20,000, so it's not like saying, "Oh, maybe we'll just not go out for a meal this month."  £20,000 is unaffordable for the vast, vast majority, and (unlike in the USA) I haven't yet seen a private medical insurance policy that covers childbirth.

Yes, my experience of Whipps Cross was also "could do better" (though the birth itself - horrific as it was, was nowhere near as badly managed as when I got labyrinthitis and ended up lying on the corridor floor of Whipps Cross hospital maternity unit, throwing up into a bucket, because they said they had no beds.  Two midwives stepped over me and a third told me to get up because the floor was dirty.).

But "could do better" is surely an improvement on no service at all.  Already one local maternity hospital to us has closed.

The biggest problems I saw were understaffing, poor processes, yes, a lack of compassion from some of the midwives - and the fact that the "free food for patients" fruit, tea and biscuit stand just contained one lonely digestive.  I would have taken a picture but I was in too much pain.

Oh, that and the shower floor was covered in blood.  But that was partly my fault.  Have you ever tried to take your pants off without bending in half or lifting your legs?  Have a go.  Go on.  Right now.  Now imagine you're bleeding copiously from your foof.  If you're a bloke, substitute "todger" for "foof".

Look - you've made a mess!  Clean it up.  Oh, you can't.  Because you can't bend over.

The above two paragraphs are why I didn't think I'd make good TV viewing.  I can't be trusted not to say "foof" on national television.

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